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Martha Karua: Stop calling me ‘Iron Lady’

Her tenacity, no nonsense attitude and boldness to take on whatever is thrown at her has earned her many praises in Kenyan politics including the name Iron Lady.

But now Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition presidential running mate Martha Karua says that she has never liked the name.

In an interview with CNN correspondent Larry Madowo, Ms Karua explained that the fact that she had to be branded as the iron lady speaks to the level of patriarchy in the Kenyan society, that it had to define her as different of what a woman has been perceived to be, just because of her show of strength.

“I think that name in a way speaks to the misogyny within society, strength is not perceived as female, strength is perceived as male,” she explained.


When asked about whether Kenya is ready to have a female president she said, “that question suggests that women ought not to be on the ballot, because I have never heard anybody questioning whether Kenyans are ready for yet another male president. So that question in itself is discriminatory, Kenya is ready for women at all levels.”

Ms Karua, who is lawyer by profession, started her political career during the late President Daniel arap Moi’s era. She once stood up to President Moi over his declaration to disband Law Society of Kenya (LSK), ostensibly for advocating for multi-party democracy.

Ms Karua would later walk out of Kenneth Matiba’s Ford-Asili party over what she identified as an unethical nominations.

But June 16, 2001 she displayed an unwavering commitment to her strong moral principles. As the only opposition MP at a Moi function in her Kirinyaga backyard, she recognised that a sitting president deserved his respect.

Then came 2007 when she led a one-woman army against accusations that PNU had rigged elections against ODM. When that was recently brought up by her opponents to counter her corruption accusations against them, Ms Karua responded by saying she has “no apologies for being Kibaki’s agent at KICC.”

Additional reporting by Shiko Ngure