French Ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi, H.E. Aurélien Lechevallier, presented the Special Mention of the of 2021 Human Right Prize of French Republic to the Federation of Women Lawyers Lesotho (FIDA Lesotho) on 29 March 2022, at the Alliance française of Maseru, Lesotho.
The Federation of Women Lawyers of Lesotho (FIDA – Lesotho) is a leading organisation for women’s and children’s rights in Lesotho. Its main mandates are to educate, advocate to government, provide legal advice to individuals and empower women to be self-reliant and to take action for themselves. I was awarded the prize for the project “Unite Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Textile Women”. It aims at empowering women working in textile factories in Lesotho, whose vulnerability has increased considerably, to protect themselves against human trafficking and sexual violence.
Receiving the prize on behalf of the organisation, Chairperson Advocate. Lindiwe Sephomolo said she is welcomes the recognition of their often unseen work, adding that the award is going to contribute toward FIDA Lesotho’s institutional performance.
She further stated that during the past two years they have been fighting against two pandemics, which are COVID-19 and violence against women and children. She said that women have been trafficked during this time of COVID-19 being promised jobs but later being sold as sex slaves.
FIDA Lesotho is raising awareness on gender based violence (GBV) amongst communities and building capacity within community policing groups. Adv. Sephomolo took this opportunity to call again for the long-awaited Counter Domestic Violence Bill, which was tabled in Parliament in 2021, to be became law.
Her speech was followed by a poignant poetry performance praising FIDA Lesotho’s relentless dedication to advancing the rights and agency of women in Lesotho, and gender equality.
The ceremony was attended by several officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Police, which FIDA Lesotho works closely with. Mr Raboletsi Tumelo, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, commended the work of the organisation, and presented on the commitment of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Police to tackle trafficking in persons. Indeed many Basotho people are lured into exploitation in other countries by fake employment promises.
Also in attendance were a number of civil society representatives as well as the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lesotho, H.E. Paola Amadei.