Dubbed the Kilimanjaro Initiative, the three-day climb of Africa’s rooftop will see women from all walks of life on the continent brave the chilly conditions and the rough terrain of the mountain’s slopes as they push for their rights.
An advocacy officer with Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Grace Kisetu, told The Guardian on the sidelines of a women’s workshop organised by ActionAid and TGNP at the weekend that the climbing of the highest mountain in Africa signaled the women’s determination towards full realisation of their rights, especially for land ownership.
“The women, who are from five zones on the continent, will battle the chilly and dizzy conditions to express their hunger for change and the cry for their rights,” she said.
According to Kisetu, the climb will also run parallel with a symposium of land rights on women, which she said would serve as an avenue to air their grievances. She also said it was an expression of having control over land as well as drawing attention to fighting violence against women and girls.
The TGNP official revealed that the marginalised women would be drawn from the southern, eastern, western, central and northern parts of the continent to scale the mountain and participate in the symposium.“This will be a big event for African women in their quest to liberate themselves,” added Kisetu.
Earlier on, an activist from Kilimanjaro Region, Jovitha Mlay, expressed her disappointment over the mistreatment of women by Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) rangers within Kilimanjaro National Park ecosystem.
Mlay alleged that the women were subjected to rape and other forms of harassment while in search of firewood.
“We want to see the sustainable development goals yielding fruitful results and this cannot be achieved when women continue being harassed by the officials,” she said.
Even though current legislation in Tanzania guarantees equal rights for both women and men to buy, own, use and transact land, many rural customs are still biased against wives, widows, sisters, daughters, divorced and separated women, limiting their ownership of and control over land.