LESOTHO: Rural women still not part of the Agenda

Even after the national elections, rural women in Lesotho still have no hope that their concerns and demands will be answered. Not even when the youth decided to overthrow the government, which has been in existence for more than 20 years with different political parties, has real hope emerged. All the party’s manifestos are silent about how they will improve rural women’s lives, The women have been promised, amongst others, a better pension but not much is said about their well-being.

This means that rural women will still struggle to get their traditional/organic seeds in the market. The use of expensive fertilisers and pesticides will continue even though it has been proven that it is one of the reasons why we are experiencing food insecurity in the country. Households are still food insecure and the question remains – whether we will continue like this for the next five years?

We are in the summer ploughing season but most farmers are experiencing seed shortages and others, especially rural women, do not have money to buy seeds. None of the governments agricultural programs introduced over the years have produced very encouraging results.

Everyday we hear in the news that women and girls have been kidnapped, missing and/or found dead. We are hoping that with a new government in place there will be some change. But even with the new coalition of three parties ruling, they will still not meet the two thirds of seats in Parliament required for them to pass new laws. This means women’s lives will still be in danger as our courts grant M500.00 bail to the murderers and rapists who then go on to continue to roam our streets. The Police Child and Gender Protection Unit reports show that from January to July 2022 there have been 184 sexual offences and 45 assault and rape cases perpetrated against women.

As the new government is put in place, rural women remain uncertain what the future will look like for them. What is already clear is that they will still have to walk long distances for them to access to health care services. They will still have to travel a long distance to get the basic services such as access to banks, stores or government institutions. The economy of the country is so bad that even the incoming Prime Minister has said he is not going to take his salary but rather invest in the projects that will make money for the country and its people. He has down sized his Cabinet positions from 35 to 15, but will this bring about the change we need, or will this make the parties in coalition with him (who are power hungry) cross political benches with the votes from their constituencies? Will we see history repeating itself when the political instability caused the country to have two governments in one term, in a five year timespan?

We live in an era where we see rural women are still forgotten and ignored.

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