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Women have fought hard to break barriers

COUNTIES
By Najma Ismail and Lorna Kibet | January 30th 2017
CS Amina Mohamed. (Photo: Courtesy)

Despite efforts to promote gender parity, women continue to face numerous challenges in almost every sector of the society.

That is why women have had to fight so hard to shatter the glass ceiling to ascend positions of leadership.

And there are many examples of women who have impacted the world positively through their hard work and determination.Our patriarchal society is harsher to women, especially those who make or appear to have made mistakes, than it is to men. An example is former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza, who quit in 2012 after she was found guilty of misconduct.

In politics, we have seen how Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and former Lands CS Charity Ngilu have been treated in their quest for top seats, including the presidency. They have been ridiculed and dismissed as lacking the capacity to hold the offices they seek.

Caroline Mutoko, Youth CS Sicily Kariuki, First Lady Magaret Kenyatta CS Amina Mohamed, Lands PS Mariam el Maawi, Defence CS Raychelle Omamo and Lady Jutice Njoki Ndung'u.

We may want to ask why the society is unfair to women but again this is how it has been since time immemorial and perhaps the best thing to do would be to continue the fight for gender equality.

But it is not all gloom. There are several women who have fought hard and have been able to protect their spaces. These include businesswoman Tabitha Karanja, the Managing Director of Naivasha-based Keroche Breweries. In August last year, Mrs Karanja earned the respect and recognition of the business community from across Africa for her fighting spirit after winning the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Africa Award in Accra, Ghana.

That is why many believe it is not far-fetched for Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed to seek the position of African Union Commission chairperson, which would make her the most powerful woman in the continent.

At a luncheon hosted by 'Friends of Amina', a cross-section of women, led by Zahra Bahlewa the wife to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Executive assistant to the Foreign Affairs CS Kabiru Mugacha hailed Amina as a trailblazer.

Zahra Bahlewa Moi and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

"The road to leadership has been long, winding, treacherous and painful for the Kenyan woman and we are still not yet there. We are indeed very happy to see Amina shatter the glass ceiling by vying for the top seat in Africa. Once at the top of AUC, Amina will have lit the way for the African girl child to reach for the stars," Nominated Senator (Kanu) Zipporah Kittony said during the luncheon.

If elected, Amina will be following in the footsteps of South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who retired last year after serving in the same position since in 2012. Dlamini-Zuma decided not to run for a second four-year term.

The luncheon dubbed 'light the way' at The Lord Erroll Gourmet Restaurant brought together family and friends of the CS who took time to pray for her success. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta was also present.

Guests were treated to a cocktail of traditional performances by Maasai and Somali entertainers. A famous Somali group, Al Amin, moved guests with its prayer, in form of a song.

Kabiru Mugacha, Zahra Bahlewa Moi, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, CS Amina Mohamed, Khalid Ahmed ( CS Amina's spouse) and Senator Zipporah Kittony.

While nominating her for the position last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta cited her credentials in diplomacy, in addition to her performance as Foreign Affairs minister. "Amina brings extraordinary experience and distinguished service at the national and international levels," the President said then.

"You have represented us well and we are proud of you. Keep flying the Kenyan flag higher. We know you will go far,"  Mrs Kenyatta said.

Amina pointed out the importance of harnessing the potential of youths in driving economies of their countries and the continent at large.

"The youth have qualities that can only be tapped into by giving them an opportunity. They have the energy, creativity and passion and know what they want for their future. They are who we need to drive the economy of this continent," Amina said.

Lady Justice Njoki Ndung'u described Amina as a symbol of nationalism and patriotism. "Heads of state and government will be electing the new AU chairperson and we are confident you will get it. You are the right person for the institution," she said.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo described Amina as an all-rounded leader who know how to handle family, friends and work. 

Gender CS Cecily Kariuki, a member of the Cabinet team appointed to campaign for Amina, said her counterpart is suited for the job because of the influence and experience.

Amina will be facing four other candidates including Agapito Mba Mokuy (Equatorial Guinea) Abdoulaye Bathily (Senegal), Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi (Botswana's) and Moussa Faki Mahamat (Chad).

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