Ambassador Brewer's Remarks at the International Women's Day commemoration
Please allow me to pay my respects to:
His Majesty King Letsie III;
The Right Honorable the Prime Minister Ntate Matekane;
Honorable President of the Senate;
Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly;
Honorable Deputy Prime Minister;
Honorable Members of His Majesty’s Cabinet;
Their Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations;
Honorable Members of the Senate and the National Assembly;
Senior Government Officials;
Members of the Press;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
All Protocols Observed.
Lumelang and good morning bo ‘M’e le bo Ntate.
We come together today to celebrate the incredible achievements of women around the world, and to renew our commitment to gender equality. Though there has been much progress in the fight for equality, we must also acknowledge the tremendous challenges that still remain.
Women continue to face barriers to education, employment, and political representation. Women and girls continue to experience gender-based violence at alarming rates. Here in Lesotho, for example, gender-based violence is at epidemic levels, with one in three women and girls reporting abuse by an intimate partner. And though Lesotho has passed laws providing equal rights to men and women in marriage, customary law continues to subordinate women to men in many areas, and a Constitutional Article allows discrimination based on this law.
We congratulate the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho for passing the recent bills against Gender Based Violence and upholding the right of all married women to inherit property. We encourage these laws to be respected throughout the country.
The UN’s theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” reminds us of the urgent need to address the digital gender gap. This gap continues to expand economic and social inequalities between men and women.
In Lesotho, like many other countries around the world, women face significant barriers to accessing and using technology. The Gender Snapshot 2022 report by UN Women shows that women’s exclusion from the digital world has led to a loss of 1 trillion U.S. dollars from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade. This loss is projected to increase to 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars by 2025 if action is not taken.
As we celebrate the women and girls who are advancing technology and digital education, we must also recognize that there is still much work to be done. We must help women and marginalized groups adopt new technologies. They can then create innovative solutions that meet the needs of their communities.
We must also address the issue of online gender-based violence, which is prevalent in Lesotho and many other countries. A recent study of 51 countries revealed that 38% of women had personally experienced online threats of violence. This is unacceptable. We must create safe and secure digital spaces where women and girls can freely express themselves and participate in the digital economy without fear of violence or harassment.
Innovation and education in the digital age are critical components of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
In commemoration of International Women’s Day, let us renew our commitment to promoting gender equality through technology. Let us all work together to create a world where every woman and girl has access to and can fully participate in the digital world. As the saying goes in Sesotho, “kopano ke matla,” or “unity is strength.”
Thank you. Kea Leboha.