Inside Politics

Uhuru’s vision of women era

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022 00:45 | By
Azimio-One Kenya deputy presidential candidate Martha Karua chats with Espora (Europe and Africa) consultant Jesus Alberto Elizondo at Uhuru Gardens during the 59th Madaraka Day celebrations, yesterday. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday challenged Kenyans to consider choosing the first female Deputy President so as to create gender parity.  While commemorating the 59th Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, the President said Kenya had built women's leadership and expanded their fields of participation in governance.

“In August this year, if it is the wish of the electorate, we have a chance of a woman shattering the glass ceiling by assuming the second-highest office in our Republic, the Office of the Deputy President,” he said.

“If our women were part of the liberation struggle, advancing their course intentionally is a duty we owe them and ourselves as a country.  And I am, indeed, proud to have been part of this push for women leadership in Kenya,” He added.

The Head of State explained that for a long time, women affairs were relegated to the Department of Social Services, where they were grouped together with children and people living with disabilities.

He added that the first woman to be appointed as Permanent Secretary happened 24 years after independence.

On IEBC’s deadline day of May 16, Azimio-One Kenya presidential hopeful Raila Odinga picked former Gichugu MP Martha Karua as his running mate.

Karua, the former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Cabinet Minister, was for long nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady’ for her valiant efforts in Kenya’s male-dominated political arena. Should the duo win the August polls, Karua would become Kenya’s first female deputy president.

In 1987, Margaret Githinji was appointed the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Industry, on that year’s Maradaka Day. 

The first woman to become a Cabinet Minister was Nyiva Mwendwa — 32 years after Kenya’s independence — in 1995.

High-profile portfolios

Uhuru said that thanks to the 2010 Constitution, he has worked with 11 women in his Cabinet since 2013 in different capacities. “In my commitment to equality and inclusivity, I have had the pleasure of working with 11 women in my Cabinet, at different times and in different capacities.  All of them have occupied high-profile portfolios.  All the Cabinet secretaries for Foreign Affairs, for the past nine years, have been women,” he said amid applause.

He reiterated that his administration had fast-tracked the promotion of women to leadership in the security sector, saying he appointed Fatuma Ahmed as the first woman Maj-Gen of the Defence Forces in 2018.

“Similarly, the first female holder of the constitutional office of Auditor-General was appointed under my administration. Mrs Nancy Gathungu, appointed in 2021, continues to serve in that capacity.”

He said that after 58 years of independence, in May 2021, he was the first President to start an address to the nation with the salutation: “Madam Chief Justice”. This was after Justice Martha Koome assumed office as the first woman Chief Justice.

Kenya’s Judiciary also boasts a female Deputy Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, a female Chief Registrar, Ann Amadi, and many female principal judges and presiding judges across superior courts.

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