Speech by the UN Resident Coordinator at the validation meeting of the Beijing +25 Lesotho Report
Bo Mme le Bo-Ntate, Khotsong. Please allow me to pay my respects to:
HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE III,
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER,
THE HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE,
HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY,
HIS LORDSHIP PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL,
HER LADYSHIPSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE,
HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT,
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER,
HONOURABLE MINISTERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT,
THEIR LORDSHIPS JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT,
YOUR EXCELLENCIES MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS,
DEAR HEADS OF UN AGENCIES AND UN LESOTHO COLLEAGUES,
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR,
ORGANIZATIONS AND MEDIA HOUSES,
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE YOUTH DEAR UN COLLEAGUES,
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
ALL PROTOCOL OBSERVED
On behalf of the UN Country Team in Lesotho I am pleased to welcome you all at this important meeting today, the Launch and validation of Beijing +25 Lesotho Country Report. This report will be presented at a very important forum: the next Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference in New York in 2020.
Let me start by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, particularly for the leadership of the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation for organizing this forum and all our partners who have been engaged in this work.
In September 1995 a very diverse public, coming from around the globe, comprising activists, media and various other people from different sectors converged in Beijing, China, with only one thing in mind - gender equality and the empowerment of all women, everywhere.
That was the historic Fourth World Conference on Women. The conference came up with a defining framework for change – the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a blueprint for advancing women’s rights, focusing on 12 critical areas of concern.
The Platform of Action continues to guide our struggle against constraints and impediments to the empowerment of women around the world; it is a powerful source of guidance and inspiration for the advancement of women, even 25 years later.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
As we validate Lesotho’s Beijing+25 Report today, we also celebrate collective successes of the Government of Lesotho as well as the Civil Society Organizations, development partners and all stakeholders in the quest for gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment.
This report gives a picture of what have been the most important achievements, challenges and set-backs in the progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women over the past five years and beyond, based on the 12 critical areas contained in the Beijing Declaration.
These include issues such as; women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making and; the human rights of the woman and the girl-child.
In this year’s report, the critical areas of concern are read in conjunction with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the nine targets of SDG 5, which speak to gender equality and women’s empowerment. These targets include a series of gender-related targets addressing issues similar to the 12 critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Since 1995, Lesotho has developed some of the much-celebrated laws that emancipated women from their historical minority, like the Land Act of 2010 and the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act of 2006.
The Kingdom of Lesotho has also developed laws that are accommodating of women and their engagement into the labour force, such as the Labour Code of 1992 and its progressive amendments for private sector which has made progress on the rights of women to maternity leave.
The country has also made major strides in advancing education and training for women and girls, with the Education Act of 2010 making a specific mention of the right of girls to access education. As United Nations, we are aware of efforts by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls and all other vulnerable groups. All these efforts resonate well with the principle of “leaving no one behind”.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite all these achievements, there are still challenges. There report provides evidence that women remain marginalised by poverty due to high unemployment. The situation for those in the rural areas, especially heads of households, is exacerbated by the recent droughts that Lesotho has been experiencing from 2015. These climatic shocks affected the livelihoods of most women in the rural areas who rely mostly on farming. These are also the same women who face challenges in accessing land and economic resources. Moreover, women are still facing multiple challenges such as the high maternal mortality rate, high HIV prevalence, especially for adolescent girls, gender-based violence and harmful cultural practices like child marriage. All these impede progress in achieving equality for women. And the situation can get even worse and disheartening for rural women and girls.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the report indicates, with the support of all stakeholders, government, CSOs and the UN we all have a role to play to remove all barriers to women’s rights. We need to step up our collective efforts to eradicate child marriage and the ever-escalating teenage pregnancies that have negative impact of the development of girls. We need to accelerate gender equality as it is central to the development agenda and the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The elimination of harmful cultural practices such as early and forced child marriages, violence and human trafficking of women for sexual exploitation are some of the key factors to achieving this.
Increasing access to sexual and reproductive health rights of women is of utmost importance, for they have a direct relationship with the health and development of women. I have no doubt, if we pull our forces together, as the UN, Government, civil society and all partners; we will overcome and eradicate the root causes of gender inequality and lay the foundation for rights and equal opportunities for all women and girls in Lesotho.
On behalf of the United Nations, I wish to renew our commitment to support the empowerment of women and girls in Lesotho!