Demokratische Republik Laos: Layvanh Phanludeth

The role of women must be accepted in society. They should be encouraged to work for development side by side with men."

— Layvanh Phanludeth

Layvanh Phanludeth was born in 1962 in Pak-ngum, Nakhon Luang, Vientiane. After junior high school, she went into farming, got married and had four children, like other Laotian women. Layvanh has worked to improve the status of women in the community. Joining the Laos Women's Union in 1993, she got involved in social work and community development, which made her see the important roles of women in society. She organized the women in Ban Na Koong into a savings group for emergencies and income generating activities.

After Layvanh Phanludeth joined the Laos Women's Union in 1993, she became active in social issues. In 1998, she was elected chairperson of the Union in her village, after which she became village chief from 1998 to 2000. "The Women's Union works on the most immediate issues, namely, developing ourselves, our families and our society," says Layvanh of her work. In her village of Ban Na Koong, Women's Union members meet every three months to discuss issues concerning family and community development; the roles, rights and duties of women and the promotion of equal rights for women and men. Layvanh’s first project was to persuade her neighbors to set up a savings group where members could tap into a common fund during emergencies or for investing in income generating activities, without having to borrow money from loan sharks. For her commitment and devotion to the work, the members elected her chairperson of the Ban Na Koong Savings Group. Layvanh has introduced many innovations, setting an inspiring example for the community. She was the first to try integrated farming and production of bio-fertilizer for non-chemical farming. Layvanh’s inputs have been very relevant to her farming community, which must survive in an increasingly developmental system. She has helped the villagers realize the importance of self-reliance and organization. At the same time, she has helped push Lao women, who, by tradition, stick to their role as homemakers, to be more aware of the situation and to get involved in the life of the community and the country. "Though we are women, we tolerate no oppression. We want women’s rights. This is the underlying philosophy of my work. The role of women must be accepted in society. They should be encouraged to work for development side by side with men," declares Layvanh.

Laos Women's Union