6 Kenyan women who broke the glass ceiling in 2017
By Najma Ismail
| December 28th 2017
As 2017 draws to a close, it will be a remarkable one for women in leadership given it is the year that saw the election of three women governors- a significant development given all the governors elected in 2013 were men.
They have taken the lead to overcome obstacles that have made women to be viewed as marginalized and are competitively going for more leadership positions. This is what some of them had to say about 2017.
1. Charity Kaluki Ngilu, Governor Kitui
She says 2017 has offered her a definitive moment to rewrite governance in Kenya, with Kitui being the epicentre. "Kitui people elected me on a platform to sort out their basics among them food, water and healthcare. I have taken this challenge with a clear vision on where the County is headed. It is Kitui Forward Sasa!
My campaign was a gruelling experience. I traversed virtually every village and held conversations with Musangi. My lowest moment was when Kitui former mayor Martha Mwangangi was snapped from my grip and crushed to death by a fire engine as I watched during a protest against the destruction of kiosks by the then county government. My highest moment was the hundreds of meetings I held to meet gallant voters of Kitui who wanted a change of leadership in Kitui.
Women Empowerment is the forth pillar of my manifesto. When you empower a woman you power the heart of humanity," says Ngilu.
2. Anne Waiguru, Governor Kirinyaga
Many claimed that she couldn’t make it as Governor, but the former cabinet secretary for devolution not only became the Governor of Kirinyaga but is also the Deputy chair of the Council of Governors.
“The campaign period was long and drawn out. It was very tough especially being a first-time candidate but I am glad that I pulled through and emerged victoriously. My high moment was an overall sense of God’s presence throughout the process. I prayed a lot and my faith is what pulled me through. The engagements with the people of Kirinyaga were also very encouraging. The lows were the personal attacks. As a woman, I had to endure so many personal attacks. My family and my children were also not left out in the public criticism. Balancing the campaigns and making time for my children was challenging at times too. I thank God for His faithfulness. I have a passion to influence and shape women leadership in this country. It was an honour to be elected by my peers and in particular to be among the first women governors in Kenya."
Waiguru’s plans for 2018 is to serve the people of Kirinyaga the best way she can. She says her Government is currently developing a sessional paper dubbed “The Mountain Cities Blueprint-2032” that will outline a vision and strategy for the people of Kirinyaga. It will also contain the second County Integrated Development Plan, which was informed by the just concluded public participation forums.
"My priorities in the upcoming months are health care reform, transport infrastructure, youth and women empowerment and value addition for our farmers. In the next six months, we plan to grade and murram 200kms of road. We are also looking into water and sanitation in our markets and better markets for our agricultural produce. We are looking to open a world-class diagnostic center to encourage medical tourism, and we will also look into availing maternity in all the County Wards."
3. Joyce Laboso, Governor Bomet County
She says after being in politics for more than 10 years she thought she would be used to the number of people trying to bring a woman down or the amount of propaganda directed at her, but unfortunately that number increased with the higher responsibility that came with her being the Governor. However, Laboso reiterates that she will ignore the sideshows and focus on the honour she was given by the people of Bomet who yearned for change and wanted to feel the impact of devolution.
It is not just women in politics who made the headlines in 2017. There are also women like:
4. Rebecca Miano, MD/CEO Kengen
The professional lawyer who joined Kengen in 1998 beat 90 applicants to become the first woman to ever hold the position at the energy parastatal. Miano says they are committed to our Good-2-Great transformation strategy, through which "we aim to grow our installed capacity by adding up to 720MW, mostly from renewable energy in the next three years."
Miano who has been in the energy sector for about 24 years has seen the sector grow from days when power outages were common, to today "when we are able to sustain reliable supply even during prolonged droughts, without power rationing. This has been made possible partly by the strategic shift from reliance on hydro-generated power to geothermal sources."
5. Zahra Bahlewa Moi, CEO the Lord Erroll restaurant
Zahra has managed to keep her life very private and away from the limelight. But her accolades in 2017 made the Baringo Senator’s wife hit the headlines, as her restaurant The Lord Errol put Kenya on the global map by scooping the Global Award in Restaurant of the Year category, awarded by the prestigious Luxury Travel Guide (LTG).
The Lord Erroll, which had initially won the Africa and the Middle East Restaurant of the Year award, was among five finalists representing Europe, Asia, The Americas and Australia.
Mrs Moi was also honoured with the esteemed Chairman’s Award at the first ever Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Women in Business Awards that drew business owners from various fields including science, Education, construction among others.
6. Muthoni Muriuki, chair, Women in Business Kenya
Muthoni Muriuki is the first female elected director since 1965 by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) representing central Kenya and chairing the women in Business. She is the brainchild of women in business Kenya and the first ever women in business awards to be held in the country. Muthoni is also a devolution warrior award winner for 2017 in respect to gender and public service issues.
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