Saluting women who have dared to make a difference

Saluting women who have dared to make a difference
Director of Investment at Omidyar Network Ory Okolloh (right), Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s wife, Zahra (centre) and KQ’s Captain Irene Koki Mutungi at Lord Errol in Nairobi. [Photo: Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
By Abigael Sum

Nairobi, Kenya: When a trend-setting social media expert and top-notch pilot meet under the same roof, the atmosphere can be quite electric.

This is what happened on Wednesday night at Lord Errol in Runda when two world-famous Kenyan achievers, Ory Okolloh and Captain Koki Mutungi were honoured during a special ceremony.

The ceremony was organised by a group of friends led by Zahra Moi, Gladys Shollei, Lorna Irungu, Carol Mutoko and Zipporah Kittony to celebrate Okolloh and Mutungi’s successes, which have also put Kenya on the world map.

Others who graced the occasion were Honorine Kiplagat, Evelyne Mungai as well as other public figures including Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Standard Group CEO Sam Shollei.

Okolloh, who is based in South Africa, grabbed the world’s attention when she established Ushahidi– a website that combines mapping with eyewitness reports used to monitor elections in Kenya.

Her method was later replicated in other parts of the world such as Mexico, India, Congo and Haiti (when it was devastated by an earthquake).

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Her exploits have since earned her recognition by Time, which has listed her as one of the world’s 100 most influential people describing her as the activist “who helps Africans exercise their power”.

She was mentioned in the same breath with other influential global leaders such as Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

Role models

Time 100 recognises the activism, innovation and achievements of the world’s 100 most influential people. Mutungi has also been immortalised as the first Kenyan female pilot who captained Kenya Airways aircraft for six years before any other woman joined her in the rarified airs of aviation.

When the history of aviation is written, Mutungi will deserve special mention for she captained Boeing 767-300R, the second largest aircraft in Kenya Airway’s fleet.

While celebrating these rare feats Zahra said, “It is an honour to celebrate and recognise these two formidable women. Their achievements are exemplary and to be emulated by other young girls in Kenya.”

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who also attended the ceremony, described the two as iconic role models and urged other women to emulate them and take up leadership positions. “It is high time compassionate and caring leadership steps up. It will be great if in 2017 we will see more women in national leadership positions,” he said.

Okolloh said she was humbled adding, “To be selected alongside the likes of Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is an honour. I believe it to be a reflection of the importance of the issues and challenges I and countless others are tackling on the continent and globally.”

She pointed out that being authentic and true to self is very powerful urging other women leaders to once in a while step back and recognise their achievements. She now leads Omidyar Network’s Government Transparency work in Africa.

Mutungi is also living her dream as she has earned a promotion as the first African female to captain the world’s newest plane, the Boeing B787 Dreamliner, a model her employer Kenya Airways bought recently.

The ace pilot said, “I am humbled by the recognition. It is about time I pick the baton and show other girls that there are numerous opportunities available for them and the sky is the limit.”

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Ory Okolloh Koki Mutungi achievement