VIENTIANE, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Lao government has continued to pursue a policy of encouraging more women to play a role in the country's leadership, and vowed to increase the number of women in leading positions in state departments, said local daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday.
Laos has set a target to increase the proportion of women holding leadership positions in central-level state organizations to 30 percent by 2020, according to statistics provided last week by the Lao Women's Union.
The figure was cited as the union is holding activities to mark the International Women's Day on the coming Thursday this year -- a time when the world reviews the status of women and their empowerment.
The Lao government will also strive to increase the proportion of women holding leadership positions in provincial and district departments to 20 percent by 2020.
In the Lao People's Revolutionary Party's 11-member Politburo -- the country's top political body -- Mrs. Pany Yathotou is the only female member. Meanwhile, the 69-member Party Central Committee has just six female members.
Among the 68 ministers and equivalent positions in Laos, only five are women, according to statistics as of June 2017 provided by the Civil Servant Management Department. In addition, there were only 24 women among the 190 deputy ministers and equivalent positions.
Observers noted that in order to successfully promote gender equality, it's essential to create equal opportunities for girls to access education as boys.
The Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mother-Child said it has made progress in increasing the number of girls enrolled in schools.
Lao school attendance by girls at the upper secondary level rose from 45 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in 2016 and to 51 percent in 2017.
School attendance by girls in lower secondary schools also increased, from 78 percent in 2015 to 82 percent in 2016 and 2017, said the report.