Allow me to pay my respects to:
His Majesty King Letsie III
The Right Honourable the Prime Minister
Honourable President of Senate
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly
Your Lordship the Chief Justice
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister
Your Lordship Judges of the High Court
Honourable Members of the Council of State
Your Excellencies Head of Diplomatic Missions and Heads of International Organizations
Honourable Members of Parliament
Senior Government officials
Head of Parastatals, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations and Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
GOOD MORNING EXCELENCIES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
It is an honour to be here with you this morning as we are gathered to launch the 2021 State of World Population Report. Allow me, programme director to congratulate United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for consistently and relentlessly providing the State of World Population Reports on annual basis, that relay important messages about the State of World Populations.
As has been said earlier, the theme for this year is “My body is my own: Claiming the right to autonomy and self-determination”. This theme tries to inform us that the bodily anatomy is a universal right that must be upheld. It shows how critical many of the shortfalls in bodily autonomy are; many have worsened under the pressures the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, record shows an increased number of women and girls at risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early marriage. The theme also provides us with insights as to how gender disparities can be redressed. The real sustained success largely depends on uprooting gender inequality and all forms of discrimination and transforming the social and economic structures that maintain them.
We should note that national development agenda cannot be achieved until women; girls and young people are able to make their own choice in reproductive health issues. The government of Lesotho respects bodily autonomy and strives to achieve sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all through education, and laws and policies made. This is apparent, as the Government has achieved numerous strides on the right to bodily autonomy since the 1994 ICPD Cairo Summit. Government has institutionalized comprehensive sexuality education at all levels. It is compulsory and examinable. If women and girls are educated, they are likely to make their own decisions about contraception and healthcare. Comprehensive sexuality education is vital as it instils respect, consent and provides equality, which are fundamental ingredients to achieving bodily autonomy.
Programme Director, Ladies and Gentleman,
The Government of Lesotho has made numerous policies and laws that support the right to bodily autonomy. They include Sexual Offenses Act 2003, legal Capacity of Married Persons 2006, Compulsory Education Act 2010, Penal Code Act 2010 and Anti Human Trafficking Act 2011. This laws are meant to support women rights to have own choice over one’s body without violence or force. The Government has further developed gender and development policy. The Second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) has mainstreamed gender across all key priority areas due to its critical component and has further included the interventions that aim at empowering women to participate equally with their male counterparts in politics, leadership and in work. Capacity of support institutions and law enforcement agencies to deal with gender-based violence effectively have been strengthened.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Government of Lesotho remains firmly committed to implementing the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and accelerating progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The government will continue to develop meaningful policies, laws and programmes that will combat sexual harassment, increase comprehensive healthcare, economic security by addressing the structural barriers to women that impedes their participation in the labour force.
Not only right to bodily autonomy can be realized when an individual has the power to make the decision about their bodies but also the sustainable development can be realised through advances in education for women and girls.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you all for participating in this occasion. I also wish to thank UNFPA for organising this event. I hope this report will be widely disseminated for people to know the importance of having the power to say “yes” and a right to say “no”.
On this note it is with great pleasure that I declare the 2021 State of World Population Report officially launched in Lesotho.