Hmong Women and Girls: UNPO and CWHP submission to the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the Congress of World Hmong People (CWHP) have jointly submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The submission provides a comprehensive overview of the increased vulnerability faced by Hmong women and girls in Lao PDR, emphasizing the heightened risks resulting from the intersection of their ethnicity and gender.
The report, submitted in preparation for Lao PDR's Pre-Sessional Working Group meeting scheduled for October 30th to November 3rd, 2023, sheds light on persistent and egregious violations of the rights of Hmong women and girls. Despite the Lao government's legal obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since 1981, the Laotian government has consistently and gravely breached its obligations. These violations span various facets of their lives, encompassing their rights to self-determination, healthcare and planning, education, employment, marriage and family life, participation in political and public life, among others.
In addition to presenting an overview of the general situation of Hmong women and girls in Lao PDR and in certain cases the neighbouring countries to which they have been compelled to flee, this submission delves into the specific challenges faced by two distinct groups. Firstly, it examines the situation of ChaoFa Hmong women and girls who maintain traditional lifestyles in the mountainous forests of the Phou Bia region. Secondly, it explores the hardships endured by women and girls who have been either surrendered or forcibly resettled by the government into military-controlled camps or villages.
Despite severe limitations on the flow of information from the region, the UNPO and the Congress of World Hmong People have managed to establish limited communication channels. Through these channels, we have conducted a number of interviews with women and men who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, with some of these testimonies gathered included in this submission.
We urge the international community to recognize the pressing need for action to address these violations and safeguard the rights of Hmong women and girls in Laos. The UNPO and CWHP will continue to raise awareness regarding the profound rights violations experienced by the Hmong community in Laos, with a resolute call for their protection and empowerment.
Photo credit: tbradford