Abdoulai G. Dibba
In October 2016, an iconic event will take place at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, known as the Kilimanjaro initiative. This was disclosed by Muhammad Lamin Saidykhan, the Coordinator of Activista.
According to him, the Kilimanjaro initiative seeks to mobilise rural women from across Africa using women’s rights to land and productive resources as an entry point to define the future they want and that 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 rights.
Activista Coordinator told Foroyaa that the Gambia is taking part in this important event and that critical steps have already been taken regarding the status of women ahead of the Kilimanjaro event.
“As we count the days to the big iconic Women to Kilimanjaro event in Tanzania, the struggle of amplifying women voices on their Land Rights continues; Rural Women, Senegalese Social Forum, Activista led West Africa Caravan kicked off from the cities of Banjul – The Gambia and Dakar- Senegal to the rural areas of Nuimi in the North bank region and Brikamaba in the Central River Region of The Gambia to Kidogu and Karang of Senegal,” disclosed Mr. Saidykhan.
He further revealed that the Caravan team of 15 people, comprising 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 5 July 2016, he said, they started the journey through Gao in the early morning hours 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 difficult but worthwhile journey, continued Saidykhan, the team arrived on the 6 July, 2016 in the late evening where they joined rural women, youth activists, CSO’s and other players from Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso , Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Benin, Niger, The Gambia and Senegal in the 5th West Africa Social Forum.
He said different issues were discussed in this forum, adding that their Kilimanjaro side event on Women and Youth Land Rights was amongst the most engaging and impactful issues occupying the thoughts and minds of the forum participants.
Before the side event, he said, Activista did creative photo action with key messages on women and youth land rights and petition collection with the participants.
Mr. Saidykhan indicated that he and Aissata Jah of ActionAid International- Senegal spoke to the gathering on the Women to Kilimanjaro initiative, discussing the what, why and how the event will be organised. After the speeches, he added, 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.
Their testimonies, he said, centered on the need for “land reforms and respect for their land rights as they feed about 80% of households and yet own only 1% of the land”.
Mr. Saidykhan said Sophie, a young female Activista volunteer from Senegal, read out the draft West Africa Women Land Rights Charter for adoption and that the gathering without hesitation unanimously adopted the Charter by show of hands and then signed the Petition Banner.
He also noted that Fatou Tarawally, a women from rural Gambia, indicated that the Adoption of the Charter is a good step but more work is needed to move the demands to their leaders for action.
Saidykhan concluded that at the end of the Forum, their Caravan team was highly appreciated with promises by participants of their solidarity support in the struggle to seeing an end to the injustices relating to women land rights.