Strengthening Capacity and Effectiveness of the People’s Assembly System in Laos (STEPS)
The project will strengthen the Assemblies’ and their Members’ ability to represent better their constituents, in particular women and vulnerable groups, to hold the government to account and to explore an expanded role in the budgeting and law-making. Women MPs and staff, and gender champions will be supported to mainstream gender equality and inclusion in all law-making, oversight and representation activity. These interventions will ensure better and more inclusive decision-making on policy and investment for those left behind (or at risk of being left behind) by Laos’ development journey so far.
Improved performance will allow the Assemblies to establish themselves, build strong alliances with constituents and gradually expand the scope of their work to have more influence on policy and law-making. Such successful Assemblies create popular demand for increased formal powers which are then institutionalized and translated into increased influence for the legislative branch in Laos governance system. This creative tension will improve the governance of Laos at both central and provincial levels, lead to better quality decisions and ultimately strengthen alignment of the country’s development path with the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
Lao PDR experiences widening gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural and male and female citizens. Efforts to make development more sustainable and provide services to those left behind in line with Lao PDR’s 9th NSEDP require better informed policy and investment, at national and in particular at provincial level. To encourage the system-wide accountability and participation that will produce such good policy and investment decisions, Laos has expanded the membership of the National Assembly and Provincial People’s Assemblies. These Assemblies have had limited impact on policy and investment decisions but have begun to review government performance and reach out to constituents.
As one of its very first development partners, UNDP has a well- established and privileged partnership with the National Assembly (NA) of Lao PDR. The previous joint project, “National Assembly Strategic Support Project” (NASSP) and NASSP II. Building on the achievements and lessons learnt, UNDP’s renewed support together with USAID to address challenges faced by both the NA and PPAs to perform their respective important roles, better represent citizens’ interests, and undertake policy and law- making to tackle the country’s development challenges.
- Improved and oversight accountability of government actions and service delivery, in particular at provincial levels
- Improved quality and alignment of policy, regulation and financial allocation with NSEDP/SDGs
- Stakeholder and constituents’ inputs and interests are the basis for decision-making
- Gender impact and differential impact on social group are considered in decision-making and women play more influential
GESI (Gender Equality & Social Inclusion) component
STEPS will support gender equality and inclusion in NAs and PPAs comprehensively, by (1) supporting NA and PPA to reach out to, gather information from, better understand and more effectively champion the specific interests and needs of, women and girls in their constituencies, by (2) providing women Members and senior staff with opportunities for professional development and networking within and beyond Assemblies and in leadership positions, by (3) sensitizing Members on the differentiated needs of women and young girls and the gender dimensions of planning, budgeting and policy, and by (4) supporting the actual inclusion of a gender lens and gender impact assessments into the entire work of NA and PPAs and influencing how matters are considered at committee level, including by targeting male Members and staff of the Assemblies for gender equality capacity development programmes. Similar efforts will be made to ensure greater focus is afforded by NA and PPAs on issues related to other marginalized and vulnerable groups, including in particular children, ethnic groups and persons with disabilities.
- Status: Inception
- Start Date: January 2022
- End Date: December 2026
- Project Office: Governance, UNDP Lao PDR
- Focus Area: Governance
- Collaborating Partners: National Assembly and People’s Provincial Assemblies.
- Total budget: 15,000,000 USD
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