Since Kenya attained independence in 1963, Kenyan women have been seeking to effectively participate alongside men in leadership and governance, yet 11 years after promulgation of the constitution, women’s representation and participation in leadership continues to be disintegrated and ignored.
Despite the setback, through institutions like NEPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat which seeks to promote the roles of women in all activities as one of its long term goal of developing Africa through various strategies, women have stood in solidarity with one another to move the agenda for equal and meaningful representation and participation in governance and decision making spaces.
The Secretariat through different programs promote the role of women in social and economic development by reinforcing their capacity through education, training on development of revenue generating activities, facilitating their access to credit and by encouraging them to participate in the political spaces in African Countries.
Below is a list of 5 formidable women who have shed light on governance after being elected into leadership positions and used their positions to lift up other women.
A) Prof. Wangari Mathai
Being the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa, Professor Wangari Mathai spent much of career fighting for gender equality, women’s rights and pioneering for green economy. This led her to establish a Pan-African Green Belt Movement (GBM) in 1977, to promote biodiversity while creating jobs for women. Additionally, GBM addressed environmental problems that are not only unique to Kenya but also the world hence the approach that GBM could be applicable to the environments in other countries. Since 1986, 36 organisations of 15 African countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have participated.
B) Hon. Charity Ngilu
The Kitui Governor, Hon. Charity Ngilu’s Journey into politics started in 1997 when she contested for presidency on the ticket of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and emerged fourth among ten candidates. In 2002 she quit SDP and registered the National Party of Kenya (NPK) which united with other opposition parties to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC)
Throughout her time in leadership, Hon. Ngilu has believed that empowering women is the key to achieving development, since women demonstrate superior leadership values. Recently, Ms. Ngilu has continuously supported women in Kitui County by challenging them to venture into small businesses like tailoring by grouping themselves and receiving loans from the county government to help them start off.
C) Chief Justice Martha Koome
Lady Justice Martha Koome made history as the first Kenyan woman to be appointed Chief Justice by President Uhuru Kenyatta following the National Assembly’s approval on 21st May 2021, her judicial career in the Court of Appeal started in 2012 when she was appointed as a Judge. In 2016, she served as Puine Judge for 8+ years and practiced law for 15 years. Lady Justice Koome has a total of thirty three years’ experience both as a legal practitioner and a Judge of the High Courts and as Judge of The Court of Appeal.
D) Dr. Joyce Laboso
The late Dr. Laboso’s political career started off when she succeeded her sister Lorna Laboso who died in a plane crash. She made history as one of the three first female governors in Kenya along with her counterparts Charity Ngilu and Anne Waiguru. All through her career, she has been a symbol of strength to all women by providing mentorship to younger generations and helping them progress in their career.
E) Hon. Martha Karua
Having served as the Member of Parliament for Gichugu for 20 years, Hon Martha Karua showed her limitless character when she declared her bid to run for Presidency in 2012. She was among the first champion of gender-balance and has been involved in advancing women’s rights through her leadership and advocacy in government. Moreover, she has always challenged women to learn to demand what is rightfully provided to them in the constitution.
F) Fatuma Dullo
In Northern-Kenya where the community widely believes that women cannot lead or even have a shot at leadership positions, Ms Fatuma Dullo went against all odds and was elected the first female senator-elect of Isiolo County. Ms. Dullo always believed that women should be highly regarded in the community and by implementing projects that sought to empower woman and youth to actively participate in decision making process. She has also spearheaded different initiatives to fight Female Genital Mutilation which is rampant in the region.
In conclusion, NEPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat believes women can overcome challenges that impede them to go for political positions and attain the two third gender rule. The Secretariat believes a country cannot benefit politically or socially without half its citizens participating fully in critical decision making. Thus, creating women empowerment initiatives and ensuring the two-thirds gender rule on all elective and appointive positions, which remains minimal in Kenya’s Parliament is achieved