Kenyan women blazing a trail to the C-suite

Mukiira
Mukiira

What you need to know:

  • Women are critical to advancing gender justice and equality.
  • But they continue to be vastly under-represented in decision-making in politics, businesses and in our communities.

Women representation in high-level leadership positions remains critically low in Kenya, even within international organisations that shape global dialogue.

The country is also lagging behind in embracing gender parity in political and corporate leadership. The Constitution, through affirmative action, seeks to elevate women to a pedestal that has hitherto been the preserve of men, but it has not been an easy ride.

UNDER-REPRESENTED

Women are critical to advancing gender justice and equality, but continue to be vastly under-represented in decision-making in politics, businesses and in our communities.

This far, women constitute 28 per cent of Cabinet. They also account for only 23 per cent of the National Assembly and Senate elected leaders, a gender analysis by National Democratic Institute and the Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya reveals.

CORPORATE SPHERE

A study on gender equality at the workplace by Nairobi Securities Exchange, Equileap and New Faces New Voices shows that in the corporate sphere, women represent only 22 per cent of management.

Despite Covid-19 dampening the overall outlook in 2020, Kenyan women have something to celebrate — we have more women who have overcome barriers to leadership and influence to the decision-making table.

We honour some who have made it to local, regional and international executive leadership positions in the last six months.

Fatuma Dullo - Senate Deputy Majority Leader

Ms Dullo is the Isiolo Senator who replaced Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika in the recent leadership changes by Jubilee Party. Senator Dullo is a woman of many firsts. She is the first elected woman Senator of Isiolo County. At age 22, she made history by serving as the first female District Officer from the Borana community. She later served as a commissioner at the Kenya Human Rights Commission. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Kathryne Maundu - Company secretary at the East Africa Breweries Limited and British American Tobacco Kenya PLC

Ms Maundu has, within three months, earned herself two executive appointments to blue chip companies. In March, EABL appointed her to serve as company secretary, a position that hands her rights to handle the firms’ legal and secretarial matters. In June, BAT also settled on her to fill a similar position. She has more than 12 years consulting experience. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Sanda Ojiambo - Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact

She is the second woman to take up the role. The first is her Danish predecessor, Lise Kingo, from whom she took over on June 16, 2020. As the head of UN Global Compact, she steers a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders and brings the full weight of the private sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She previously worked at Safaricom.

Mukiira
Mukiira

Wambui Gichuri - Acting Vice President of the African Development Bank Group
She was recently appointed to serve in acting capacity as VP for agriculture, human and social development. She will oversee engagements on water sector policy, strategy and business development. Prior to her elevation, she served as the bank’s director for water development and sanitation under which she managed a water sector programme worth over $4.5 billion (Sh479.7 billion). 

Fatuma Ahmed - Major-General, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF)

She is the first Kenyan woman to hold the rank of Major-General. She now serves as Assistant Chief of the Defence Forces, overseeing crucial security operations undertaken by the KDF. In 2015, she became the first military woman to be promoted to a Brigadier, before she was later promoted to Major-General.

Betty Murungi - Professor of Practice, Centre for Gender Studies - School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
She is a human rights lawyer with expertise in transitional justice processes, human rights, gender, constitutionalism and governance. She has served on the board of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court and is a past board member of Fida-Kenya. 

Emma Miloyo - Independent director - Longhorn Publishers PLC
Ms Miloyo is a registered architect and founder of Design Source Limited. She has vast experience in the architectural sector spanning 15 years. She previously served as president and vice-president of Architectural Association of Kenya and is also the vice-president of Women in Real Estate. She has served in various boards including Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.

Ashura Michael - First deaf Speaker of the East African Youth Parliament

She is one of the four speakers elected to the East African Youth Parliament on November 14 last year. The 150 youth drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan set a precedent by electing the young gender equality advocate despite being deaf.

Sharon Obonyo - Acting Chief Executive Officer, National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority
She was appointed by the authority’s board to take over from Eng Geoffrey Sang, who was interdicted over graft allegations. Until her appointment in April, Ms Obonyo was the authority’s chief legal officer. She previously served as a legal officer for the Geothermal Development Company.
 

Nancy Janet Kabui Gathungu - Nominee for Auditor-General position
She is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominee for the position of Auditor-General. Should Parliament approve her nomination, Ms Gathungu will succeed Mr Edward Ouko, who retired in August last year. She will serve for a non-renewable term of eight years. As AG, she will be tasked with auditing financial accountability of the Legislature, Judiciary, Executive, constitutional commissions and independent offices.

Asha Mohammed, Secretary-General, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) 
She replaced long-serving Secretary General Abbas Gullet. Prior to her appointment, she served as Deputy Secretary General and Head of Programmes at KRCS. She is responsible for monitoring the entity’s humanitarian services. She previously served in different capacities within the Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC). She was appointed secretary-general January this year.

Rebecca Miano - Advisory Council on Gender and Development - World Bank
She has joined World Bank Group’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development as a participating member. Ms Miano is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), the first woman to hold that position at the power generator. She announced the new development on her Twitter account on July 7. 

Prof Margaret Kamar, Senate Deputy Speaker
She replaced Tharaka-Nithi Senator, Prof Kithure Kindiki, to become the first female deputy speaker. She has a doctorate in Soil Science from the University of Toronto, Ontario-Canada, which she attained in 1992. She also served as Eldoret East MP for one term (from 2008-2013) and as nominated member for the East Africa Legislative Assembly from 2001 to 2006.

TerryAnne Chebet - Patron for Pan African Business Women’s Association, South Africa
As the patron, the media personality will facilitate women in Africa to take advantage of opportunities provided by the continental Free Trade Agreement. She previously served as general manager for Metropol TV, a 24-hour business channel based in Kenya.