The women living in the rural areas of Laos are often the most disadvantaged. Men are usually heads of the households, representing their families at official meetings. Many women are illiterate and do not speak the national language used for education.
Under the Constitution of Laos, Lao women are legally equal to Lao men. They have the right to vote and to inherit property. However, in practice, the roles and status of women in Lao society often depend on ethnic affiliation.
Many rural Lao women undertake a variety of semi-formal roles in their communities, including handicrafts, commerce, public health, and education, in addition to their traditional roles as homemakers and the caretakers of children. In the cities and at the government level, Lao women are still under-represented, particularly in high-level positions. In terms of wages, women typically receive lower salaries than men.
With these understanding of Laotian women, look beyond the smiles and friendly demeanor of these women. They display strength and tenacity despite the challenges they face in their society. Their appearances may be fragile and vulnerable; but their wills are strong.