NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s day on Sunday, Kenya has something unique that calls for celebration.
One woman has placed Kenya on the world map.
She is Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch who was recently elected a judge of the International Criminal Court.
Her appointment comes as the country debates whether to send perpetrators of the post election violence of 2008 to the ICC or try them locally through a Special Tribunal.
One rider though, if the suspects end up at The Hague, they can expect nothing but justice from Aluoch.
When Capital News spoke to the Appellate Judge she was upbeat about her election to the international court.
"Why don’t I tell you more after I am sworn in," she told this reporter with a broad smile.
She is a warm personality, and is sufficiently humbled to spare some time for the interview despite her hectic schedule.
As Kenyans mark International Women’s Day and she prepares for her swearing on March 11, they should be attuned to her desire to empower every woman in Kenya.
Believe in Yourself
She says for her to rise to her position, self confidence has been the basis for her success.
"My message to women is that first and foremost you have to believe in yourself; your ability to perform before you start reaching out, there is so much potential in each and every woman. Just bring out your potential because it’s there within you," she advises.
And if you think it is affirmative action that got her to where she is you are wrong.
"Mine was not affirmative action," she says.
Lady Justice Aluoch joined the Judiciary as a District Magistrate II in 1974.
She was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1993.
By this time word affirmative action was alien to Kenyans. For her, it was an equal playing ground with her male colleagues.
She believes there were hindrances that prevented her from competing equally with men.
"There are times I have felt I could have moved faster like my male colleagues, and I did not move as fast as them because I am a woman,
“For women we have to be vigilant, we are qualified and we are good, but unfortunately sometimes it is something to do with society, so we have to be patient at the same time," she explains.
As much as she is appealing to the government to ensure affirmative action is fully implemented, she reminds every woman that they have to be armed with good qualifications.
"Affirmative action will be enforced but still they will look for qualified women, it doesn’t mean you pick anyone for that position," she says.
She however admits that there is an imbalance in opportunities for women and men and the only way to correct it is through affirmative action.
Lady Justice Aluoch says she was nominated by the government for the ICC job where she faced off with 21 other candidates – 12 of them from Africa.
She was among the six who qualified after getting 100 out of 108 votes.