By Staff Writer
Women are playing a more central role in various sectors of the economy bashing the long held notion that they are the weaker sex. This is also true in the political front if the number of women elected as county bosses, parliamentarians and senators is anything to go by. Then we have chief executive officers (CEOs) of blue chip companies whose leadership is comparable-if not better-to their male peers. This article looks at the top ten most powerful women in Kenya in 2021. Enjoy the read!
They say money is power and mama Ngina Kenyatta has lots of it. She’s the country’s foremost First Lady and now the mother of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s fourth president. Her wealth was accumulated during Jomo Kenyatta’s reign where she amassed large chunks of land. Ngina Kenyatta has held her family together which has enabled them to control almost all the sectors of the country’s economy. According to well placed sources, Ngina has a lot of say on some of the decisions the president makes including the ‘March 18 Handshake’ between her son and former prime minister Raila Odinga.
Deputy president William Ruto must be lucky to have the firebrand straight shooting Aisha Jumwa by his political side. The Malindi MP knows how to work the crowd and credit must be given to her for delivering the Msambweni seat to DP’s preferred candidate Feisal Abdalla Bade. Jumwa has proved to be one of the most powerful women legislators whose influence will be felt in the 2022 general elections.
CEOs’ performance is measured by the profitability they drive in their respective companies while politicians ascendancy to power is based on their rhetoric-which is mostly empty. A good number of women are appointed to political positions on account of party loyalty and favouritism, being named a CEO of a blue chip company is however a different ball game. Jane Karuku is at the helm of East African Breweries Limited (EABL). Her rise to the top took years of experience that resulted into her appointment as EABL MD.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu is what you can call a self made politician. She will go down in history books as Kenya’s first female presidential candidate. Ngilu did not require any political patronage from the likes of Kalonzo Musyoka to clinch the county top seat. It was through her individual brilliance and the influence she wields in Kitui.
Amb. Raychelle Omamo
The Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs is not inspiring at all. How she ended up as the Defence CS before being moved to the Foreign Affairs docket is baffling. That stated, Omamo is from a rich family with close ties to the presidency. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s son Jomo Kenyatta is married to Omamo’s niece Fiona Achola Ngobi.
Back to the corporate world. Rebecca Miano is the first female CEO of KenGen Plc, the largest power production company in the region. The lawyer by training was at the helm of KenGen on acting capacity from 25 August 2015 before she was confirmed on 1 November 2017.
ODM leader Raila Odinga’s wife Ida Odinga is not a CEO of any known company and has kept away from politics. This has however not diluted the fact that she is one of the most powerful women in Kenya. She enjoys all the trappings of power and her recent fundraiser towards her alma mater-Ogande Girls High School-raised kes176.9 million to go towards the building of a 500 student capacity library. This goes to show how powerful Raila’s wife is.
She has been out of the political limelight for more than 8 years but that doesn’t change the fact that she is a formidable force to reckon with. Martha Karua is best remembered for putting up a spirited fight in defense of former president Mwai Kibaki during and after the 2007/08 presidential elections against Raila Odinga. The country went into chaos that resulted in deaths and a power agreement had to be arrived at to end the post election violence. Karua played a key role in ensuring Kibaki got a better deal than his political nemesis Raila Odinga.
Another notable female corporate leader worth mentioning is the managing director of Isuzu East Africa Ltd Rita Kavashe. Apart from holding that position, Rita holds the position of Chairperson of the Kenya Roads Board and the Vice-Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. She is also a non-executive director in a number of listed firms.
No actress has reached the enviable heights of Lupita Nyong’o. She has appeared in highly acclaimed movies putting the Kenya flag in the world map.