Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the world’s first democratically directly elected female president. She served Iceland for 16 years from 1980 – the longest for a female president.
In Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in the continent. She was Liberia’s twenty-fourth President and served for 12 years from the year 2006.
Closer home, Charity Kaluki Ngilu became Kenya’s first presidential candidate. She took the stab in 1997, came short and a distant fourth in the male-dominated race that was won by retired President Daniel Arap Moi. Ngilu’s scorched-earth strategy opened the floodgates for hundreds of powerful women leaders Kenya has ever had.
What is interesting about these three leaders is not just the presidency, but the critical roles they played in building an equitable society. They shattered the perception that the female gender is made up of just victims of conflict or are indeed collaterally damaged during the war.
And so is the concept of the project code-named “Ms President”, which Muhuri and Media Focus on Africa is implementing. The project’s goal is to build sustainable capacity in Kenya for effective peacebuilding, conflict management, and crisis preparedness.
Muhuri is implementing the project in Mombasa, Kilifi, and Kwale. Now, Media Focus on Africa is carrying out a 26-episode, reality television series, MsPresident.
The TV series empowers women and girls to prevent violent extremism and radicalization. Furthermore, it strengthens the institutional and operational capacity of civil society actors and media practitioners to prevent violence against women and protect human rights.
Two-day training for the project has kicked off today at Turtle Bay Beach Beach Club. Forty women from Mombasa, Kilifi, and Kwale — half of whom are from the CSOs and the rest from the community — have been convened.
The participants are learning from historical events and will change outcomes in the future through peacebuilding, promotion of dialogue, and mediation. One thing is certain, though; Kenyan women have a greater potential of forging a just and equitable nation.