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Women bask in ‘historic moment’


Billy Ntaote

Lesotho’s first female Finance Minister, Dr Mamphono Khaketla, on Friday tabled the country’s much-anticipated 2015/2016 budget.

Dr Khaketla, who presented the budget under the theme, ‘Bringing Back Hope: Restoring Good Governance Through Efficiency, Accountability, Transparency, Effectiveness and Equity’, began her speech to the 9th Parliament by acknowledging the unique position she found herself in before announcing the allocation of funding to the various ministries.

“I take pride in joining those women who have paved the way for us to be ‘firsts’ in such positions of authority  and have helped to shatter the proverbial glass-ceiling.

“Madam Speaker (Speaker of National Assembly Ms Ntlhoi Motsamai), you are one of these women and wish to applaud you for that; I wish to also mention the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Nthomeng Majara; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, among many other women who have achieved these milestones of being the first Basotho women to be in these positions,” said Dr Khaketla.

The minister also said she had joined her late mother, Dr ‘Masechele Khaketla in “making a first”, as she was the first Mosotho woman to ever obtain a bachelor’s degree.

“Let me digress a bit and say that for me, this is the continuation of a legacy that was set by my late mother, Dr ‘Masechele Khaketla, who was the first Mosotho woman to obtain a bachelor’s degree way back in 1942.

“We used to call her a ‘woman of many firsts’, because following that accomplishment, she became a trailblazer by setting several trends of being the first Mosotho woman to do this and that. I wish to assure you all that I will do this job with utmost dedication and humility, in her memory and in honour of the many Basotho women who paved the road for us,” she said.

Dr Khaketla also told parliament Basotho women were excelling in sporting codes that had been dominated by males in the past.

“Madam Speaker, on this same note, I had the privilege of watching our national soccer team, Likuena, last Saturday when they played against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the three match officials were women.  They were Madames ‘Mathabo Kolokotoane, Puleng Mahomo, and Polotso Maapara. They did a sterling job of refereeing that match.

“I said to myself, as we make inroads in our various fields, we are creating hope and motivation for a girl in remote Lesotho by saying to her, ‘If you can set your mind on doing something and work hard at it, you can achieve it”, said Dr Khaketla.

Meanwhile, Gender Links Lesotho Country Manager, Manteboheleng Mabetha, said it was pleasing to note that Basotho women were getting the recognition they deserved.

Formed in March 2001, Gender Links is a Southern African NGO, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, that promotes gender-equality and justice across the  15 countries of the region.

Speaking at Friday’s budget presentation, Ms Mabetha said Dr Khaketla’s appointment as finance minister was not only worth celebrating, but also “a step in the right direction for Lesotho, where women can now occupy crucial decision-making positions in government”.

Ms Mabetha emphasised the position of finance minister had always been occupied by males, and applauded the current coalition government, led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, for its bold statement about gender-equality, through Dr Khaketla’s appointment to such a crucial portfolio.

“This shows that our country is really committed to women-empowerment. We are happy that such a crucial undertaking of presenting the national budget was done by a female  minister for the first time in the history of Lesotho. However, we are still concerned about the female-male ratio among ministers.

“We hope this budget and those to come would be gender-responsive now that we have Dr Khaketla in the driver’s seat. We wish her well in her assignment and she should do us proud as women of Lesotho,” said Ms Mabetha.


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