The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Bikers in Anti-Gender Based Violence Crusade

At least 19 South African motor bikers on Monday evening rode into Harare from Malawi on a crusade to nine Southern African countries against gender based violence. Riding under the theme "Ride on - Speak Out," the riders calling themselves Men as Agents for Change started their journey in Johannesburg on November 24. Their journey has taken them through Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi.

From Zimbabwe, they would proceed to Mozambique, Swaziland and then Lesotho. The United Nations and men's forum on gender, Padare/Enkundleni, hosted the bikers.

Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Dr Olivia Muchena said at a Press conference attended by the bikers that Zimbabweans should emulate their move.

"These are great men of quality who are not afraid of equality and undertaking this journey across Southern Africa as a campaign to end violence against women," she said.

Minister Muchena said the bikers' move was made in an effort to campaign in the Sadc region to end gender based violence.

"This 'Ride on -- Speak Out" campaign comes as part of a UN calendar event, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, from November 25 to December 10 each year," said Dr Muchena.

Leader of the bikers Mr Johann Rawlinson -- a Johannesburg-based businessman said it was time for men to say no to violence against women.

He said the idea to ride through the Southern African country was born in March after gender-based violence awareness through the climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro that was dubbed "Climb up -- Speak Out."

United Nations country humanitarian co-ordinator Mr Basilia Tambasha said the end of gender-based violence should be a global vision.

"We also hail the Zimbabwe Government for ratifying key UN Conventions, African Union and Sadc Protocols against GBV," said Mr Tambasha.

"The UN will remain committed to supporting the Government's initiatives after the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act and establishment of the Anti-domestic Violence Council."

Padare-Enkundleni national chairman Mr Jonah Gokova said they would be mobilising for a similar countrywide motor bike campaign. He expressed gratitude to some local riders who welcomed the bikers at Nyamapanda.

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