Kenyatta Honours Women In Public Service

By James Kahongeh

More than 20 women were recognised yesterday by the government for their various contributions to socioeconomic and political spheres in Kenya.

Christened Trailblazers, the list includes veterans who have been involved with various causes and initiatives aimed at empowering women and the Kenyan society since independence.

The awards coincided with the launch of a book, It’s Possible: An African Woman Speaks, a memoir by Ms Phoebe Asiyo.


The book celebrates the critical role that women have played since independence to better the Kenyan society amid a myriad of cultural and structural challenges.

Ms Nyiva Mwendwa, Ms Ida Odinga, Dr Julia Ojiambo and Ms Margaret Kenyatta (posthumously) were conferred with the Elder of the Golden Heart for their various roles in fighting for and promoting the place of women in the socioeconomic and political arena in the country.

In the category of the Order of the Burning Spear, Ms Asiyo, Ms Grace Onyango and Nominated Senator Beth Mugo were honoured for fighting for women’s rights.

Other trailblazers who were honoured in this category for their outstanding contributions were International Criminal Court judge Justice Joyce Aluoch and former long-serving Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Zipporah Kittony.


Prof Wanjiku Kabira, an associate professor of literature at the University of Nairobi and Ms Muthoni Likimani, a literature icon were also recognised.

First Kenyan female professor Maria Nzomo, a diplomat, and Ms Mary Okelo, an educationist, were honoured for promoting education of women in the country.

Entrepreneurs Jennifer Riria and Evangeline Muli were bestowed with Moran of the Burning Spear for their involvement in trade and for promoting discussions on entrepreneurship and gender issues. Ms Riria is the chairperson of Kenya Women Holding, an initiative that seeks to empower women while and advocating for their rights.

Dr Eddah Gachukia, Dr Jane Kiano and Lady Justice Ephy Owuor were also honoured.


Hon Asiyo is a woman of many firsts. She was the first female Luo elder and was elected to the National Assembly for the Karachuonyo parliamentary seat in 1980 to 1983. Hon. Asiyo She was re-elected to parliament in 1992 and served until 1997. She is one of the longest serving women parliamentarians in the history of the country.

Ms Asiyo was conferred with the Chief of the Burning Spear for her efforts to promote education for girls, women’s rights and gender equality in the country.

She has also been on the front-line agitating for a more equitable political arena that recognises the role of women and empowers them to make significant contributions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta lauded the winners, saying that Kenya is a nation of strong women.


He singled out the role of women in the making of the Constitution, saying that had it not been for their contribution, the country would not have attained the two-thirds gender rule milestone.

One of the remarkable achievements of the Constitution is the appointment of women to key leadership positions. Public service, for instance, is an all women-led ministry, with the Cabinet Secretary, Chief Administrative Secretary and the Principal Secretary being women.

While acknowledging that significant progress has been made to empower women in the country, the President admitted that a lot more remains to be done to put more women on an equal footing with their men counterparts.


The President also directed the Ministry of Public Service to make the trailblazers celebration an annual event.

“The book captures the voice of the African woman and amplifies their position as a monument f patriotism, resilience and hard work,” the Head of State said of Ms Asiyo’s book.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta described Ms Asiyo as the representation of women for whom the glass ceiling never existed.


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