A group of African women, many from marginalized communities, are set to climb Africa’s highest mountain in order to raise awareness for women’s rights to own and inherit land on the continent. According to TakePart, the symbolic climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, which was organized by Action Aid, is expected to put pressure on African governments to develop laws that will help address longstanding injustices against women owning land.
Action Aid’s tweet on October 5th promoting the #Women2Kilimanjaro campaign:
— Activista Tanzania (@ActivistaTz) October 5, 2016
Since colonial times, land ownership in many African communities has been a contentious subject, with many traditions preventing women from owning or inheriting land, even though women are responsible for 80 percent of agricultural production in Africa. In fact, in sub-Saharan Africa, only 1 percent of the land is owned by women, according to TakePart.
Many women who have lost their husbands are left without a place to live or farm since most custom laws require the land to be given back to their in-laws.
In an editorial, the Director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation Layla Al-Zubaidi wrote, “Land is not only a source of food, employment, and income, it also gives social prestige and access to political power. Land has long been recognized as key to advancing the socio-economic rights and well-being of women and their position in society.”
The ascent to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is expected to challenge the status quo, as African women strive to scale ancient mountains of injustice and discrimination.
The trek has attracted participants from all over the world, with 15 “solidarity climbers” from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Canada expected to take part.
Around 2,000 women are expected to converge at the base of the mountain on October 14th, where they will hold a meeting and draft a charter of demands concerning women’s access to and ownership of land and resources.
They will then present the charter to the United Nations, the African Union, and the African Rural Women Assembly for implementation.