Building a path for the next generation: Women who inspired us in 2021

Achieving Woman
By Nancy Nzau | Sat,Jan 01 2022 15:33:27 EAT

 At 19, Nikita Kering won against African heavyweights such as Zuchu, Karun, Nandy and Wizkid [Courtesy]

This list applauds remarkable women who have made a lasting impression across the globe. Whether be it for their courage and strength, or their career dedication, we celebrate the women who’ve made our hearts skip a beat in 2021. Take a look. 

1. Nikita Kering

Nikita Kering rose to stardom after releasing her song Tragedy, addressing domestic violence in relationships. Her song ‘Ex’ exceeded expectations and saw her bag two Afrima Awards.   

At 19, Nikita won against African heavyweights such as Zuchu, Karun, Nandy and Wizkid. The star initially struggled between making commercial pop music or following her unique style of music. She settled on the latter. Suffice to say, the decision worked and she is now signed to Universal Music. 

“Follow your heart, be true to your craft and prioritize your legacy,” says Nikita to upcoming artistes.

2. MacKenzie Scott

Ranked the third richest woman in the world, Ms. Scott makes it to this list for upending traditional philanthropy through her determination to donate her money at will. Her ability to turn the attention from herself and onto the non-profits she’s trying to help reminds us that it’s not about the giver, rather, the receiver.

Unlike multibillion foundations, which have elaborate headquarters complete with large dedicated staff, Ms Scott’s operation has no known location or website. In her own words, she gives “unexpected gifts with full trust and no string attached. She prioritizes historically black universities and groups that offset medical bills or hand out food items. 

3. Rebecca Lolosoli

Rebecca Lolosoli is the founder and matriarch of Umoja Village, a women-only community located in Samburu County. For 30 years now, Umoja Village has provided security to thousands of women, girls, orphans and widows.

 Rebecca Lolosoli is the founder and matriarch of Umoja Village, a women-only community located in Samburu County [Courtesy]

Most of the residents of Umoja were fleeing female genital mutilation, domestic violence, forced marriages or are survivors of rape. They faced victimisation, abandonment by family, or economic and social challenges. Ms Lolosoli gathers these women to find strategies for survival collectively.

For her bravery, she has received global recognition, support and training to provide a safe haven and means of livelihood for these women.

4. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris has always broken records. She is the first black woman Vice President in the US, and she was the first African American woman to become an Attorney General in California.

Kamala also worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, specialising in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. 

We think of our elders and say, “We are because of them.” Years from now, a generation of children and young women will think of Kamala and say, “We are because of her.”

5. Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon is a modern-day superwoman. The record-breaking athlete showed the world that there are no limits to what one can achieve if one sets their mind to it. 

The ever-smiling Faith took one year off the track to have her baby— four months before birth and eight months after, upon which she began training for the World Championships. She went ahead and broke records, winning gold at the Olympics.

 The record-breaking athlete showed the world that there are no limits to what one can achieve if one sets their mind to it [Courtesy]

6. Samia Suluhu Hassan

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu is the nation’s first female president and one of a handful to make it to this level in Africa.

She was also the fifth-ever female African leader to address the UN General Assembly in September this year. In her speech, she criticized the Covid vaccine inequality that impacts developing nations.

Her leadership was commended worldwide when unlike her predecessor, the late President Magufuli, she imposed stricter Covid-19 management protocols such as mandatory quarantine for travellers. 

 Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu is the nation’s first female president [Courtesy]

President Suluhu inspires women to step up into their roles boldly and impartially.

7. Wanjira Mathai

Wanjira Mathai wears many hats, all stitched with a similar thread. Her service repertoire to transform the landscape and lives of Africa speaks for itself. She serves as Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute, contributes to developing leadership programs for African children and youth.

She also chairs the Greenbelt Movement, walking in front of her Nobel Prize-winning mother’s (Wangari Maathai) footsteps, carrying forward the vision to plant trees and provide nature-based solutions to achieve social and environmental justice. 

Ms. Wanjira Mathai inspires children around the globe to surpass the indomitable footprints of the brave warriors who dared to shape history.

8. Phylis Omido

Before she was the Executive Director of the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action, or an award-winning environmentalist, Phylis Omido was a single mother with no formal training.

She worked at a lead-smelting company in Mombasa when she discovered deadly contamination that poisoned her baby boy through her breast milk. Guided by a fierce desire to protect the future generation, Ms Omido quit her job and spearheaded community efforts to shut down the company.

 Phylis Omido inspired a generation of Kenyans to take action against injustices and corruption despite the obstacles along the way [Courtesy]

The pressure from her employer and the local authorities did not stall her determination. Despite fighting for justice for 12 years, she, along with other lead poisoning victims in her community, were awarded a landmark Sh1.2billion. The plant shut down in 2014.

Phylis Omido inspired a generation of Kenyans to take action against injustices and corruption despite the obstacles along the way.

9. Martha Koome

Despite a difficult childhood marred with challenges that often plague polygamous families, Martha Koome overcame all odds to become Kenya’s first female Chief Justice.

During her four-hour interview in front of a live television audience by Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC), she revealed that her parents were peasant farmers. She was born in a family of 18 children from two mothers. This set-up made it, especially difficult for the girls to achieve their dreams.  

 Martha Koome overcame all odds to become Kenya’s first female Chief Justice [Courtesy]

Her role in drafting Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, and her record on children and gender rights, stands out. During her panel interview, she was visibly proud of the new Constitution for upholding gender equality by outlawing retrogressive customs such as child marriage and FGM.

We honour Lady Justice Martha Koome for choosing to stand for the women and children of Kenya back when the law was pitted against them.

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