Gender equality key to green growth in Lao PDR says new policy brief, potentially adding USD 3.7 billion to annual GDP by 2025

Vientiane, November 16 (GGGI) – Improving gender equality can have a profound effect on economic growth and is integral to maximising green growth, according to a new policy brief by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

The policy brief focuses on the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), identifying some of the barriers to inclusive green growth, gender equality and poverty reduction as the country prepares its National Green Growth Strategy (NGGS).

Through the NGGS, Lao PDR has committed to pursuing sustainable green growth development that makes the best use of its natural and human resources in line with its Vision 2030,10-year Socio-Economic Development Strategy to 2025, 8th five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Towards a gender inclusive economic growth model

“There is a tendency to focus on the green or environmental aspects of green growth, and when people do think about gender it is frequently peripheral to the central economic challenges,” said Annaka Peterson, GGGI’s Senior Officer in Lao PDR, “But we want people to see that gender equality is a core economic issue.”

According to the 2018 McKinsey Global Institute Report ‘The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Asia Pacific’, countries in the Asia Pacific region have the potential to add USD 4.5 trillion or 12% to their annual GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality in the work place and society. Annaka Peterson said, “One economic forecast estimates that Lao PDRs GDP will reach USD 31 billion in 2025. 12 % additional growth would amount to an estimated USD 3.7 billion additional GDP in 2025. That’s almost like adding another Vientiane Capital to the economy.”

Despite Lao PDR’s high and steady economic growth, averaging 7.8% GDP over the last decade, poverty and gender inequality remain persistent challenges. Significant progress has been made in reducing poverty from 33.5% to 23.2%. The gender gap in education has narrowed and Lao PDR has among the higher proportions of women legislators globally at 27.5% according to the Inter Parliamentary Union.  However,

Lao PDR ranks 106 out of 159 countries in gender equality according to the UNDP.

Tackling barriers to women’s economic engagement

“Creating opportunities for women’s engagement in green growth is a key challenge for the NGGS and the entire development agenda, but it is needed to boost the economy” said Ms. Sisavanh Didaravong, Deputy Director General of the Center for Development Policy Research of the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

According to the brief, in Lao PDR the gender gap in economic opportunities and employment is stark. 65% of unpaid family workers are women, and the time women dedicate to housework each day is four times greater than the time spent by men.

Improving women’s economic empowerment through financial inclusion and the removal of barriers to women’s equal participation in the labor market and entrepreneurship will help unlock their economic potential and contribute to green growth.  Ms. Didaravong highlighted the potential of women in Lao PDR, “women spend more time taking care of the family and kids, if we can give them an opportunity to show their strength and capabilities our society and economy will be better off.”

The brief includes several recommendations to empower women in Lao PDR’s green growth priority sectors and tackle some of the social barriers to gender parity in work to help drive additional economic growth.

Monitoring progress

Further recommendations are provided for effective gender mainstreaming in the NGGS, including developing a gender action plan and monitoring progress towards its implementation, partnerships with institutions such as the Lao Women’s Union for technical support, as well as monitoring female labour force participation in quality green jobs.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) provides support to the Government of Lao to mainstream green growth into planning and policy making and develop bankable projects to help achieve its national green growth objectives.

The Policy Brief, Gender Inclusive Green Growth in Lao PDR: Recommendations to maximize economic growth through gender equality can be downloaded at: /wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Gender-and-Green-Growth-Policy-Brief-Lao-PDR.pdf