By: Thoboloko Nts’onyane
MASERU – The Acting Commissioner-General of the Revenue Service Lesotho (RSL) ‘Mathabo Mokoko said their organisation pays premium to mainstreaming of gender agenda within their structures.
This she said during the high-level Customs Officials in the World Customs Organisations (WCO) East and Southern Africa (ESA) region in Maseru on Monday this week.
“You may recall that WCO conducted a study in 2016, and it gathered roughly 60 replies from WCO Members, women make up approximately 36% of officers employed by Customs administrations, with figures ranging from 8% to 60% depending on the country. It is worth nothing that the statistics reveal that women hold approximately 30% of top managerial positions on average. These numbers show that there is still room for improvement in terms of equitable representation in Customs administrations.
“Let me give you comfort that as RSL we are not far behind in addressing the gender gaps within the organisation. Gender has become part of the RSL agenda and has gained momentum through Customs Modernisation Programme (CMP) and the Lesotho Tax Modernisation Project (LTMP) where a research and survey was undertaken. Followed by: drafting of the Gender Strategy, Training and The Gender Action plan,” she reflected.
The Acting Commissioner-General said encouraging gender equality, inclusion and diversity within Customs is not only “a matter of fundamental rights”, but also a “precondition for developing effective administrations capable of adapting to the fast-changing issues that globalisation and modern society offer”.
Mokoko further showed that RSL has mounted a Gender Desk and it is charged with the responsibility to ensure that policies within the organisation are gender sensitive adding that they are reaping the benefits.
She highlighted that RSL in concert with fellow SACU Member States had joined forces under Capacity building and Gender Mainstreaming.
The Acting Commissioner-General added: “being a diverse and inclusive organisation makes us stronger, more resilient and insightful. It assists us in better understanding the present, anticipating future difficulties and possibilities, and managing the pace, complexity, and cross-cutting nature of change. Inclusive diversity in all of its manifestations – ethnic, gender, or otherwise – is essential to our organization’s long-term success.”
Meanwhile, this year marks the 28th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calling for gender equality.
The goal number five of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) calls for the attainment of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”
Themed ‘Advancing Gender Inclusivity and Diversity in the ESA Region’ the three day event will end today.
This high-level event had attracted the participants from many countries across the region and the continent.
WCO ESA Vice Chair from Zimbabwe Batsirayi Chadzingwa said Lesotho signifies the heights to which they aspire to take the region’s gender agenda.
“The ESA region remains cognizant of the crucial role of gender equality, diversity and inclusion in nurturing the next generation for greater economic development, fairness and contentment at work in both government and private sector.
“As such, this important forum is envisioned as the first of a series of engagements on the topic and has a focus on the region and will result in the drafting of a regional trade policy/action plan with a Gender Inclusivity and Diversity (GID) perspective aimed at overcoming gender, inclusion and diversity inequalities by opening new opportunities for employment and prosperity,” he said.
Chadzingwa highlighted that the ultimate goal for gender mainstreaming in ESA is to achieve gender equality as well as implementing the performance management system that establishes equitable promotion criteria, training needs and rewards and equal pay for equal work.
The Vice Chair also noted that they seek to promote a better, more equitable working environment within the organisation and among the employees; increasing the effectiveness and sustainability kf gender mainstreaming initiatives in the workplace to equip staff with the capacity to identify and respond to gender concerns and opportunities to promote inclusive and sustainable development.
“There is no better motivation than working in an organisation or Administration where one is respected, and treated fairly and equally knowing that actions and decisions are not based on whether they are male or female, disabled or able bodied.”
The Principal Regional Advisor Regional Integration and Trade Division United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Brendah Phiri-Mundia reminded that the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda says there can be no sustainable development without gender equality.
Talking to the theme, she said it reflects the collective recognition and commitment to contribute more towards reducing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities in the ESA region and at continental level.
“To stress the levels of inequality and vulnerability, Africa currently accounts for the largest share of the world’s poor, at 54.8 % in 2022, overtaking South Asia with 37.6%. It is further estimated that 149 million or about 10% of Africa’s population remain at high risk of falling into poverty.
“Women and girls remain particularly vulnerable, and we are facing a potential reversal of the hard-won gains on gender equity.”