Lesotho: Women Block Gender Equality Drive in Local Government – Minister

Women in our communities and nationwide, in local and national governance politics, seem to elect men to be politicians and occupy the most superior political positions in the country.”

This was said by the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane, at the official opening of a two-day gender summit which commenced on April 14, 2014 in Maseru, Lesotho.

Talking about the involvement and participation of

men and women in local government, the minister indicated that woman more often choose men for leadership positions hence why there is a large number of men in high ranks of decision-making. “This is why men will always be dominant in a number of community governance most of the time,” appealing to men to partner seriously with women to correct this gender equality insensitivity.

“We need everybody to help us achieve the 50/50 strategy by 2015 and beyond. Each and every person in this country must be engaged in gender issues.”

As he continued he pointed out that a huge number of women are not keen in getting involved in the local and national politics, yet they have a great natural ability for community development, a statement that sounded to resound the wise words of civil activist, Mahatma Ghandi, when he said: “Men can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.”

He concluded this point by mentioning that “some women seem think that politics and governance is a preserve of men, while “the fact is that we are all – men and women – equally capable in politics and governance matters.”

The Minister therefore urged men to give woman a chance and help empower them every step of the way towards gender equality in community leadership and various levels of political leadership. In this way, men can be meaningfully engaged in gender inequality eradication, ending by saying equality gender intolerance in politics and public governance is as good as literal violence that is normally meted out to women. With this statement he once again sounded like Ghandi who once said: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

Speaking at the same event, Kali Molefe of Thaba-Tseka Local Government District Council, responded to the minister’s appeal by saying that his district has already heeded the gender equality clarion call from Gender Links and the government by focusing on encouraging men to partake in promoting gender equality. “We have already began to sensitize men about this issue, and we have received an encouraging response.

Molefe further highlighted that men from his community these days, in serious attempts not to bar gender equality drive and ditch all social ills associated to gender discrimination, allow their wives to attend school, and they share house chores with them – that is, things which were regarded to womanly. And, “they are encouraged to participate in politics, as we consider them capable in political leadership.”

He cited that this development came about “after we talked to men about gender equality”, adding that thereafter “some husbands have begun to help their wives in taking care of infants and this is a great start.”

Finally, he said he is “greatly excitedly surprised to realize that even men in the mountains like those in Thaba-Tseka show such interest in a matter like this one – gender equality.” He urged men to be part of gender equality support groups which have been set up in various villages countrywide.

Another participant from Kanana Community Council in Berea district, ‘Malesoli Lesoli, said that the female councilors are assertive and effective in decision-making, which is beneficial to the whole village.

She also stated that there is also one woman among them who owns a construction company, which is fairly supported by the community council and the community at large.

Lesoli displayed another positive gender development experience in her community where men have joined the small cooperatives which have been formed by women, adding that “people show so much respect to their local woman chief – who is encouraging the cooperatives – just like they would normally do if they were under a male chief

“They now feel not forced to work with and help women, and undertake community development in partnership with then”, she noted. “Because of these, decisions are discussed among men and women, and they often successful”, Lesoli added.

The Mafeteng District Council representative ‘Matokelo Damane affirmed that gender equality is key and an important step towards Lesotho’s growth in public governance because once men and women are weight the same great community and national development results would be reaped.

Damane said: “Some men are really working hard to support women for the wellbeing of the whole community and this could also help in the boost of the country’s economy in one way or another.” She continued by arguing that the traditionally men has to be ditched now because it is seriously detrimental to gender equality which is necessary for a truly democratic local government.

While wrapping up she said that she is glad that she is part of this summit because she has learnt so much from what other people have said and she feels empowered, thereby summing up the whole mood of the summit.

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