, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – “Most importantly, I challenge women to aggressively seek leadership positions – I mean aggressively and I repeat aggressively.”
These were some of the thunderous messages of gender equality that Lucy Kibaki, Kenya’s third First Lady will be remembered for as the country mourns her demise.
She told a forum of Women Affairs Ministries from the Great Lakes Region in Mombasa in June 2009 that women should get out of their comfort zone if they are to be heard and get leadership positions.
She never shied away from telling women the blatant truth about why Kenya like other African countries struggle with getting enough women candidates during elections.
Even after her husband’s administration (Mwai Kibaki) declared a government policy of 30 percent affirmative action for women in the public sector, she still felt that it was not enough.
“Go for 50 percent equal share in the government since there is nothing that men can do which women can’t do in life.”
She was convinced that women were lagging behind because they had not persistently and courageously put up a fight to match their male counterparts.
“You have to put pressure on men, they don’t give anything easily, you women give things easily – men don’t.”
“At this century you should know you have to be aggressive to get what you want, you cannot get what you want on a silver platter,” she insisted in one of the meetings with aspiring women leaders.
Causing laughter and cheers from the crowd of women, Lucy reminded them that by fighting she did not mean that they physically harm men.
“By aggressively, I don’t mean violence to men, I mean you must be pushy, persistent and you must not tire until you get what you want.”
In her view, women had the power within themselves to even influence men to support them.
“You know which button to touch and you get what you want from men.”
“I am saying this because in this country our women have been saying we want this, we should be given this, you are not given, you work for it.
“But you have been doing it nicely, politely,” she explained it was the reason why only few women succeeded in politics.
She urged women to unite and support each other since they were in higher numbers than men.
“Let the 2012 General Election be a lesson to men as they are used to using women as a stepping ladder to top positions in the country,” she said.
Many times she called for women’s economic empowerment to help them fight against gender based violence which she blamed on their economic dependency.
She was always concerned that many girls had no access to education making them easy prey of early marriages and poverty.
Since the sad news broke out on Tuesday, Lucy has been celebrated across the country as a woman of substance for her decisiveness in calling for respect of women and children.