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Statement by Dr Marc Derveeuw UNFPA Representative to Lesotho

"As we commemorate International Women’s Day (March 8) this year, we do so under the theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Basotho women are not an exception.

We recognize the achievements of women in Lesotho especially women in the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis such as health care workers, caregivers, community organizers and many other women in different facets of life in Lesotho as the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic.

For us at UNFPA, expanding possibilities for women and girls to lead healthy and productive lives is at the heart of our mandate. Our work involves promoting women's health care and advocating for gender equality. We are committed to ensuring that policy, legal and accountability frameworks are strengthened to advance gender equality and empowerment of women and young people, especially adolescent girls, to exercise their reproductive rights and to be protected from violence and harmful practices.

Commemorating this year’s International Women’s Day therefore, we further pledge our commitment to working with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and all our partners, including young activists and change-makers, to dismantle the barriers standing between women and girls and their rights and choices.  We will continue working towards prevention of unintended pregnancies, providing lifesaving reproductive health services to women and young people as well as vital services needed by survivors of gender-based violence. We will continue with our efforts to ensure that high-quality data and evidence is obtained to ensure that no one is left behind.

We call for implementation of commitments made at the Nairobi Summit on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) over a year ago, aimed at ensuring elimination of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls, in order to realise all their full socio-economic potential.  It is incumbent upon all of us to eliminate obstacles that stand in the way of women’s voices, choices, consent and equality."