Establishing gender equity is essential to creating sustainable social change. Despite significant legislative changes promoting gender equity and the rights of women, cultural barriers and limited enforcement continue to limit the implementation of these changes at the family, peer and community levels. Gender inequity severely impacts the opportunities of girls and women to make decisions for themselves. Abuse, sexual violence and HIV transmission are common issues that stem from power imbalances between men and women.
Myths that foster gender inequity and the spread of HIV still flourish in rural Lesotho. Girls and women are disproportionately impacted by unhealthy stereotypes that often lead to severe consequences including sexual violence, abuse, and a severe lack of opportunities.
By empowering girls and educating boys, Help Lesotho is working to build a critical mass of people who are committed to gender equity. Our programs support girls and women to heal from their trauma, Help Lesotho intentionally includes boys and men in the struggle for gender equity given their essential role in fostering sustainable behavioural change to achieve social justice.
Help Lesotho provides a safe, non-judgmental environment to question and openly discuss issues related to gender equity in an atmosphere of psychosocial support to foster understanding by boys, girls and women. Discussions on gender challenge harmful practices, rigid social norms, gender-based violence, abuse and unhealthy relationships.
It is a unique feature that Help Lesotho’s gender equity education and training is offered to young men as well as women because both genders require the knowledge and confidence to achieve equity, reduce gender-based violence and foster human rights. The programs address these challenges by fostering doubt about unhealthy myths and beliefs, enhancing the cognitive skills required for analysis and healthy decision making, examining the components of self-esteem and self-protective behaviours, and practicing simple strategies for self-protection.
The Harsh Reality of Gender Inequity in Lesotho
- Lesotho has the world’s 2nd highest rate of AIDS
- Women are more vulnerable to contracting HIV—in the 15-24 age bracket, twice as many women as men are HIV positive
- Based on GDP, Lesotho’s poverty level ranks #149 out of 184 countries
- Women are disproportionately affected by poverty, leading to: lack of education … human trafficking … prostitution … depression … hopelessness
- 83% of women in Lesotho have experienced some form of sexual violence
- Powerlessness and vulnerability lead to sexual violence and abuse
- Patriarchal values and norms create power imbalances and limit women’s rights
- Stereotyping of girls and women as ‘lesser’ leads to: early marriage … bride prize … lack of land rights … inability to be decision-makers
To learn more about gender equity, Help Lesotho recommends the following sites: