‘Women in Re­sis­tance’ ex­hi­bi­tion roars into life

Lesotho Times - - Lifestyle - Mo­halenyane Phakela

QUEEN ‘ Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Bereng Seeiso has lauded the Al­liance Fran­caise de Maseru (AF) ini­ti­ated “Women in Re­sis­tance”, say­ing the ex­hi­bi­tions would raise aware­ness on the plight of women and bol­ster ef­forts to­wards their em­pow­er­ment.

Speak­ing at the launch of the se­ries of artis­tic and cul­tural events cel­e­brat­ing the role of women in so­ci­ety at Ouh La La gar­dens in Maseru on Tues­day, Her Majesty said: “Women form an im­por­tant part of so­ci­ety and this se­ries of events will grant us the op­por­tu­nity to in­crease our un­der­stand­ing of their role in so­ci­ety.”

The events, which run from 5 to 30 May 2015, are meant to shine the spot­light on women and their strug­gles, which re­main largely un­known due to limited me­dia cov­er­age.

They are an ini­tia­tive of Al­liance Française de Maseru (AF), in con­junc­tion with the Euro­pean Union, United Na­tions Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP), Vo­da­com Le­sotho, Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank, the US Em­bassy and Hill­side Dig­i­tal Trust.

Queen ‘ Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Bereng Seeiso, who is also the ex­hi­bi­tion’s pa­tron, added that “Women in Re­sis­tance” aptly show­cases women’s role in so­ci­ety which is characterised by the quest for courage.

“Let us ap­plaud the com­mit­ment that women have in this his­tor­i­cal jour­ney in pic­tures and their quest for sur­vival, equal­ity and a strug­gle to ex­er­cise our rights,” she said.

“This also serves as a re­minder to all who have wit­nessed the re­struc­tur­ing poli­cies that opened up doors for women to par­tic­i­pate in all facets of devel­op­ment from one com­mu­nity to an­other.”

Libak­iso Mahloko, who spoke on be­half of the Women in Law or­gan­i­sa­tion, said women needed to be aware of their rights and condemn all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion by pri­ori­tis­ing gen­der equal­ity as well as con­demn­ing the at­ti­tudes of male supremacy.

Vo­da­com Le­sotho’s Catherine Mccarthy said the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant’s sup­port for the ex­hi­bi­tion was in line with their wom- en em­pow­er­ment drive.

“Over the 19 years of our op­er­a­tions in Le­sotho, we have con­tin­u­ously re­mained com­mit­ted to em­pow­er­ing Ba­sotho women and young girls by of­fer­ing them a plat­form to, not only re­alise their full po­ten­tial, but also to be justly recog­nised as cru­cial pil­lars in the devel­op­ment of their com­mu­ni­ties and the eco­nomic growth of the coun­try,” Mccarthy said.

“We re­cently launched nwomen –– an ini- tia­tive ded­i­cated to ad­dress­ing the needs of women in Le­sotho through the estab­lish­ment and sup­port of var­i­ous projects.”

She fur­ther re­vealed that Vo­da­com Le­sotho would hand over the por­traits cur­rently be­ing dis­played at the ex­hi­bi­tion to Morija Mu­seum af­ter trans­lat­ing them into Se­sotho for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to un­der­stand.

US am­bas­sador to Le­sotho, Matthew Har­ring­ton, said women em­pow­er­ment had “dramatically pos­i­tive” con­se­quences for the de- vel­op­ment of so­ci­eties.

“In most places, women are still un­der­val­ued and de­nied op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­trib­ute, leav­ing their voices un­heard and their health and safety un­pro­tected, which leaves their po­ten­tial wasted,” said Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton.

“Re­search shows that progress in women’s em­ploy­ment, health and ed­u­ca­tion can lead to greater eco­nomic growth and stronger so­ci­eties be­cause when women and men are equally em­pow­ered as po­lit­i­cal and so­cial ac­tors, gov­ern­ments are more rep­re­sen­ta­tive and ef­fec­tive.”

He quoted US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama who said: “The best judge of whether or not a coun­try is go­ing to de­velop is how it treats its women… But if women are op­pressed, abused or il­lit­er­ate, then they are go­ing to fall be­hind.”

Ac­cord­ing to Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton, the US had al­lot­ted $300 000 (about M3.2 mil­lion) to 14 gen­der ad­vo­cacy groups for small scale projects and an­other $225 mil­lion to help Le­sotho com­bat the HIV/AIDS epi­demic.

Also speak­ing at the event, the EU am­bas­sador to Le­sotho, Michael Doyle, said that the ex­hi­bi­tion brought at­ten­tion to women’s voices who, re­gard­less of cir­cum­stances, ad­vo­cate for their rights, equal­ity and jus­tice thus cre­at­ing bet­ter goals for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.how­ever, Am­bas­sador Duyn­houwer ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with the de­crease in the num­bers of women in the cur­rent gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, Serumula Per­form­ing Arts Academy’s ladies choir en­ter­tained the crowd as they viewed the ex­hi­bi­tions.

QUEEN ‘Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Bereng Seeiso (left) tours the “Women in Re­sis­tance”ex­hi­bi­tion along with Al­liance Fran­caise direc­tor Camille Ped­ereau on Tues­day.

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