Devel­op­ment: Are women driv­ers or pas­sen­gers?

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - So­fonea Shale

SEV­ERAL de­bate ses­sions have been held by dif­fer­ent agen­cies; state and non-state alike. The re­cent of such was a public de­bate on “Women as Driv­ers of Devel­op­ment” or­gan­ised as part of cel­e­bra­tion of Euro­pean Union week.

In­ter­est­ing and thought pro­vok­ing pre­sen­ta­tions made on the role of women and the need to em­power and sup­port them con­tinue to in­spire ac­tivists. What re­mains un­clear, how­ever, is whether women are driv­ers of devel­op­ment or just pas­sen­gers?

Be­sides some strong claims, there is con­sid­er­able ev­i­dence that women in Le­sotho and per­haps in other coun­tries play a very sig­nif­i­cant role in devel­op­ment.

The ef­fort by the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment in bridg­ing the gap be­tween the boy and girl child in ed­u­ca­tion enrolment is recog­nised as best glob­ally by the Global Gen­der Gap In­dex of World Eco­nomic Fo­rum of 2014.

The reser­va­tion of a third of seats in com­mu­nity coun­cils for women and the ze­bra sys­tem in the for­mu­la­tion of party pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion lists are re­garded as pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments to­wards em­pow­er­ing women po­lit­i­cally.

In Le­sotho, it is women who take poverty head on by en­gag­ing in self-help projects in the vil­lages such as Khoho Mphe­lise, Lema u Je which en­gages in small-scale eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties.

A con­sid­er­able per­cent­age of the more than 100 000 small and medium-sized en­ter­prises es­ti­mated to be op­er­a­tional in this King­dom are led by women.

The peo­ple who stood firm and pro­vided care, sup­port and fought dis­crim­i­na­tion against peo­ple in­fected by HIV and AIDS were mostly women.

When the po­lit­i­cal divide ha­rassed ev­ery facet of the so­cial fi­bre of this na­tion, in­clud­ing di­vid­ing church, the only two grass­root move­ments that re­mained im­mune were the foot­ball fra­ter­nity and burial so­ci­eties of which the lat­ter is led by women.

Le­sotho has more ed­u­cated women than men and fe­males in the pri­vate sec­tor are run­ning some of the most suc­cess­ful busi­nesses in the King­dom. Fur­ther­more, women in this coun­try hold dif­fer­ent po­si­tions of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara is fe­male, the Speaker of Na­tional As­sem­bly Ntl­hoi Mot­samai is fe­male, the Gover­nor of the Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho Retšelisit­soe Mat- lanyane is fe­male, Pres­i­dent of the Le­sotho Coun­cil of Non-gov­ern­men­talern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions Mam­pho Thulo is fe­male, the Le­sotho High­lands Devel­op­ment ment Author­ity is led by Re­filoe Tlali, a woman, the pres­ti­gious di­a­mond min­ing ng com­pany is led by fe­male, the award win­ning Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Ac­count Le­sotho is led by fe­male, Le­sotho Sport ort and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion is­sion is led by fe­male, thee Na­tional Olympics Co­mom­mit­tee is led by fe­male, ale, a lady who has con­nvinc­ingly de­feated d male com­peti­tors on n more than two suc­ces­sive terms of fours years each, many fe­male in­tel­lec­tu­als lec­ture and head de­part­ments at the in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing, Maseru Dis­trict Coun­cil has been led by fe­male coun­cil­lor since 2011, many schools are led by fe­male lead­ers as prin­ci­pals, many fe­male par­ents have brought up many lead­ers of to­day as sin­gle par­ents, the list of con­vinc­ing women in­volve­ment is end­less.

But are women driv­ers of devel­op­ment, pas­sen­gers or at best chauf­feur-driven VIPS in the process that is male dom­i­nated?

Per­haps be­fore re­spond­ing, it might be nec­es­sary to de­fine devel­op­ment. Con­sider- ing that like any other so­cial phe­nom­e­non, it may not have sin­gle def­i­ni­tion devel­op­ment can in gen­eral terms be un­der­stood as an in­te­grated change of po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions in line with col­lec­tive pref­er­ences.

Whether the process of change be­comes evo­lu­tion­ary or rev­o­lu­tion­ary is a con­scious hu­man ac­tion.

When one is the driver of devel­op­ment, which is now known to be a con­scious process, de­ter­mines not only the di­rec­tion, but speed,

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Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara

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