Senators capacitated on sexual and reproductive health rights

Senators capacitated on sexual and reproductive health rights
Senators capacitated on sexual and reproductive health rights

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The Southern African Development Community-Parliamentary Forum (SADC –PF) held a one day workshop for Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators to deliberate on HIV&AIDS Governance Project

(2019-2023). The workshop, which was also attended by SADC national parliaments, was specifically to review and

enhance Sexual and Reproductive Health Service (SRHS) and Rights. The project’s vision has been “universal access to integrated SRHS and HIV/AIDS Services and related rights, including bringing forward social change, improved

health and respect for human rights that are enjoyed by all in the SADC region”. It also reviewed the project’s performance and achievement. Lesotho SRHS Officer ‘Mammehela

Matamane informed that under the proposed project, an analysis of the prevailing legal and policy gaps has been conducted to frame the required Sexual

and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) intervention at parliamentary level. She said the thematic SRHR areas identified are, “Sexual Gender Based Violence (GBV)) and Gender

inequality, early and unintended pregnancy and safe abortions, commodity security and access to SRHR and HIV/AIDS related services in view of reinforcing health

systems and contributing to Universal Health Coverage, comprehensive sexuality education, non-discrimination and protection of key populations. Legislative,

budgetary, oversight and representative functions by MPs will continue to be framed within the five identified focus areas,” Matamane mentioned. She highlighted that the main

objective was to bring together the MPs and relevant Line ministries as well as law drafters under one roof, to work together and hold each other accountable on

SRHR related bills which were in the pipeline. She stated that the identified focus areas were counter domestic violence bill, amendment on CPWA and initiation

bill. “Covid-19 has had a great impact on access to SRHR services, particularly family planning services, HIV and AIDS and maternal, newborn and child

health. GBV in the context of Covid-19 had risen, and looking at age and stories from different districts, examples of real life stories were shared and awareness

raising campaigns on ending unsafe abortion were conducted,” she stated. She added that SADC-PF in collaboration with Southern African AIDS Information and Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS)

Lesotho held a national caucus where different stakeholders including MPs, Civil society Organisations (CSOs), young people and representation from relevant

ministries and religious leaders discussed the issue of safe abortion. According to Gender Links Country Director ‘Manteboheleng Mabetha they also conducted a campaign that is in line with the project carried

out for two years; ‘Voice and Choice, from Local Regional Action’. She said it has succeeded in galvanizing the 15 networks of the Southern African Gender

Protocol Alliance and 100 Centre of Excellence (COE) on gender in Local government on key SRHR concerns. She informed of the achievement of the project through their campaign.

“The SRHR cluster within the alliance has been strengthened by a regional and 14th national

strategy meeting that mapped 91 SRHR, 21 youth and (LGBTI) partners for the cluster. These have mounted 40 national campaigns on menstrual and maternal

health, teenage pregnancy, safe abortion, child marriages, GBV, HIV and AIDS as well as sexual diversity. Several countries have removed tax on menstrual

products or making them available in schools, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, Tanzania have reversed their positions on criminalizing teenage

pregnancy and court rulings have upheld an end to child marriages in Tanzania, Mozambique and Mauritius,” Mabetha said. Meanwhile, Ha-‘Mamathe Principal Chief Sempe Khabasheane Masopha indicated that they have their full support and requested that they should always be involved so that they are able to move motions in terms of budget.

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