Youth Perspectives on Human Rights, Mats’eliso Mots’oane’s Speech: UN Day Lesotho 2018

Excerpt of Speech by Mats'eliso Mots'oane - UN Youth Advisory Panel Representative

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Mats'eliso Mots'oane
Mats'eliso Mots'oane

Our world is getting so much smaller because of the social media age which makes information and resources so easily accessible to us. It has also made the world smaller in that we can now witness for ourselves the human rights atrocities and violations experienced by our brothers and sisters all over the world.

Seeing these things and hearing them every day, should be enough to move all of us to action. Our human compassion should force us to look at these stories not just as another news headline but as injustices that are experienced by people who are not very different from us.

In light of these issues, which seem to also be affecting our nation, I want to make an appeal to young people on this day. We know and understand more than anyone the massive lobbying power we possess as a result of social media and the internet. We need to use these tools along with our endless potential to create and innovate, in order to better the lives of our people and ourselves.

If we align ourselves with the human rights declaration, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year it is plain to see that Lesotho still has a long way when it comes to enforcing and observing the human rights of its people.

 

On the issue of rape culture and gender non-equality

The bodies of women and children, any body either than our own are not for the appeasement or consumption of others!

The stories of domestic abuse, and rape again, are not just headlines in the news they are the experiences of women like me and you.

By virtue of being a young woman in this country I feel compelled to fight these human rights violations, and I appeal to everyone in the audience today to heed this call for action and solidarity against gender based violence and rape culture. The country needs to observe each and every recommendation made to us by the global community, and while we have made great strides in empowering women  in the workplace and through education as shown in the millennium goals development report, we still need to remedy the issue of rape and abuse, especially that of girl children.

Little girls should not be socialized to believe that their bodies are commodities, instruments of reproduction and pleasure. We can no longer hide behind the guises of tradition or religion when dealing with the over sexualisation of the female body. Nor can we hide behind the same guises when confronted with Lesotho’s issue of child marriage.

Mental Health

Perhaps the most ravaging result of being poor, violated, or being discriminated against is the effect of these things on our mental health.

If we continue to trivialise behavioural changes in our loved ones, and dismiss blatant cries for help we are enabling this epidemic to spread. We are allowing our loved ones to suffer alone. We need our healthcare structures to pay more attention to the minds of its people. Our parents are miserable in their minimum wage jobs, young people are miserable at the idea of joblessness. Human beings are complex but we are not unbreakable, and we need to stop harbouring mental instability by romanticizing silence as strength.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we hope to see it become a priority to our health care structures in the country.

To solve these issues and rid our country of hunger, disease, and violence we need to transcend the institutional and political barriers that continuously tell young black youths that our ideas, voices and stories are invalid.

We need to transcend whatever circumstances that make it difficult to speak or act.

Now, when rape cases are stacked one on top of the other, each case more unbelievable than the last. Now, when families still fight to put the next meal on their tables. When young minds go to waste because of a stifled higher educational system, and uniquely beautiful and gifted human beings are marginalised, violated and belittled for not fitting into the social constructs on sexuality, now is the time when we should look these challenges in the eye, and tell them that we are here to put up a fight. I believe the youth is the ever flowing river between a bitter past and a prosperous future.

And we need to dedicate ourselves, our time and skills to quenching our country’s thirst for healing, empowerment, innovation and development. To making it a humane and kind place to live in for everyone.

On behalf of young people in this country I thank the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation for always giving us the platform to be incite positive change in Lesotho. I will leave you with this:  “we must strive every day so that this love for living humanity is transformed into actual deeds , into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.” – Che Guevara.

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