“Climb up – Speak Out” on International Women's Day
It’s a cool morning in Nairobi as I arrive at Uhuru Park, the starting point of the “Climb up – Speak Out” walk to mark International Women’s Day 2012.
This venue has been the site of some of the fiercest battles for civil and human rights fought in Kenya, including the late Nobel laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai’s fight to preserve the park.
The walk, which was organized by a number of civil society organizations and is part of the UN Campaign to stop gender based violence, brings together survivors of gender-based violence and their supporters from all over Kenya.
There is a festive mood in the air. The walkers are warming up with songs and dance as we await the commencement of the procession.
I meet many representatives of partner organizations, including nurses from the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), who are here with a number of survivors of gender-based violence who have received treatment and psychosocial support at the KNH gender violence recovery center.
The walk is flagged off by Hon. Fred Gumo, the Minister in charge of Regional Development. He lauds the organizers for their efforts in highlighting the important issue of gender-based violence. He pledges that he will use every forum available to him to highlight this issue during the upcoming elections.
He waves the flag of Kenya and flags off the race. The race commences with a marching band leading the way.
There is great enthusiasm amongst the walkers as they tackle the hill. Police are on hand to stop traffic. Motorists and pedestrians gaze with interest at the banners being held aloft by the walkers.
The feeling of solidarity is strong as both men and women participate in the walk.
As we walk for justice, 52 women from each country in Africa, representing all the women of Africa who are striving to say no to violence, will also climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Ann Njogu represents Kenya in the climb. Ann is the Chairperson of the Center for Rights, Education, and Awareness (CREAW). She was a recipient of the 2010 International Women of Courage Award given by the US Department of State to 10 outstanding women leaders worldwide in recognition of courage and leadership in the struggle for social justice and human rights.
She and the other women leaders are scaling the challenging Mt. Kilimanjaro as we walk in solidarity with them in Nairobi.
As our journey concludes, triumph is in the air as the participants disperse, each possibly rejuvenated and inspired to do what they can, within their sphere of influence, to finally put an end to gender-based violence.