By: T’soloane Mohlomi & Thoboloko Ntšonyane

The delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Lesotho (EU) in collaboration with Alliance Francaise, World Vision and Sesotho Media Development recently hosted an event advocating for the ending of gender based violence (GBV).

Hosted at the Farmers Market at Alliance Francaise in Maseru, the event was held in the background of the observation of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence mainly against women. In light of the day the World Health Organization (WHO) dictates that everyone has the right to a life free of violence and coercion, however in the world health body’s recent estimates lunched in 2021, results show that almost 1 in 3 women worldwide experiences physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Speaking at the event the EU’S Head of delegation to Lesotho Ms. Paola Amadei said according to investigations conducted in 2016 17% of women in Lesotho were victims of Gender Based Violence. She further said the job of the EU in Lesotho is to be a voice of those victims so they can access remedial services without any hindrance or discrimination.

“As the European Union we invest in the prevention of gender based violence and the promotion of the rights of everybody, as a fundamental pillars in allowing women to enjoy human rights and introducing measures allowing everybody to break the cycle of violence,” she said.

The European Union (EU) delegation to Lesotho having been a strategic partner to Lesotho for nearly 50 years retains a traditional cooperation with the country, and many of its programmes which reside in the areas of water, energy, governance and social protection.

Subsequently EU Youth representative ‘Maphakisane Letlola said that Basotho youth should play a pivotal role in the fight against gender based violence in their country.

“After the covid19 pandemic some gender gaps were expected to have widened, adolescent girls and young women have become more vulnerable to GBV and unwanted pregnancies and child marriage. About 42% of Basotho women report to have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lives with a significant increase after the pandemic.

“Being here and delivering this speech I am taking a bold step towards standing up against gender based violence, how have you helped a sister and neighbour,” she said. The UNITE to End Violence against Women initiative is a multiyear effort to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world.

The 16 days of activism against gender based violence initiative, launched in 2008 under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, and was created to support the civil society with the 16 days of activism against gender based violence campaign around the world.

Managed by UN Women, UNITE calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, media, and the UN system to join forces to address the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

The global theme of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2023, is “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.”

In support of this campaign, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls.

As the 2023, UNiTE campaign theme. In every country and culture, more action is needed to ensure women in all their diversity live free of violence and coercion. Health impacts of violence can last a lifetime, affecting physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. WHO plays a key role in bringing attention to and responding to violence against women as a public health, gender equality and human rights issue.