As part of International Women Day celebrations, Coffey’s Laos project teams hosted a lunch presentation to hear the stories of two inspiring individuals who take action for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.


Ms Viengsam Indavong, a co-founder and Managing Director of the Autism Association (left)


Mr Thongdy Phommavongsa, Public Speaker


On March 6th, BEQUAL, Laos Australia Institute and the Australian Embassy education teams joined a special Women’s Day lunch to hear Ms Viengsam Indavong and Mr Thongdy Phommavongsa. They talked about the actions they take in their lives that contribute to equality at home and in their community. Ms Viengsam shared a powerful message of vulnerability and how she is addressing it. Mr Thongdy shared a call to action for men to support women, the important role men play in addressing women’s rights and how this can benefit the whole family.

For many movements around the world a slogan is used – Nothing for us without us.  It is a powerful message to policy makers, as it reminds us of the importance of including the people affected, when decisions are made.  Ms Viengsam gave an excellent example of this, when she highlighted the importance of the family as carers and educators for children with disability, and how policy makers can potentially address this.

Both speakers called the audience to action and to consider what brave or bold actions will they take to ensure they make a difference in the lives of those who need our help.

Ms Viengsam Indavong is a co-founder and Managing Director of the Autism Association, the leading organisation for autism and other disability in Laos. Among her achievements, she is an Australian

Alumni, having completed her Masters in Disability Policy and Practice. Ms Viengsam is a leading voice for disability rights in Laos, and a successful disability policy advocate with major donors and government in Laos. Ms Viengsam’s leadership of the Autism Association includes fund-raising and the development of new ways of working with children and young people with disability. She is an inspiring leader in her field.

Mr Thongdy Phommavongsa is an experienced actor, singer and public speaker, with expertise reproductive health. He is currently a member of the senior management team at PSI (Population

Services International), and INGO operating in Laos. Amongst his achievements, Thongdy is successfully advocating for improved access to their reproductive health services for women and men in Laos, policy development with the Ministry of Health, fundraising and community mobilization. Thongdy is passionate about his work, and the difference it makes to people’s lives.