Friday, August 15, 2014

Young African Woman of Note: Lerato Ramaili Ramaholi, Lesotho

Lerato Ramaili Ramaholi

The optimist

I met Lerato in September of 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was with a group of young activists who were on a leadership training course. We met for dinner along with activists from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia to discuss the One Billion Rising for Justice campaign. We only had a little over an hour together, but Lerato was one of the activists who would hunt me down incessantly to ask me to explain the vision of the campaign to her so that she could bring it into her community.


 Lerato is a young women’s rights activist from Lesotho. She graduated from the National University of Lesotho in 2011 where she received her Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB).

 Her passion to become an activist began in 2009 when she studied Gender and Law. In her final year of LLB, she wrote a dissertation on the topic, “A Critical Appraisal of the Gender and Development Policy 2003 in the Context of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in the Lesotho Labour Market.” It was through this work that she was able to scrutinize various laws and policies existent in the country to determine whether or not they accommodate working women. The research was prompted by the realization that women unlike their male counterparts have different needs caused by their gender and sex roles. For example; the burden of family responsibilities caused by gender and maternity due to their sex. She then discovered that the laws and policies continue to discriminate against women thereby denying them equal opportunities in the work environment. She took this as a challenge for her to engage in advocacy and lobbying for the laws and policies that favour women politically, socially and economically. 

In 2013 Lerato volunteered at Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust where she worked as a Legal Pogrammes Officer and a Lawyer for a year. This organisation is the only feminist organisation in the country ran by women. She gained experience in advocacy and lobbying strategies and worked very closely with women in the communities.  She had the opportunity to attend a number of trainings such as the National Feminism course and the Train the Trainer workshop on Feminism and Organizational Development by OSISA.
In 2014, she became a director and a co-founder of a young women and girl’s organisation called Development and Leadership Centre which seeks to empower young women in every manner possible with emphasis on economic and sexual abuse. The founding of this organization was inspired by the realization that there was a need to create a place where young women could go to get assistance when faced with violence and where they could be supported. The organization, though young is dedicated to supporting victims of violence and to ensure that justice is served until the scourge of violence against women ends.
In February this year she coordinated a one Billion Rising for Justice event for young women of Lesotho and came to realize that there is a lot to do. The testimonies shared that day revealed that rape is prevalent amongst young women in Lesotho.

 In May this year she facilitated on the countrywide feminism forum in Lesotho which was intended to increase feminist leadership in young women and girls in the communities. Through her organization, she coordinated the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Lesotho.

Lerato is an amazing young woman who is so passionate about ending violence against women that at 7/8 months pregnant she would walk all over her community doing outreach and door to door activism, educating young women about their rights.  She is determined to see young women and girls assuming leadership roles, contributing to and benefiting equally in the development of her country and African continent.
Thank you for all your amazing work Lerato. You are a true leader and your passion for mentorship and educating young women is what we need for a better, safer future where women and girls thrive. Despite the hardships you continue to do this important work never complaining and always with enthusiasm. You truly are your sisters' keeper. This blog is my humble salute to you mama Victor!

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