Gender and Politics: A Note on Gender Inequality in Lesotho

The relationship between men and women is not just sexual, legal or social, but political. Therefore, any debate about gender inequality in Lesotho must encapsulate an analysis of the politics of gender, together with the processes that shape and sustain this politics. Central to such an analysis is women’s ascribed role and political participation against the backdrop of the country’s traditional forms of political representation, social institutions, political economy and the specific instruments used to maintain gender inequality. The paper focuses on three periods: precolonial, colonial and the period 1949-1970. Lesotho’s traditional forms of political participation, the ‘pitso’ (open air meetings convened by chiefs) and the ‘khotla’, were the exclusive preserve of men. The British colonial administration left Sotho customary law intact and imposed an equally gender insensitive parallel system of Roman Dutch law, as well as pursuing policies which strengthened men’s grip over their wives. Early anticolonial struggles in Lesotho did not include the fight to eliminate gender inequality. The Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), which emerged in 1952, acknowledged women as a critical factor in elections but its attitude towards women has been rather ambivalent and gender equality is not a priority. Lesotho’s other main political parties probably score even less on gender sensitivity. Bibliogr., sum. (Also published in: SAFERE, vol. 2, no. 2 (1997), p. 15-25, under the title ‘Gender and politics in Lesotho’.)

Title: Gender and Politics: A Note on Gender Inequality in Lesotho
Author: Makoa, Francis K.
Year: 1997
Periodical: Journal of Social Development in Africa (ISSN 1012-1080)
Volume: 12
Issue: 1
Pages: 5-14
Language: English
Notes: biblio. refs.
Geographic terms: Lesotho
Southern Africa
External link: http://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/African%20Journals/pdfs/social%20development/vol12no1/jsda012001002.pdf
Abstract: The relationship between men and women is not just sexual, legal or social, but political. Therefore, any debate about gender inequality in Lesotho must encapsulate an analysis of the politics of gender, together with the processes that shape and sustain this politics. Central to such an analysis is women’s ascribed role and political participation against the backdrop of the country’s traditional forms of political representation, social institutions, political economy and the specific instruments used to maintain gender inequality. The paper focuses on three periods: precolonial, colonial and the period 1949-1970. Lesotho’s traditional forms of political participation, the ‘pitso’ (open air meetings convened by chiefs) and the ‘khotla’, were the exclusive preserve of men. The British colonial administration left Sotho customary law intact and imposed an equally gender insensitive parallel system of Roman Dutch law, as well as pursuing policies which strengthened men’s grip over their wives. Early anticolonial struggles in Lesotho did not include the fight to eliminate gender inequality. The Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), which emerged in 1952, acknowledged women as a critical factor in elections but its attitude towards women has been rather ambivalent and gender equality is not a priority. Lesotho’s other main political parties probably score even less on gender sensitivity. Bibliogr., sum. (Also published in: SAFERE, vol. 2, no. 2 (1997), p. 15-25, under the title ‘Gender and politics in Lesotho’.)