Gaps found in Gender Equality policy



MASERU – The World Bank gender assessment report has found a lot inequality gaps in Lesotho’s gender equality policy. According to the report released in Maseru yesterday in collaboration with the government of Lesotho, there are gaps identified about the policy actions that can be taken to limit the persistent gender gaps and promote equal benefits for girls and women.

Even though the assessment report acknowledges the noteworthy progress that Lesotho has made to promote gender equality with a strong policy framework, there are gaps concerning the contradictions with the customary law on critical aspects about the inheritance of girls and women.

The findings include the fact that insufficient monitoring of laws continues to limit the intended effects of gender-progressive national law and policy framework.

Some of the identified gaps include land rights ownership towards girls and women. The report states that even though recent legislative changes have improved women’s access to and ownership of land, especially in urban areas, local chiefs continue to have significant influence in the land administration system.

It further notes that “with the enactment of the Land Act of 2010, women’s access to and ownership of land in Lesotho, especially in urban areas, has improved significantly, but the full intended effects of the act are constrained by poor implementation and forum shopping.”

During the launch, Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, Likeleli Tampane, said the report will help to address the gender gaps that are likely to widen due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. She gave an example that such gaps include adolescent and young women becoming more vulnerable to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), early or unwanted pregnancies, and child marriage, which the country must tackle with urgency.

The report states: “The on-going reform of inheritance laws aims at harmonising customary and a formal legal system to ensure equal status under the law of women and girls. This process was on-going in 2022.”

It further reveals that “legal pluralism, social norms, lack of awareness, and limited capacity to implement the Land Act of 2010 means that women continue to face challenges, particularly in rural areas.”

It continues, “since customary law is dominant in rural areas and most Basotho women are married under custom, the benefits of the Act have not accrued to them in their entirety. This is due to the failure to review and align the relevant provisions of the Laws of Lerotholi (compiled in 1903) with the Legal Capacity of the Married Persons Act of 2006 in order to harmonise the legal position on the rights of women married by customary rites.”

According to the report, local chiefs are, therefore, considered to be guardians of customary laws and social norms hence they continue to have significant influence in land administration system. In 2003, Lesotho adopted its first Gender and Development Policy (GAD Policy) with a view to achieving gender equality in various sectors.

During its implementation, there were notable achievements including the enactment of establishment of the Lapeng One-Stop Centre for victims of gender based violence and the enactment of the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act 2006.

The vision of this 2003 GAD Policy was to ensure equality of all opportunities between women, men, girls and boys and other marginalised groups so that development efforts could have an equal impact on all.

However, despite this vision, women, girls and other vulnerable groups in Lesotho continue to experience different forms of discrimination and violation of their fundamental freedoms and human rights.

The Lesotho Gender and Development Policy was done at the end of the Millennium Development Goals and at the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals, its final draft was done in 2018.

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