President Kikwete launches campaign against cruelty and violence against women

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete with the Minister for Community Development Gender and Children, Sophia M. Simba, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. John Hendra, First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete and the Regional Commissioner of Kilimanjaro Region Leonidas Gama join 90 gallant men and women from 36 African countries who are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with the objective of drawing attention to the important issue of fighting violence against women and girls.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete with the Minister for Community Development Gender and Children, Sophia M. Simba, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. John Hendra,flag off the climb.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete speaks at the launch of the climb at the Kilimanjaro National Parks Marangu gate.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete presents General Mirisho Sam Hagai Sarakikya, the country’s top climber who at 78 years of age has scaled to the roof of Africa 38 times and plans to make his final climb when he turns 80.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete with young climbers from Botswana.PHOTOS BY STATE HOUSE

OPENING SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY DK. JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA DURING THE FLAGGING OFF CEREMONY FOR “CLIMB UP –SPEAK OUT” MOUNT KILIMANJARO CLIMB TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS ON 5TH MARCH, 2012

AT MARANGU, KILIMANJARO REGION, TANZANIA

Honorable Minister for Community Development Gender and Children, Sophia M. Simba (MP);

Mr. John Hendra, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations;

Leonidas Gama, Regional Commissioner of Kilimanjaro Region

Members of the Diplomatic Corps Present;

All Climbers; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Introduction

I thank you Honourable Minister for your kind invitation and for affording me this rare privilege to see off 90 gallant men and women from 36 African countries who are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with the objective of drawing attention to the important issue of fighting violence against women and girls. I welcome you all to Marangu and for those who come from outside Tanzania welcome to your other home away from home. I wish you a successful climb and I pray that all of you will reach the summit and feel the sense of conquest and accomplishment when you are on roof of Africa.

On behalf of the people and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, I thank the organisers for availing our country, this great honour of hosting this memorable event, the Africa UNITE Climb to End Violence against Women and Girls which will start shortly. Allow me also to take this opportunity to commend the United Nations’ Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon for conceiving the Africa UNiTE Campaign. Tanzania strongly supports the Secretary General’s Campaign on “Say No – UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls”.

The fact that 36 African countries are represented at this event today signifies Africa’s commitment to ending violence against women and girls in our continent. I was personally pleased to launch the Tanzanian chapter of this Campaign on the 24th May 2008. I am even comforted to see that the campaign has taken a life of its own in Africa and is indeed highlighting in unprecedented ways the problem of gender based violence.

Impact of Violence against Women

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Violence against women is pervasive scourge which has been with us for ages. It knows no color, creed, age, status or nation. It’s in every country. What brought us here is the fact that we should not allow this cruel and worthless scourge to continue. Now is the time to intensify efforts to fight it. It does no good to women other than pain and suffering both physically and emotionally. It is a violation of women’s rights of a very high degree. It demeans their personality and humanity.

It prevents women from enjoying life and above all their fundamental rights and freedoms. It further prevents them from realizing their fullest potentials and possible contributions and benefiting equitably from development of their families and societies. In many ways violence against women retards their efforts for personal advancement and impedes efforts towards poverty reduction because women’s potential is not utilized optimally.

According to WHO -up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and wars combined. In Sub-Saharan Africa, between 13 per cent and 45 per cent of women suffer assault by their intimate partners during their lifetime and as we speak over 3 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Violence against women is undermining our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. We know for a fact that some African countries will not achieve the MDGs that have key indicators on gender matters and others partly because of gender based violence. The objective of reducing poverty, ending hunger, deprivation and promoting socio-economic development for all peoples on all continents will not be realized if violence against women and girls continues. The gender related MDG include MDG 2, on access to universal primary education; MDG 3 on promoting gender equality and empowering women and MDG 5 on reducing maternal mortality.

We cannot achieve our objectives if young girls are being abducted on their way to or from school. If in many of our countries, girls are forcefully married off at a very tender age, putting them at risk of getting pregnancy at too young an age and at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Shamefully there are over 14.1 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa who are child brides, married before the age of 18.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Violence against women and girls is a daily occurrence, it takes place during times of peace in the confines of homes, in the streets, in the bushes and everywhere. It is exacerbated during conflict where rape becomes a weapon of war. It affects women of all ages: children, teenagers, adults and elders. Nobody is spared. It is not uncommon these days to hear reports of elderly men have defiled girls under 10 years old, or young men being incarcerated for having abused elderly women who are their mothers or even grandmothers. This is not only an expression of moral decadence of the highest order happening in our societies, it is, also, cruel, inhumane and above all criminal. It therefore, deserves our unequivocal condemnation and calls for concerted efforts to end this diabolic behaviours and actions. We cannot swallow our pride.

Measures to Address Violence against Women

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am pleased to note that while the situation may look challenging, but it’s not hopeless. African Heads of State and Government have taken a positive stand. Firstly, we enshrined in Article 4 (L) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union the inclusion of the gender parity principle. This provides for a moral obligation for all Member States to enshrine this principle in their national constitutions, legislations and socio-economic development policies and programmes.

I want to assure you that Tanzania remains committed to the pursuit of gender parity and fighting violence against women. We will not falter in this endeavour. I am ready to work with my colleagues in other countries to promote this noble cause in the African continent.

Secondly, we have the ground breaking Protocol on African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The Protocol was adopted by the African Union on 11 July 2003 at its second summit in Maputo, Mozambique. On 25 November 2005, having been ratified by the required 15 Member States of the African Union, the Protocol entered into force. As of July 2010, a total of 28 Member States had ratified and deposited the instruments of ratification with the AU Commission. Today the Protocol is used as an important tool for holding Governments accountable on the commitments we have made.

Thirdly, we also have the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. As you know there are many other such instruments. In addition to these instruments, we also have various mechanisms that have been instituted to ensure that these frameworks are implemented. These are important frameworks that were adopted to facilitate actions to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls and to provide for effective and adequate services to survivors.

Actions to address Gender based Violence

Ladies and Gentlemen;

We know that policies and legal instruments mean very little without commensurate implementation measures and actions. Governments have to walk the talk. We must ensure that our actions speak louder than words. It is required of us to adequately reflect on our national plans, programmes and budget measures to promote gender parity and fight against gender based violence.

The Africa UNiTE Campaign to End Violence against Women and Girls provides an important opportunity to galvanize us all into action to implement the frameworks and instruments I have referred to above. 

It provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in innovative sustained actions to prevent, prosecute, punish and provide effective responses to violence against women and girls. It invigorates us to renew our commitments, to mobilize more strongly not only the Government entities but also the private sector, civil society, community based organizations, men and our traditional leadership structures and decision makers.

Indeed, the Campaign has placed the United Nations system at the center of such efforts. We look forward to engaging further with the United Nations in the country on how we can strengthen our national response. We want to ensure that we have a comprehensive response package to fighting gender based violence in the country. We want to report, in 2015, that indeed we have met the targets set out in the SADC Gender and Development Protocol. We look forward to both the technical and financial support to achieve this.

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I know most of you are now ready to start the climbing of Mt Kilimanjaro, therefore let me not delay you any further with a long speech. We wish you well and we hope that you will all reach the Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro and in Africa. With these remarks, I formally declare the Africa UNITE Climb to End Violence against Women and Girls officially launched.

Thank you for your attention and best of luck!

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