Basotho support women’s political leadership but oppose allowing traditional leadership role

Gender equality
Political participation

Basotho women still find it hard to attain leadership positions due to discriminatory cultural practices and laws, according to Afrobarometer’s most recent survey. Survey results also suggest women are less active than men in community and political organising.

Even though three-fourths of women say that women should have the same chance as men of being elected to political office, a majority still support the law that allows only sons to succeed to chieftaincy in Lesotho. Also the support for women’s political leadership has declined from seven in 10 (70%) in 2012 to nearly six in ten (57%) in 2014.

Women are less likely than men to participate in community meetings, join with others to raise issues, and attend campaign rallies, the May 2014 survey indicates.

The Constitution of Lesotho prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, and the Electoral Law endorses political participation by women. But gender discrimination is maintained when it comes to chieftaincy succession. The survey results suggest that gender advocacy efforts are needed to redress discrimination and legislation barring daughters from succession to traditional leadership roles.

The survey was conducted in May 2014, just after the Appeal court upheld the Constitutional Court ruling against Senate Gabasheane Masupha, the only daughter of the late Chief David Masupha who petitioned the court, among others, to declare Section 10 of the Chieftaincy Act as unconstitutional to the extent that it disentitled her to succeed to the Principal Chieftainship.

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