Cuso International volunteer accepts award for Lao CSO at the COP23

Award recognizes work to create sustainable livelihood initiatives for women in Laos

Ottawa, November 27, 2017 – Elizabeth Thipphawong, a Cuso International volunteer with the Gender Development Association (GDA) in Lao PDR, was present at the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany to receive the Transformational Gender Just Climate Solutions Award on behalf of GDA. The award is granted annually, as part of a joint initiative from the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) and Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF).

GDA is a local grassroots partner in Laos that Cuso International supports through the efforts of skilled volunteers.

GDA received the award for its work in assessing gender roles in the northern rural uplands of Lao PDR, focusing on non-timber forest production. The project used a women’s empowerment lens to bridge traditional harvesting practices with sustainable livelihood initiatives in the target communities. One of the project goals was to offset the effects of deforestation, typically seen as a better income generator, by leveraging women’s traditional knowledge to encourage non-timber foresting. Massive deforestation, combined with climate change, has resulted in devastating landslides across the country.

Elizabeth Thipphawong receives her prize at the COP23 conference.

Women leaders in six communities participated in Train the Trainer workshops with the goal to enhance their capacity and their knowledge sharing.

“This project provides equal access to benefits for women, men and youth; it empowers local women through the use of their traditional knowledge around non-timber harvesting,” said Anne Barre, from WECF. “It is precisely the objective of the Gender Just Climate Solutions Award to showcase this kind of climate initiatives which also address gender equality and bring essential social co-benefits to communities.”

The project, which is locally led, with the support of capacity building volunteers like Thipphawong, ensures self-sufficiency and contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Lao PDR.

“To have the voices of Lao women present at the COP23, and their work recognized is an immense achievement,” said Thipphawong. “I was honoured to represent GDA in this capacity.”

Gender Development Association will use the award money to fund climate resilient initiatives in rural Laos, and further empower women as combatants of climate change.

About Women and Gender Constituency (WGC)

The Women and Gender Constituency is one of the nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Established in 2009, the WGC now consists of 27 women’s and environmental civil society organizations, who are working to ensure that women’s voices and their rights are embedded in all processes and results of the UNFCCC framework, for a sustainable and just future, so that gender equality and women’s human rights are central to the ongoing discussions.

About the Gender Development Association (GDA)

Gender Development Association is a Lao Civil Society Organization, originally founded in 1991 as a collaboration between the Lao Women’s Union, UNICEF and other INGOs working the region, with a goal of addressing gender rights at the local level in Lao PDR. The vision of GDA is for a society where women are empowered and can live without violence or discrimination. To achieve this goal, GDA works for joint action, information, knowledge and expertise on gender mainstreaming and ending gender based discrimination.

About Cuso International

Cuso International is a non-profit international development organization that works to improve the lives of people living with poverty and inequality around the globe. Each year we mobilize hundreds of volunteer professionals who work with local partners to create positive lasting change. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States.

Photo: Elizabeth Thipphawong receives her prize at the COP23 conference.
Copyright: Shubhangi Singh/VisualMedia Agency for WECF