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Big steps for women



The 11th parliament will see a high number of women MPs than the previous parliaments, with Honourable Nthomeng Majara as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and Mrs Tšepang Tšita ‘Matlhohonolofatso Mosena as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

This is the first time in history that Lesotho has a woman Deputy Prime Minister. Now we do believe this is a new era and along with it comes great changes that shall benefit the people. We also have Honourable Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane who is the Minister of Finance and Honourable Nthati Moorosi as the Minister of Information, Communication, Science & Technology, Arts and Culture.

For a very long time a lot of people have been fighting for gender equality and the dream is finally coming to reality. Some women have been labelled feminists for trying to voice out their opinions about equality but I always make it a point to not put labels on people who perceive things differently from how I do. I believe that is the right thing to do, for every one of us.

Yes we have also had Nthoi Motsamai who preceded Teboho Kolane as the first female Speaker of the National Assembly and held office from 1999 to 2012 but this is something we never imagined could actually happen in Lesotho.

You see Lesotho is a patriarchal country. Politics in the motherland is by and large a male thing but at least we now seem to be getting prepared for a new era and a new way of doing things in Lesotho. Since independence in 1966 we have had minimal representation of women until now.

Cultural norms in Lesotho have, for decades, systematically left out women from participating in a lot of things in this country including sustaining its economy. The issues of land have also not been working in favour of women for a very long time but Lesotho is currently working to ensure that women have the same land rights as men.

As a cultural norm, back in the days, women were not allowed to inherit land or any property after their husband’s death but the Inheritance Act is being revised that will allow for women to have tenure in any of their late partners property without having to consult their marital families.

This shall give equal land rights to anyone irrespective of their gender. I see the days of patriarchy fading with all these new developments taking place in our country. It’s high time both genders are allowed to sit at the same table and share ideas and opinions without the other being derided for being born female and the other feeling entitled to everything.

Due to economic hardships, many men back in the days would migrate to South Africa to fend for themselves leaving their women behind and this wielded them power as head of households and they had to control their households and make financial decisions. This was not because women never felt the same weight men felt but because their capabilities to “hustle” were undermined.

Years later, we see the very same men who doubted women’s strength to work hard sharing duties in SA mines with the very same women they would leave behind to worry about families. This did not only end there.

Women have grown tired of reserving certain fields for men and we see them today diving deep in politics too and writing history.

I came across an interesting post on social media over the weekend but it was not a fight inciting post (because any politically related question lately starts a fight) and the person was wondering if women still lack somewhere in terms of excellence since there are only three women ministers in a total of 15 ministers. There are a number of possibilities to this question.

It could be because not all of them are capable (but how they managed to score votes that put them in parliament would be a difficult question for them to answer). It could be that women are too cynical to participate in politics because they are a male dominated field and a very dangerous game to take part in.

It could also be because we doubt women can do half the job men in politics do, half of it is to lie and snip what belongs to the electorates though but that is not where my point is.

But what could be the most possible cause is that sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes we lack aptitude and think with our heart and not our mind. We are not the forgiving kind and can block opportunities because we do not get along with so and so who is at the receiving end of what we want to achieve.

Power intoxicates us and boosts our egos so much that we think by holding a certain high position we own the world and everyone that walks on it. Power should not turn us into maniacs but should humble us, teach us humanity and not overwhelm us with pride.

The high numbers of women who are part of this parliament should not make us forget that we still have to work on ourselves so that people can start giving us the benefit of the doubt and believe in us. These high numbers should not grow our egos and heads.

It should teach us humanity and inspire us to work hard to be accepted for the strengths we possess and the hard work we are capable to put in everything we do to change our lives and those of the people around us, change how people perceive women and start seeing them as women who can contribute towards building communities, states and the world.

Bokang Masasa

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