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Women who broke the glass ceiling in 2021

By Grace Ng'ang'a | Dec 26th 2021 | 3 min read

Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu, olympian Faith Kipyegon and Chief Justice Martha Koome.

This year women shattered glass ­ceilings to take up top leadership positions locally and internationally.

They proved they are equal to any task and are willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of their careers and the people.

In Kenya and around the world, women no longer shy away from powerful positions in governance, politics, and civil society.

Here are some eight women who earned a place in history by joining the list of firsts in 2021.

Kamala Harris

Harris made history on January 20, when she was sworn in as the first female, first Asian-American, and first Black vice president of the United States.

She moved into office at an important time where the Americans were grappling over the role of institutional racism with the largest movement of black lives matter, where black Americans decentralized political and social movements protesting against incidents of police brutality.

Samia Suluhu

Suluhu joined the list of powerful women in Africa after she took over as Tanzania’s first female president following the demise of President John Magufuli in March.

She also made history as the first female vice-president of Tanzania when Magufuli was elected President in 2015. She was listed in Forbes list of 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2021.

Coming at position 94, the Tanzania President was ranked among notables like the US Vice President Kamala Harris (position 2), European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde (3), Melinda French Gates (5) and MacKenzie Scott, who topped the list.

Martha Koome

Koome broke the ceiling to become the first female Chief Justice of Kenya.

Lady Justice Koome is also the first female chief justice in East Africa and the 6th in Africa.

Rose Okeno

Okeno made history after she was consecrated as the first female bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya in September.

She took over the leadership of the Butere diocese at a time when the consecration of women as bishops is still controversial.     

Ann Kananu

Kananu made history by becoming the first female Nairobi governor joining the list of women who have broken the ceiling in leadership like Governors Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet).

She overcame legal hurdles placed in her way by former Governor Mike Sonko to be sworn in as the county boss in November.

Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon

She led the pack of women who made headlines for their spectacular performance in sports.

The Olympic women’s 1500 metres champion defended her title at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

During Jamhuri Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta honoured Kipyegon with the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya.

Peris Chepchirchir

The women's marathon champion in Tokyo Olympics was also awarded the Order of Marathon Warrior.

Maxine Wahome

She made headlines when she debuted as the only female driver of the WRC Safari Rally in Naivasha, Nairobi.

Wahome was amongst four drivers who drove Subaru N10.

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