Pressing for progress: A celebration of women pioneers in all spheres
10 months ago, 8 Mar 04:47
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. It is a day when we look back and celebrate the massive achievements women have made in our societies, while pushing for more progress in areas that women are under-represented and disenfranchised. The history of the International Women’s Day can be traced to 1908, when over 15,000 women marched across New York City demanding equal rights. Two years later, in 1910, Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of the International Women’s Day. The day was officially celebrated on March 19, 1911, but was later moved to March 8 in 1913 and it has been celebrated ever since. So the International Women’s Day is a phenomenon that has been with us for the past over 100 years. In 1975, the United Nations officially recognised the day and brought in a theme that would be celebrated each year. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress, a theme that appreciates how far women have come and pushes for even more progress in leadership, workplace, politics, education, sports, the arts and every other aspect. That women have come far and made massive progress is not in question. However, women still have a long and tough road ahead of them, particularly in areas of corporate and political leadership. In Kenya, particularly, women still remain under-represented in the boardrooms, with 21 per cent representation, according to the Leadership and Diversity Survey Report 2017 conducted by the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM). Although this is an improvement from 14 per cent in 2012 and 18 per cent in 2015, we still need more women at the very top of public listed companies. Last year’s elections saw women make history; with three female governors and three female elected senators. However, the two thirds majority rule still seems like a forlorn dream for Kenyan women, who are still under-represented in the current Cabinet. To celebrate International Women’s Day, 35 pioneering women are profiled and celebrated for their courage, tenacity and diligence to become the “first” in their various fields. Ranging from the first female Member of Parliament to younger women such as Kenya’s first female marine pilot, these luminaries beat the path for many who came after them, pressing for the progress of Kenyan women. 1. Mary Okello: First woman bank branch manager The fourteenth born of 16 children, this daughter of Canon Jeremiah Musungu Awori and Mama Mariamu Awori attended Butere Girls and later Alliance Girls High School. She was among the first 13 girls admitted to Alliance Girls High School — alongside Justice Effie Owuor, Prof Florida Karani, Elizabeth Wanjiru (actress of TV programme “Mother-in-Law”) and Elizabeth Masiga. Her career kicked off at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1967 before moving to Barclays Bank six months later. In 1977, she became Kenya’s first woman bank branch manager, at a time when women could not access loans without the approval of their husbands. Mary, together with other female colleagues at the bank, founded the Barclays Bank Women’s ...
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