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11/2016. Kilimanjaro initiative: rural women from across Africa demand for their rights to land

BY MARILYN KABALERE, Advocacy Officer

With 2016 declared by the 26th African Union Summit as “Africa Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of women”, coupled with the transition from the MDGs into SDGs, the quest for actualization of Women Rights to land and natural resources towards a food and nutritional secure continent could have never been timelier. Also noting that in October 2015, the AU Special Technical Committee on Agriculture, water and environment recommended that member states allocate at least 30% of land to women; improve land rights of women through legislative/other mechanisms, in order to give practical effect to the AU declaration on Land in which all African states committed to ensure equitable access to land for all land users and strengthen women’s land rights.

Based on this therefore African women gathered in Tanzania to demand for their rights to land in what was termed as the Kirimanjaro Initiative. This initiative was conceived during a meeting of rural women and civil society organizations in 2012, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It aims at creating space for rural women to participate in decision making processes about land and natural resources.

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The women organized different caravans across Africa and met in Tanzania at MCDC where they came up with clear demands on women’s land rights. During the same event women met at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro to welcome the 30 women heroines that had climbed the mountain to show that women can overcome  struggles towards ownership and access to land in Africa.

To crown the event the women proclaimed a charter of principles and demands specifically on women’s access to, control, own, inherit and dispose their land and natural resources on 16th October 2016.

Having been part of this initiative at a continental level, there will be follow-up work to engage with regional institutions – EALA, SADC, COMESA, and later national level groups so that these demands are institutionalized and implemented as a realization that indeed women’s voices were heard during the Kilimanjaro Initiative.

The event was attended by over 400 women comprising of: women farmers, women groups, women entrepreneurs and activists from 22 countries from the Eastern, Central, Western, Northern and Southern Africa. Countries that participated included; Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Chad, Uganda, and Zambia. Uganda was represented by Actionaid, Oxfam, PELUM Uganda and grassroot women and farmers.

Singing and dancing to the Kirimanjaro theme song

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Ugandan representatives to the event included a PELUM Uganda staff (2nd left)

During the event, women sung and danced to the Kirimanjaro theme song written by Odelia Koroma, an activist from Siera Leone. (chorus is below)

 Chorus:

 

Kilimanjaro….. Kilimanjaro ……..

We gonna match up there ………. We gonna match up there……….

Let our Voices be heard…. Let our demands be known….

That our Land is our life……  Our Land is our life………

 

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