DWF, in partnership with The Federation of Women’s Lawyers of Lesotho (FIDA – Lesotho), is implementing a three and half years project titled “Putting Youth and Women at the Centre of Inclusive Economic Growth (PYWEIG)”, with the financial support of the European Union Delegation in Lesotho.
This project is being implemented in the Butha Buthe, Leribe and Maseru districts, designed and benchmarked on the two priority areas:
- Supporting Civil Society Organisations in initiatives that promote youth participation and empowerment at the district and national levels
- Strengthening Women CSOs’ capacities and engagements for participation in decision-making processes.
The project’s goal is to increase Youth and Women-led participation in Lesotho’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) ecosystem.
Context and Objective
The policy focus of Lesotho, through the National Strategic Development II, is anchored on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, Strengthening Human Capital, and Strengthening National Governance and Accountability Systems (NSDP II). Yet, women and youth remain marginalised from this developmental and decision-making process. Within a generally high unemployment rate, women and youth in Lesotho experience the highest levels of unemployment (35% and 30%). The exclusion of women and youth from economic activity digresses on good governance and resilient democracy principles. It renders business development service providers unresponsive and non-functioning institutions with financial and fiscal policies which cannot contribute to economic growth and sustainable development. Participation and inclusion remain concrete pillars for promoting sustainable development and economic growth for inclusive economic growth.
To facilitate the political and economic ecosystem in which women and youth-led enterprises are represented in government decision-making, initiatives that encourage and support participation must be initiated. As part of the inception phase of the PYWIEG project, DWF and FIDA conducted a Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the three districts targeting Enterprise Support CSOs, BDS service providers, women and youth-led enterprises, Local Authorities and women and youth-led CSOs/CBOs. This initiative was to identify the priorities, needs and bottlenecks in enterprise support services and gender and legal barriers hindering participation and participatory models in the planning of the District and Community Action Plans. The study was conducted to inform the country’s design of evidenced-based advocacy and interventions. The PAR participants comprised nine hundred forty-eight (948) community members from the Butha Buthe, Leribe and Maseru Districts, represented by men and women of different age groups. Sixty-three (63) villages in the three (3) districts participated, with an attendance that included community counsellors, area chiefs, youth and women-led CSOs and enterprises.
The study has since been completed, and the report is now ready. It is against this background that DWF, in partnership with FIDA, has organised a symposium to launch the PAR study report and present the study’s findings targeting relevant stakeholders operating in the sector. The launch will also aim to raise awareness of the barriers, needs and challenges hindering women and youth-led enterprises in local and district economic activities from participating more meaningfully in policy decision-making processes.
DWF and FIDA will use this platform to identify further areas of coordination among stakeholders for their input and reflections on enterprise regulation, advice on best business development support services, gender mainstreaming and governance components to augment participation and inclusion in the enterprise ecosystem. Thus, the second half of the symposium will include a dialogue session that will feature a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities to re-energise the collective efforts of putting women and young people at the Centre of inclusive economic growth and to find locally appropriate solutions informed and inspired by the findings of the PAR study.
The Study launch and dialogue targets women and youth-led enterprises, Enterprise development-focused CSOs, Women and youth-led CSOs/CBOs, Business Development Support service providers, Government Ministries and Parastatals, Local Authorities, Private Sector and development partners.
Watch the launch video for more on the launch