Pat on Lesotho’s back for strides towards SDG 5



MASERU – Lesotho is said to be doing well on its way to meeting SDG 5 by achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls with the recent enactment of the two Bills. The two Bills are the Counter Domestic Violence Act, N0. 14 of 2022; and the Harmonizing of the Rights of Customary Widows with the Legal Capacity of Married Persons’ Act, No. 15 of 2022.

The Bills seek to protect the rights of all citizens in domestic relations, including children who are victims of all forms of abuse, and enhance the economic status of 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. This is according to the Speaker of the National Assembly Tlohang Sekhamane, who was speaking on the occasion of celebrating International Women’s Day in Maseru this week. The event is meant to create a chance to celebrate women and all that they stand for while addressing the many challenges that women from different socio-economic backgrounds and races, still face in their day to day lives. Sekhamane said these include women with disabilities, women in rural areas, unemployed women, foreign women, young women, and women from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community.

He said in Lesotho, reports show that the most prevalent forms of abuse are psychological and economic, and a large majority of women have been made to accept being belittled and abused by men both verbally and physically as a norm, something about which nothing much can be done. “So, women bear domestic violence; they are ill-treated and denied their sexual and reproductive rights. Boys rape their grandmothers and forcibly take away their old age monthly stipends while relatives traffic their female dependents and men kill their wives. Al this happens in an environment of very understated and pleasant tones, such that there are no serious consequences for the perpetrators,” he added.

According to the UN report of 2022, women, girls and human rights groups are increasingly raising their voices to demand equality. In Lesotho, particularly, there has been substantial progress in the advancement of women’s freedoms as in 2018, 82.8 percent of women at the reproductive age of 15 to 49 years had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods. Paola Amadei, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Lesotho, indicated that the Parliament of Lesotho and the EU in Lesotho views International Women’s Day as a timely reminder of the efforts and works of thousands of women in years gone by who fought for women’s rights and gender justice. She said they are glad to contribute to creating an opportunity for an exchange between elected representatives and the citizenship, notably on relevant legislation to promote gender equality.

Minister of information, communications, science, technology and innovation, Nthati Moorosi, highlighted that 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. This discrimination and violence against women and girls, she said, is deeply rooted in the fabric of society so it is persistent and systematic. She said: “In recent years, there has been a recurrence of disbelief against and denial of international standards concerning women’s human rights, gender equality and gender-based violence.” Minister of gender, youth, sports, arts, culture and social development, Pitso Lesaoana, indicated that the two significant Bills form part of the conversation. The Counter Domestic Violence Act, 2022, aims to protect the rights of all citizens in domestic relations including children who are victims of all forms of abuse; be it 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.

“This Act aims to protect children from harmful practices where incoming spouses prevent them from having access to the estates of their deceased parents,” he continues. The Parliament of Lesotho and the EU look forward to engaging conversations 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. 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.

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