LESOTHO: 2022 has been a long year for rural women

Rural women have been hit by many things this year including that the Covid-19 pandemic brought a lot changes in their lives. Climate change has also been creating havoc with the changing weather patterns, making it difficult to produce food.  So many women have fallen victim to Femicide in the country, having been murdered by their intimate partners. The national elections which took place in Lesotho, saw a change of government with three parties in coalition.

Despite the difficulties which rural women have faced this year, they steadfastly kept on trying and survived. The Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) in Lesotho, together with other SADC RWA country chapters, had their first ever seed audit.  The seed audit provided an opportunity to document the type of seeds that women have access to and the type of food which is grown. These seeds forms part of rural women’s identity as guardians of seeds. This audit is also meant to help women be aware of the alternative seeds they can use given climate change. These seeds have been passed on from generation to generation and the women refer to these seeds as their traditional seeds.

The second audit was the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) audit. We know that women are abused irrespective of age, whether they work or not, or are rural or not. The Rural Women’s Assembly decided to audit the situation on the ground in the country and get a sense of how deep the crisis is to help determine the best measures to advocate for to curb the violence. An alarming number of cases go unreported which allows perpetrators to continue to abuse more people or continue to violate their victims. The law still has loopholes including that it allows bail for the perpetrators and no safe houses for the victims when awaiting trial, which puts victims in danger since it takes long for these cases to be resolved.


This year we saw a change of government which was meant to be provide hope.  But now we end the year with a sharp increase in the price of basics including electricity, food, school fees, hospital fees and farming inputs. Rural women in Lesotho depend on subsistence farming for their day-to-day survival, but this year most of them were not able to go the fields during this summer cropping season. The farming inputs have not been available in the government stores and when they finally arrived, rural women were forced to buy from dealers who were chasing profits and these inputs became very expensive for the women.

Can we then say that 2023 will be a better year or will things get worse? Rural women in the country have organised themselves to try and fight for their rights and make the responsible people accountable but sadly, nothing is really changing. Instead, things keep getting worse. But rural women never give up and next year they will come back more organised and stronger than ever.

Hope for Rural Women Lesotho wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year!


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