Source: the Zimbabwean
"So is our fight for emancipation as women, it might be long and painful, but we will get there."

"I am excited to be chosen as a candidate for mountain climbing in a campaign to end violence against women," says 31-year-old Captain Monica Nyamudeza, clad in her military uniform.

"I encourage women in Africa, and specifically women in Zimbabwe to stand up and fight violence against women and girls.

"Without our personal involvement in this fight, no one will do it for us."

These are two of the three Zimbabwean mountain climbers who will be repreesenting the country at the Africa Unite Global Campaign to try and end all forms of violence against women and girls.

Africa Unite is the regional component of the United Nations Secretary General's worldwide campaign an initiative and a continent wide partnership to try and end violence against women.

Three Zimbabweans will participate in the mountain climbing event to try and conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, which is the highest mountain in Africa.

The Zimbabweans will try to reach the roof top of the African continent, to coincide with International Women's Day.

The climb will symbolically raise women's voice to the highest peak in Africa, otherwise known as the "Dark Continent".

Violence against women is a serious concern on the continent, as well as in Zimbabwe.

Women suffer daily the effects of domestic, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in the country.

Recent studies from the region show that between 16 percent and 47 percent of girls in primary or secondary school report sexual abuse or harrassment from male teachers or classmates, and more than three million girls in Africa are at risk of female genital mutilation.

"We must stop this violence against women once and for all," said Jessie Majome, Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

"Even men are affected by abuse and they also must be told to stop abusing their wives at home or at work. We are very worried about the abuse of women through violence in Zimbabwe."

Aiming to raise awareness and demosntrate comittment, the three Zimbabweans climbers, who also include Retired Major General G K Mashingaidze (61), depart for Tanzania on March 1.

"The main objective of the trip is to raise global awareness on ending violence against women and girls in Africa and to renew national comitments to combat the same by all African governments by 2015,' said Hodan Addou, United Nations Women Country Representative based in Harare.

"All African countries have been invited to be present at the historical event."

The climb will take place from March 5 to 9 to symbolically coinicide with the International Women's Day on march 8, and will involve a series of activities and events.

There will be at least one participant from each of the 54 African countries inlcuding celebrities, members of civil society, private and public sectors and the Media.

"Without our personal involvement in this fight, no one will do it for us," said Nyamudeza, who has done several mountain climbs at Inyangani Mountain, the highest mountain in Zimbabwe.

She also has vast experince in up-sailing.

"Let us all be strong and work with men for peaceful homes and peaceful nations."

Her counterpart, Ncube said: "It is painful when women are discriminated against, abused and killed on the basis of their gender.

"Let us stand our ground as women to fight violence and all forms of discrimination against us. My message as I climb the mountain will be - 'There is nothing men can do that women cannot do!'"

Ncube has also climbed Mount Inyangani several times, and has experince in up-sailing.

Mashingaidze, their coach and instructor, said he was happy to have been taken out of retirement to train the two ladies.

"I am still strong as you can see," he said in Harare.

"At 61 I am still very strong and have been up Mount Kilimanjaro five times during my stint in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

"We now live in a global village where individualism does not count.

"We need to hold hands with women for gender equality."

He joined the Kilimanjaro Climbing Club in 1988 nd 1989 where he climbed to Uhuru, the peak of Mount kilimanjaro whose altitude is 5 895 km.

The dormant volcano at Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in the National Park of Tanzania and provides the climbers with the biggest area view on its surroundings.

Each of the climbers from Zimbabwe will carry a specific message to raise awareness on violence against women symbolically to the highest point in Africa, to demsonstarte the priority they are giving and Zimbabwe is giving to end violence against women.

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