Kenya has made great strides in women empowerment

July 16, 2014 1:42 pm
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“We were using the 1882 English Property Act. We became very innovative especially when dealing with divorce cases. From the husband’s lawyers…it was ‘my client brings all the money in the family whereas the wife – the petitioner has made no contribution,’ we started saying child rearing is a contribution and breastfeeding is a contribution,” she says.

“I am very happy that when this Act came into effect. It has a clause on contribution. The clause says: ‘Contribution includes domestic work and management of matrimonial home and among others child care.’ I am happy because the things we used to put in our judgments many years ago have found their way in legislation. We didn’t waste our time and efforts as they found themselves in a piece of legislation,” she says.

Justice Aluoch and Justice Effie Owuor are among women who became lawyers, served as magistrates and judges in the Kenyan courts.

Like a jewel in the crown, Justice Aluoch is not just locally recognised but has her expertise recognised and appreciated internationally.

On March 2009, Justice Aluoch was elected as a judge of the ICC in a hotly contested election in New York.

The judge who is now serving in the ICC trial chamber at The Hague recalls her struggles as a woman to rise to her level.

“I have had a long judicial career, dating over 30 years now. I was a magistrate, judge and now an ICC judge. Promoting women judicial officers in Kenya at the time was slow. We were two women judges in Kenya for such a long time. I didn’t understand why this was so…there was no advertisement of vacant positions where we could apply to. There were no interviews yet promotions took place. When promotions took place they were our male colleagues who got them,” she recalls.

Justice Aluoch is highly qualified with excellent academic qualifications.

She has a Law Degree from the University of Nairobi, a diploma in Legal Studies from the Kenya School of Law and a Masters Degree in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts, University, Medford USA.

Though the promotions took long to come on her way, she was not deterred in developing her personal career.

She has her little success secret of making use of every opportunity.

She did not waste time whining about being left out but used her time to explore ways in which she could make a difference.

“I was not deterred. I used that opportunity to sharpen my skills. I didn’t waste any time, I did not even think about marking time in the High Court, it enabled me to do other things I enjoyed. It is these extra activities that I did that really eventually enabled me to reach the position that I am today,” she asserts.

While she waited for her promotion in the Kenyan judicial system, Aluoch worked with several international organisations where she advocated for children’s and women’s issues.

“I took an opportunity and served in the UN Committee on the Right and Welfare of the Child, I was elected twice in New York and served it for 6 years as a vice chair. I established the African rights of the child. I took the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree,” she explains.

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