Thirty women leaders from 16 African countries met in Arusha, Tanzania to strategies on how to strengthen their voices in regards to landownershipand management of natural resources in the continent. The planning meeting was held from 18th to 20th November 2015.
The meeting dabbed “Kilimanjaro Initiative” is planning to mobilise thousands of rural women to the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in October 2016, where they will develop and proclaim a charter of demands that will be presented to the Africa Union, and respective national governments.
The charter will pressure African nations to do more in giving women access to land ownership.
The journey of women to Mt. Kilimanjaro Initiative via caravans from various corners of the continent is a journey of uniting Africa rural women’s voices to assert land and natural resource rights.
The iconic assembly at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro will take place on October 15, 2016; a date that coincides with the International Rural Women’s Day and will see four regional caravans depart simultaneously from the North, South, East, West and Central Africa. There will also be a symbolic ascent to the top of the Mt. Kilimanjaro by a delegation of rural women.
This initiative is an idea that was conceived by rural women in 2012 with support from civil society organisations in a meeting held in Dar e salaam, Tanzania.[PICTURE]
Africa lags behind the rest of the world in fighting extreme poverty – estimated at 50% of its total population with 52% living in rural communities in sub Saharan Africa.
A critical mass of rural women (over 50%) provide labour (in formal and informal jobs) in the agriculture sector, believed to contribute at least 10% of GDP in low and middle income countries and as high as 34% in Rwanda.
Land issues for women in Africa remain complex partly due to dualism in land tenure system, existence of poor land policies and governance systems that entrench gender inequality. Women have weaker land rights compared to men.
As rural women prepare to usher in the new Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, their land and natural resource rights, regardless of tenure type, cannot be wished away by policy makers including respective governments, African Union and international community.
Ogranisations that are facilitating the women on the Kilimanjaro initiative includes International Land Coalition, ActionAid, Tanzania Gender Networking Program and Oxfam among others.
Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Nigeria, Malawi, Seychelles, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon. DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Togo