AMWIK has published a new book on women parliamentarians titled ’86 AND COUNTING: WOMEN LEADERS IN KENYA’S 11TH PARLIAMENT.’
The book reveals that while poverty interrupted the education of some of Kenya’s brightest women MPs such as Hon. Jebii Kilimo, others studied for doctorate degrees at the world’s top universities.
It discloses that while some women came from privileged backgrounds, others such as televangelist Hon Margaret Wanjiru started their careers cleaning toilets and offices.
“One does not need a name, a husband, money or anything to get political leadership,” asserts Hon. Rachel Shebesh in the book. Hon. Shebesh who sacrificed her successful design company to work in Kasarani community cites hard work as the most important factor to success. “No woman MP just happens”, she says.
The book similarly catalogues the challenges the women have faced, in order to succeed in a male-dominated profession. It records, for example, how when Gender Minister Hon Naomi Shaban, first tried to run for office, her local council of Elders refused to support her, believing a woman incapable of addressing the urgent issues of land ownership in their area. They sent a delegation to Nairobi to urge KANU not to let her run on their ticket. The Elders got their wish but Hon. Shaban persisted. She now sits in Kenya’s Cabinet. “Politics is not the preserve of men.”says the Minister.
The book also shows that many women have juggled their careers with their roles as mothers and wives. “Women are created to multi-task.” says Hon Peris Chepchumba Simam, “When I am at home I am a wife and mother at the same time. I cook for my family.”
So, if you are feeding the baby as you read this, cooking for your family or generally doing the one million and one tasks women are often called upon to do, consider this as a potential new calling. Kenya needs talented women like you.