Maseru, Mar. 08 — Two Houses of Parliament, Senate and National Assembly in collaboration with the European Union (EU) on Wednesday celebrated International Women’s Day in Maseru.
In her remarks, Minister of Information, Communication, Science, Technology and Innovation Ms. Nthati Moorosi said, as Minister of Communications, she has the responsibility to ensure that Lesotho has frameworks that address gender equality and gender based violence.
She said, the digital divide is blurry as about 35 percent of women are represented in Science, Innovation and Technology indicating that few women graduate in ICT.
She said, about 20 percent of women do not use the internet as men do yet they are the ones affected by cyber bullying.
She noted that although significant progress has been made globally in securing women’s rights, millions of women and girls experience discrimination and violence, being denied their equality, dignity, autonomy and right to life.
She added that this discrimination and violence against women and girls is rooted in the fabric of societies saying it is persistent and systematic. She said, 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 called on Members of Parliament and Senators to support a bill on Cyber Security to protect women against online abuse as this will increase women and girls participation in technology,
At the same event, Speaker of National Assembly, Mr. Tlohang Sekhamane said, the purpose of the event is threefold; it focuses on engaging society, taking Parliament to the people and marking the launch of observing and celebrating institutionalised days saying taking parliament to the people is a crucial step in democracy.
He said the celebration originated from May 1908 where a group of women were fighting against gender discrimination and inequality saying the celebration today reflects on progress made nationally, regionally and internationally.
He noted that this includes women living with disability, in rural areas, unemployed, employed and women in LGBTIQ society.
Mr. Sekhamane said, MPs have to enact pieces of legislation to emancipate and protect women citing that they have five years as the 11th parliament to ensure that the legislature protecting and emancipating women is passed.
On the other hand, EU Ambassador Paola Amadei said, the Parliament of Lesotho and the EU views the day as a reminder of the effects and toils of women who fought for women’s rights and gender justice.
She said they are glad to contribute, creating an opportunity for an exchange between elected representatives and the citizens, notably on relevant legislation to promote gender equality.
She mentioned that they have partnered with the Parliament because legislation can make a difference and accelerate the fight against gender based violence.
She noted that in 2022, about 32 percent of women were in the legislature and this is a progress which needs to be promoted so that there would be more women in Parliament in years to come.
Meanwhile, as part of celebrating the day, six girls between 14 and 18 years from different schools in the country will participate in a competition termed Ambassador for a Day where they will be shadowing different Head of Mission during a working day for first-hand experience of diplomatic activity in Lesotho.
The Head of Mission include EU Ambassador, Republic of China Ambassador, UNICEF Country Representative, British High Commissioner, UN Ambassador and South African High Commission.
Women, girls and human rights groups are increasingly raising their voices to demand equality. In Lesotho there has been substantial headway in the advancement of women’s freedoms as in 2018, 82.8 percent of women at reproductive age (15-49 years)had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods.
Established for over a century ago, with the first gathering occurring on March 08, 1911 International Women’s Day is a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political accomplishments of women globally. It also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality in all spheres. The theme for this year is “Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.”
Recently Lesotho enacted two Bills thus the Counter Domestic Violence Act 2022 and Harmonizing of the Rights of Customary Widows with the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act 2022.