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5 influential Kenyan women we celebrate on International Women’s Day

Kenya is home to many influential women who made or have made a significant impact on the country’s social, economic and political landscape.

As we mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we take a moment to celebrate and honour the achievements of five these remarkable women.

Wangari Maathai – She is famously remembered for her environmental conservation initiatives through her Green Belt Movement. Over the years, her organization has planted over 50 million trees in Kenya to promote sustainable development and combat climate change. The late Prof Maathai was also the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts towards environmental conservation and women’s rights.

Lupita Nyong’o – The Oscar-award actress has made a name for herself in Hollywood. Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Lupita has used her platform to promote African stories and diversity in the film industry. She has won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (12 Years a Slave), and has become a role model for many young women around the world.

Anne Waiguru – She shattered the glass ceiling in 2017 by become one of the first three women to be elected as governors. The other two are late Joyce Laboso (Bomet) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui). The second-term Kirinyaga governor has inspired many women to pursue leadership roles. Ms Waiguru has also been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and has implemented policies to improve healthcare and education in her county.

Grace Ogot – One of Kenya’s most well-known writers, the late Ogot was among the first Anglophone female (Kenyan) writers to be published. She also worked as a script-writer and broadcaster for the BBC Overseas Service. In recognition of her immense contribution to the region’s literary scene, she was named a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1975, later serving as a member of the Kenyan delegation to UNESCO in 1976. In 1988, she was elected the MP of Gem constituency in Siaya. She also served as Assistant Minister for Culture between 1985 and 1993.

Zipporah Kittony – She was the chairperson of Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation between 1996 and 2006. Her achievements in promoting women and youth affairs is immeasurable. She was awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior in 1998 and the American Biographical Institute Women of the Year Award in 1999.

It is worth noting that these are not the only influential Kenyan women worthy of mention on this International Women’s Day. There are countless others who have left indelible marks in different walks of life and made a significant impact on Kenya’s society. Their efforts have paved the way for future generations of women to follow in their footsteps. On this day, we honour their achievements and celebrate their contribution to our nation’s progress.

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