International Youth Day 2016: The Road to 2030

The following is a copy of a speech delivered by Boithatelo Khobotlo for International Youth Day 2016. Boithatelo is a member of Help Lesotho’s GIRL4ce Movement, where she participates in gender equity advocacy initiatives in her community.

“I am standing here today as a youth representative from the GIRL4ce movement under the organisation of Help Lesotho. This movement is fighting against girls and women abuse in areas of Child Early and Forced Marriage and Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Both girls and boys are part of this Movement and we are doing our best to raise awareness in our communities so girls will be protected and given support.

Our Ministers, teachers, parents and youth, we are gathered today to commemorate the International Youth Day and the theme for this year reads, “The Road to 2030: Eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable consumption and production”. As far as I am concerned there is no way we can eradicate poverty while there is still a lot of girls that are getting married at early ages, some are forced into marriages and so many are sexually abused. We have to keep our heads up and fight for a free Lesotho. We cannot do this alone. Boys! Boys! We need your help to fight all these forms of abuse. Most of the perpetrators are you. We see lots of girls who drop out from school because of pregnancy; we see lots of maternal mortality from girls not having access to help; we see lots of new HIV and STI’s infections; and we see lots of girls suffering from physical and emotional abuse.

You will agree with me that we cannot accept that out of 81% of girls and women who are abused only 3% of them are reporting the abuse. Why? Why should we be ashamed or scared to report abuse? There are laws there to protect us from abuse, so let us make sure that we enforce the laws for our protection.

How can we fight poverty with the abuse taking place? We are the leaders for today, we need to stand up and fight for our rights as girls and boys.

LET US BREAK THE SILENCE AND SAY NO TO ALL FORMS OF ABUSE TO WOMEN AND GIRLS!!!”