Theme: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!
On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March) we celebrate the courageous and determined women who have broken down barriers so women in their communities and countries can claim their rights and realize their full potential. The UN system stands with the Basotho nation and renew its commitment to achieve gender equity and justice as equality for women is progress for all.
2015 is a milestone year for women’s rights internationally. It is more than 100 years since the establishment of International Women’s Day, over 30 years since the adoption of the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and 20 years since the United Nations Beijing Platform of Action, when the international community committed to take action to advance women’s rights and promote gender equality worldwide.
We have seen some progress in Lesotho in committing to ending gender discrimination through such normative instruments as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action+20, the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development as well as the Millennium Declaration. These commitments now need to be followed by full implementation and increased accountability. Inequality between men and women still remains the world’s most widespread form of exclusion. This is not only a violation of human rights but also a significant barrier to sustainable development and poverty eradication. Reducing gender inequalities has a positive impact on a country’s GDP and can contribute significantly to overall poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Access to education has increased for girls at all levels; governments in many countries are acting to protect women and girls from violence, including by adopting new laws; and many countries have put in place legislation to promote women’s rights and access to land. In driving this forward, Lesotho has been committed to advancing gender equality, empowering women economically through entrepreneurship training twinned with access to finance; implementing MDG Acceleration Framework on maternal and child health, as well as through enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the Equality of Married Persons Act, and the review of the Land Act, giving women power to own land – to mention a few.
Yet we are some distance from achieving internationally agreed goals on gender equality and women empowerment, hence the need to redouble our efforts to achieve the future we want. Advancing gender equality is critical to realizing global development goals across all areas of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, from reducing poverty to promoting health, human rights, reducing young people vulnerability including adolescent girls, and good governance. Greater commitment and coordinated action are required from all stakeholders to address violence against women and girls; increasing the participation of women in decision-making; reducing gender inequality dimensions of HIV, in education, prevention of HIV and mitigation of the epidemic; enhancing protection and well-being of girls and boys and future generations.