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19 Pioneering Kenyan women that you should know [….. They fought HARD to BREAK the BARRIERS]

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#5:. Dr. Florence Ng’endo Maingi

Dr. Ng’endo was the first woman lecturer at the UoN, the first female physicists (1985) and the first African to graduate from Smith College. Though not much is known about this woman, she was honoured at Smith’s college by having a hall named after her as the Mwangi Cultural Center.

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#6:. Chelagat Mutai

Chelagat Mutai made history by becoming the youngest Member of Parliament to date at the age of 24 beating other twelve contestants. The political scientist started her activism when she was expelled from school after leading a strike. Later on, Mutai was also arrested and sentenced for 6 months on the charges of insighting constituents to invade sisal plantation at Ziwa. Mutai was labelled to be among the 7th bearded sisters together with Abuya Abuya, Lands Minister James Orengo among others by Charles Njonjo. The name came as a result of them being considered as the ‘hard-headed’ MPs with when Daniel Arap Moi took over after the death of Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Mutai was to later be in abject poverty reaching out for help to the retired Prime Minister Raila Odinga for help after a spinal injury following a road accident. Mutai died of a heart attack in 2013.

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#7:. Mary Okello

Many know her as the founder of Makini schools and the first woman to serve as Bank Manager at Barclays Bank Kenya. She is also the founder of Barclays Women’s Association and later started the Kenyan Women’s Finance Trust (KWFT). Okello has been a senior advisor to the President of Africa Development Bank and was among the first regionals representatives of Women’s World Banking. She received the Golden Jubilee Award by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Kenya 50 at 50 celebrations in 2013. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at 2014 Africa Bank Awards.

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#8:. Nyiva Mwendwa Winfred

Nyiva was the widow to the first Chief Justice of Kenya Kitiki Mwendwa. Beyond that, she is the first woman to serve as a cabinet minister in charge of Culture and Social services after 1992. The master’s degree holder in textile and Interior design from Cornell University in the US, also an alumna of Alliance Girls, served as a three times MP, 1974, 1992 and 2002 for Kitui West constituency. She has since announced her retirement from politics stating that she will not defend her seat as Kitui County Women Representative.


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