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Notable Kenyan women who have held plum and influential positions

By Standard Reporter | January 30th 2017
Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia. (Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard)

Mekatilili Wa Menza

She was known as the prophetess of the Giriama revolt. Born in 1840s, she grew up to be one of Giriama’s most influential and powerful women.

She led the Giriama in a rebellion opposing forced labour in British-owned rubber and sisal plantations, the hut tax, land seizure and evictions in 1913-1914.

Mekatilili was later captured by the British and exiled in Western Province. She, however, returned five years later to her native area where she continued to oppose colonial policies. She died in 1914.

Prof Margaret Kobia

She is the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, the first woman to hold such a position. She is an associate professor of management, and holds a Phd degree in human resource education from the University of Illinois, MEd from Kenyatta University and B.Ed. from the University of Nairobi. She received her ‘O’ and ‘A’ level education at Alliance Girls High School.

She is described as one of the most powerful women in Kenya yet very humble.

Prof Kobia was born and brought up in Meru County. She is the first-born in a family of seven.

Before joining the PSC, she was the Director General of Kenya School of Government. She chairs the Judicial Service Commission Committee on audit governance and risk management.

Sally Kosgei

Born in 1949, Sally Kosgei has been christened as Rift Valley’s iron lady.

She was the first woman to hold the position of Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service in the Office of the President during the Moi era.

The former Aldai MP was educated at Alliance Girls High School, and received her M.A in 1975 and her PhD in 1980 from Stanford University in the United States.

Dr Kosgei was influential and wielded a lot of power during the Moi years.

In 2008, she became the minister for Higher Education in the coalition government. In April 2010, she swapped dockets with the then Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

Nyiva Mwendwa

She is currently the Kitui Woman Representative but has announced that she will not be defending her seat in 2017.

She was the first Kenyan woman to serve as a Cabinet Minister for Culture and Social Services in 1995.

The mother of two was educated at Alliance Girls High School, Cornell University, New York, where she graduated with a Masters in Textile Science, interior design. She also studied at the University of Manchester and graduated with a Diploma in Education.

She served as the Kitui West MP for three terms.

Margaret Kenyatta

Born in 1928, she is the first-born daughter of the country’s first President Jomo Kenyatta. She was the first and only woman to become Nairobi mayor from 1970 to 1976. She later became the first woman to serve as an ambassador.

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