Time for women to consolidate gains
The show of support for Justice Martha Koome by women leaders in the country is in the right direction and dispels the stereotype that other women do not back their own.
Data from UN Women indicate as much as there is increased engagement of women in public decision-making roles, things are still not equal.
Women are underrepresented at all aspects of decision-making and gender-based violence in public life is widespread. It is not rare for people to resist women’s leadership.
As such, seeing the team led by Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia rally behind her is a statement that sends a message across the country and the world.
It came at the right time, especially after people not only questioned her academic qualifications and competence despite the fact that she has been in the industry for more than 30 years, but also implied that her nomination was flawed.
This is just an example of unconscious bias women have to face as they climb up the leadership ladder.
That the leaders also called for the focus to be on Justice Koome’s competence rather than gender, breaks misconceived notions that women cannot be reliable and professional leaders.
The nomination is proof that she merits that position. Even the nominated Chief Justice said in her own words that “leadership is gender-neutral.
It doesn’t require a man or a woman. It is the skills that will deal with the challenges we face”.
It also sends a message to younger women and girls that they should support each other in taking leadership opportunities to make an impact in their own lives and those of others in a holistic way.
It is an inspiration that they can dream big and get the necessary support from fellow women from the highest to the lowest level to achieve this dream.
Importantly, the women leaders should not stop with their support for Koome, they should support others as well, especially at the grassroots.
They must also go an extra mile to provide spaces and infrastructure that will allow women at all levels to access resources including funding to enhance their education and skills as they pursue their dreams.
Formulation and support of policies that are women-friendly will go a long way to fight against social and cultural norms that impede women from leadership or those that expose them to violence as they pursue leadership opportunities.