BY : Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The reports have shown the high prevalence of HIV infection is rife in young women and adolescent girls as compared to other groups.

This disproportion has unduly perturbed the Disabled and HIV/AIDS Organization Lesotho (DHAOL)’s Programmes Director Thabo Mothibeli has said in an interview with this publication.

One way this organization seeks to redress this anomaly is through capacity-building initiatives it organizes for the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) being the economically active population.

Supported by Her Voice Fund, AGYW aspires to train girls to become resilient and be involved in issues that affect them.

Mothibeli said they have established in their recent training that they feel excluded in decision-making processes on developmental issues.

He said the participants were empowered to attend lipitso, public gatherings, and air their views on such platforms so that their concerns are heard and ultimately addressed. This move, Mothibeli said it will also prepare and empower those who would wish to run for political office in the future.

The participants were also trained in menstrual hygiene.

They further demand that the government funds sanitary pads arguing that menstruation is a natural process whereas sexual intercourse is voluntary activity ye the condoms are supplied free of charge but sanitary pads are sold.

Nthati Phakoe from TUNASAFIRI, a non-government organization that raises awareness and creates advocacy on mental health-related issues, said although they can make autonomous decisions over their bodies if they lack proper guidance from either family, community, or associated structures they can make “wrong decisions”.

Phakoe noted that poor decisions are a result of a lack of empowerment, poor information dissemination, and the absence of good role models.

She further said that due to a lack of role models and correct information, the AGYW lacks the power to negotiate safe sex practices, and sometimes they can be cheated on by older people to engage in intergenerational sex.

“They need good role models; they need to be pruned; they need to love themselves; put themselves first,” she said adding that if they have dreams, they are able to work on them. 

The training was graced by the presence of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hon ‘Matlhohonolofatso Tšepang Tšita Mosena and Hon. ‘Mantoetsi Mohatonyane .

DHAOL is a country lead, and it boasts six organizations that are grantees.