As the world celebrated the International Women's Day on 8th March 2012, all roads in Burundi were leading up to the summit of Mount Heha, the highest altitude in Burundi. ACORD together with women's rights organisations, the United Nations, the Ministry of National Solidarity and Gender, the diplomatic community, sports fraternity and other stakeholders including thousands of supporters and well-wishers, demonstrated the real power of action by scaling the 2,670m mountain situated in Mukike region in Bujumbura Rural.
The mountain climbing activity, dubbed ku-giti c'inzara in the local Kirundi language, was aimed at sending a strong message against impunity for sexual and gender based violence, a social virus eating away at social justice and the rights of women and girls in Burundi. Draped in a large t-shirt bearing the logo of the "we can" campaign, one ‘pilgrim' on his way up the mountain had this to say: "I am mentally and physically prepared for the climbing task. I will take a photo once high up at the summit. This is a noble and worthwhile cause!"
5,000 Members from Six Provinces Registered
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Burundi, Ms. Soline Coulibaly, encouraged the participants and reiterated the support of her organisation to local efforts aimed at addressing violence against women and girls.
"We have already registered about 5,000 members in six provinces and 47 communes located in Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura rural, Makamba, Kirundo, Bubanza and Cankuzo. We are happy to realise that more and more people are getting involved, which makes us hope for even more commitment from the change-makers", explained Alice Harushimana of ACORD.
The partners involved in the campaign to end violence against women have ratified their commitment in writing. There has also been an increase in participation from men and women thanks to the positive change in mentalities surrounding violence against women. Even more encouraging is participation by national government authorities and other women's rights champions including the UN, local and regional civil society organisations.