In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Parliament of Lesotho in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Lesotho will host a town-hall session to reflect on actions to advance the rights of women and girls in the country and present some of the legislative initiatives relevant to the achievement of gender equality. This will be a launch activity of a special program of a series of Taking Parliament to the People.
The event will be held on Wednesday, 8 March 2023 at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.
The programme of the event will comprise an intersectional dialogue between Parliament and women’s rights and youth groups, other civil society organisations, academic institutions and media. In the session parliamentarians and the public will also dissect two recently passed Bills that protect the rights of all citizens in domestic relations including children (Counter domestic violence Act), and enhance the economic status of customary widows, respectively.
Attendees can also expect insights regarding the Protection of the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
This year’s celebration will also be live-streamed to the public on the Lesotho National Broadcasting Services’ (LNBS) LTV, social media pages for a widespread conversation, allowing for real-time engagement.
Identified speakers from Parliament at this year’s celebration include the Honourable Speaker of the Parliament, Tlohang Sekhamane, President of the Senate, Honourable ‘Mamonaheng Mokitimi, Chairperson of the Social Cluster Hon. Mokhothu Makhalanyane, the Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus Hon. ‘Makatleho Motsoasele, the Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus Hon. Dr. Pinkie Manamolela, and the Secretary of the Women’s Caucus Hon. Senator ‘Mabataung Mokhathali. Members of the National Assembly and Senators are also expected to be in attendance.
Other key speakers will be both the Minister of Communications, Honourable Nthati Moorosi, and the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture and Social Development, Honourable Pitso Lesaoana, as well as the Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Paola Amadei.
Starting the conversation
“The Parliament of Lesotho and the EU in Lesotho views International Women’s Day as a timely reminder of the efforts and toils of thousands of women in years gone by who fought for women’s rights and gender justice. We are glad to contribute creating an opportunity for an exchange between elected representatives and the citizenship notably on relevant legislation to promote gender equality.” says Ambassador Paola Amadei.
“Although significant progress has been made globally in securing women’s rights, millions of women and girls continue to experience discrimination and violence, being denied their equality, dignity, autonomy, and even their right to life”, says the Honourable Minister of Communications, Nthati Moorosi. This discrimination and violence against women and girls, is deeply rooted in the fabric of societies, it is persistent and systematic. And in recent years, there has been a recurrence of scepticism against and denial of international standards concerning women’s human rights, gender equality and gender-based violence”, she added.
“The two significant forming part of this conversation are the Counter Domestic Violence Act, 2022, which aims to protect the rights of all citizens in domestic relations including children, who are victims of all forms of abuse – economic, social, physical, sexual, technological, emotional, verbal and psychological, and the Harmonizing of the Rights of Customary Widows with the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act, 2022”, says Minister Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture and Social Development, Honourable Pitso Lesaoana, MP. “With the recent enactment of these two Bills, Lesotho is well on its way to achieving SDG 5 – achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls”, he adds.
“This Act aims to enhance the economic status of the customary widows to enable them to exercise their economic and property rights in line with the provision of the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act, 2006, and incidental matters”, he continues.
More work needs to be done
Women, girls and human rights groups are increasingly raising their voices to demand equality. In Lesotho particularly, there has been substantial headway in the advancement of women’s freedoms as in 2018, 82.8% of women at reproductive age (15-49 years) had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods.
However, work still needs to be done in Lesotho to achieve gender equality.
The adolescent birth rate is 90.8 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 as of 2017, down from 91 per 1,000 in 2016. As of February 2021, only 23.3% of seats in Parliament were held by women. In 2018, 16.5% of women aged 15-49 years reported that they had been subject to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months.
Furthermore, women and girls aged 15+ spend 15.6% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 6.2% spent by men. As of December 2020, only 33.6% of indicators needed to monitor the SDGs (sustainable development goals) from a gender perspective were available, with gaps in key areas, in particular (https://data.unwomen.org/country/lesotho).
The Parliament of Lesotho and the EU look forward to an engaging conversation that will adopt strategies for advancing the dignity of girls and women in Lesotho and establishing structures needed for women to thrive, care for their families and excel in the workplace. This event will serve as a platform to allow participants to give an equal voice to women in decision-making. Parliament and the EU recognise that it has an obligation to build a country where women and girls can thrive.
Established well over a century ago, with the first gathering occurring on 8 March 1911, International Women’s Day is a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women globally. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality in all spheres.
For media inquiries contact:
Neo Mokatsa – National Assembly Press Office firstname.lastname@example.org – 58727157
Malebeoana Phakoana – Press Office of the Senate email@example.com – 58410011