Critical Steps towards the Kilimanjaro Initiative by West African Women and Youth
This month, an iconic event at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania will take place. The Kilimanjaro initiative seeks to mobilize rural women from across Africa using women’s rights to land and productive resources as an entry point to define the future they want.
The platform will give rural women space to engage with and seek accountability from decision makers at national and continental level, with a view to securing fundamental, irreversible shift and commitments on women’s land property rights. The Gambia is taking part in this important event. Activista Coordinator Muhamed Lamin Saidykhan writes that critical steps have already been taken towards the Women2Kilimanjaro event.
As we count the days to the big iconic Women2Kilimanjaro event in Tanzania, the struggle of amplifying women voices for their Land Rights continues. Rural women, Senegalese Social Forum, Activista led West Africa Caravan kicked off from the cities of Banjul in The Gambia and Dakar in Senegal to the rural areas of Nuimi in the North bank region and Brikama Ba in the Central River Region of The Gambia to Kidogu and Karang of Senegal. The Caravan team of 15 people; 7 males and 8 females met at Manda Duyan, a border village between the two countries to hit the hectic and long road to Guinea Conakry.
On the 5th July 2016, we started the journey through Gao in the early morning passing small villages and big towns along the road, vast forests, big mountains and farm lands of rural Guinea to Conakry, the capital.
After two days of a difficult but worthwhile journey, the team arrived on the 6th July, 2016 in the late evening and where we joined rural women, youth activists, CSO’s and other players from Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso , Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Benin, Niger, The Gambia and Senegal for the 5th West Africa Social Forum .
In this forum different issues were discussed but our Kilimanjaro side event on Women and Youth Land Rights was among the most engaging and impactful issues occupying the thoughts and minds of the forum participants.
Before the side event our Activistas were involved in a creative photo action with key messages of women and youth land rights and collected a petition with the wider forum participants.
Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan of Activista/ ActionAid International The Gambia and Aissata Jah of ActionAid Senegal spoke to the participants at the side event the: Women2 Kilimanjaro initiativediscussing what, why and how the event will be organized. The rural women then took center stage giving testimonies on the injustices they and other women face in respect to their land rights for food production to feed families. The testimony presentations were so emotional that everyone had tears in their eyes, the rural women presenting and people at the event.
They called for “land reforms and respect for their land rights as they feed about 80% of household and yet own only 1% of the land”.
Sofi a young female Activista volunteer from Senegal read the draft West Africa Women Land Rights Charter so that it can be adopted. Everyone without hesitancy unanimously adopted the charter by show of hands and signed the petition banner.
A rural woman from The Gambia Fatou Tarawally said “the Adoption of the charter is a good step but more work is needed to move the demands on it to our leaders for action”.
At the end of the Forum, our Caravan team was overwhelmed with promises by participants of their solidarity support in the struggle to seeing an end to the injustices of women land rights.