While little is known about the soft spoken Honorine Kiplagat, her achievements in protecting the rights of women and children are remarkable.
She is the wife of the late Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, a man described as a devout Christian and a great patriot who played a key role in peace making in the country, Africa and across the continent.
Mrs Kiplagat feels strongly about protecting the rights of girls and has over the years worked tirelessly to instill positive beliefs and values in the young girls. She feels that while progress has been made especially in eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, a lot of input is still needed to build on the progress.
Mrs Kiplagat has been a recipient of a medal from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in recognition of dedication and dedication of extraordinary service to the sector in 2010.
She was also awarded “The Moran of the Burning Spear” back in 2007 by retired President Mwai Kibaki for her distinguished service rendered to the nation.
She was born 79 years ago in Madagascar where she spent the better part of her young life and schooling. She would later proceed to Paris to purse a degree in development studies where she met the love her life, a man she terms as her pillar, greatest supporter and advisor.
“He was the love of my life and I miss him very much, a lot of what I have achieved I owe to him,” remembers Mrs Kiplagat.
They were both from Africa and residing in a Christian hostel when they met and it was their devotion to Christianity that linked them together.
Mrs Kiplagat reveals that it was her husband’s mastery of the French language that first drew her to him, and from then everything else was history. She laughs heartily as she takes a trip down memory lane.
“He spoke French fluently, he spoke it so well. By then I did not know he came from Kenya,” she said.
They got married in 1968 and she relocated to the country (Kenya), from Accra, Ghana working with Food and Agriculture Organisation, in 1971 to join her husband.
In 1978 she quit her job at the International Council on Social Welfare when Mr Kiplagat was appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to France. It was there that she was involved in diplomatic activities both relating to Paris and Kenya.
She also got the opportunity to organise a fashion show that showcased and promoted Kenya’s culture.
During her husband’s tenure as Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, she chaired the Common Wealth Countries League that organised a fair to raise money that supports girls’ education.
They moved back to Kenya in 1983 where Mrs Kiplagat joined United Nations Environment Programme and was in charge of youth and women programmes. It was in this position that she was able to further several women developmental agendas especially in the environment sector.
She played a key part in the Beijing Conference of 1995 on women and the environment and worked hard over the years to maintain gender mainstream in environment.
Her greatest achievements have however been in the Girl Guide sector. Here she mentors the girls from as young as seven years old to be confident about themselves.
“We are giving them support to develop their full potential from a young age. We frame them to realise they have a place in the family and church and they should not hide. Their voice needs to be heard,” says Mrs Kiplagat.
Her involvement with the Girl Guide and Scouts association, both local and international, dates back to the 1970’s.
In 2016, she was honoured by the Kenya Girl Guides Association as a hero and was recognised for her exemplary leadership and service to the community.She is currently the chair of the board of trustees of the association.
Mrs Kiplagat who serves in several boards supporting girl child education and the elderly, among others, is a mother to three children and three grandchildren.
She is a devout Christian and Lay Canon of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Westlands.