|Lesotho: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 83 p.)|
|Chapter Eight: Gender|
The Government of Lesotho has made efforts to eradicate some of the discriminatory gender laws and to put in place - especially in the constitution of Lesotho - laws which provide for non-discrimination on the basis of sex, among others, and establishing the right of equality before the law and equal protection of the law irrespective of ones sex (Section 18 of the Constitution of Lesotho). However, the constitution - according to the draft policy on gender - allows discrimination against women under the law applicable to burial, devolution of property on death, and customary laws.
National Development Plans have provisions for gender equality. As we write this chapter, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, are organising a two-week workshop on Gender and Education for high-level and middle-level management of the Ministry, for implementation of the policy on gender.
A policy on the provision of basic education for all is in place; the question remains about whether such a policy will be implemented. The Lesotho Government is part of the international community, which strives to achieve gender equality. In 1974 the government acceded to the 1952 United Nations Convention on Political Rights of Women, and in 1995 it ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) with a reservation to article 2 (1) (Government of Lesotho, 1996: 15). Lesotho also anticipated in the Beijing conference and before the conference the ILO undertook a project in Lesotho and came up with a report titled "Promoting Gender Equality in Employment in Lesotho: An Agenda for Action" (ILO 1994).
At the Beijing Conference the government committed itself to, inter alia, setting up a Law Reform Commission to revise all laws, which discriminate against women, and to incorporate gender issues into the School Curriculum. The Law Reform Commission is now operational (Government of Lesotho, 1996).
8.4.1 Associations and other organisations
Besides the government, associations such as the Lesotho Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) are presently engaged in gender sensitisation campaigns where women are made aware of their legal status and rights. The Lesotho National Council of Women, the Womens Research Collective, Women and Law in Southern Africa, are just some of the organizations, which have gender sensitisation programmes for men and women. Some are specifically focusing on legal literacy as a tool for empowerment.
Despite all these efforts gender disparities continue unabated. One would like to believe that this situation continues as it is because some discriminatory laws are still in place, and that there is no mechanism for implementation of those which have been abolished. There is hope for further change, however, now that a policy on gender development is being drafted. The final draft of the gender policy calls for an "introduction of an intensive gender awareness education". (Government of Lesotho, 1996). It is further observed in the policy document that:
The difficulty of detecting gender bias in its various forms arises from the fact that it is deeply embedded in our customs, beliefs, practices, institutions and laws. It is therefore imperative for formal and non-formal gender sensitisation education to be undertaken to arrest and ultimately reverse gender inequalities. (Government of Lesotho, 1996: 20)
The Ministry of Education, the National University of Lesotho, Lerotholi Polytechnic, Lesotho Agricultural College and Lesotho Institute of Public Administration and Management have been singled out in the policy document as some of the institutions that will have to introduce gender studies in their curricula.