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 InternationalWomen’s Day 2012.
This venue has been the site of some of the fiercest battlesfor 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 societyorganizations and is part of the UN Campaign to stop gender based violence, bringstogether survivors of gender-based violence and their supporters from all overKenya.
There is a festive mood in the air. The walkers are warmingup 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 anumber of survivors of gender-based violence who have received treatment andpsychosocial support at the KNH gender violence recovery center.
The walk is flagged off by Hon. Fred Gumo, the Minister incharge of Regional Development. He lauds the organizers for their efforts inhighlighting the important issue of gender-based violence. He pledges that hewill use every forum available to him to highlight this issue during theupcoming elections.
He waves the flag of Kenya and flags off the race. The racecommences with a marching band leading the way.
There is great enthusiasm amongst the walkers as they tacklethe hill. Police are on hand to stop traffic. Motorists and pedestrians gazewith interest at the banners being held aloft by the walkers.
The feeling of solidarity is strong as both men and womenparticipate in the walk.
As we walk for justice, 52 women from each country inAfrica, representing all the women of Africa who are striving to say no toviolence, will also climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Ann Njogu represents Kenya in the climb. Ann is the Chairpersonof the Center for Rights, Education, and Awareness (CREAW). She was a recipientof the 2010 International Women of Courage Award given by the US Department ofState to 10 outstanding women leaders worldwide in recognition of courage andleadership in the struggle for social justice and human rights.
She and the other women leaders are scaling the challengingMt. Kilimanjaro as we walk in solidarity with them in Nairobi.
As our journey concludes, triumph is in the air as theparticipants disperse, each possibly rejuvenated and inspired to do what theycan, within their sphere of influence, to finally put an end to gender-basedviolence.