NAIROBI, KENYA, Mar 23 – Anne Mwangi Mvurya is barely shaken that wanting to be the first female chairperson of University of Nairobi Students Association (UNSA) is an uphill task.
It was during her childhood that Anne realised she was destined to be a leader, she says.
When we met for this interview, I was curious about her boldness to contest for such a male-dominated position where she is contending against six of them at elections set for early April.
“Ever since I was a young child, I have always loved politics and involved myself in the game from time to time, I have been a student leader countable times and I am just left with a small piece of cake to eat. In fact, now that I am the only lady eyeing this position, it makes it even easier for me to win,” she says, as she is equally rapt by her level of confidence.
Twenty-year-old Anne, studying law says the desire to continue to lead reflects that she has made an impact in the lives of women in her school and many others that surround her.
“For me to stand up and say I want to be the next chair, I am sure I must have represented the women well before. They are the ones that I want to continue fighting for however this does not mean I will ignore the boy child,” she commented amid laughter.
Anne takes pride in being an activist and feminist.
She is currently the head of women student’s welfare association, across all University of Nairobi branches and is serving as the head of secretariat University of Nairobi Student’s Association.
If she wins, she will make history to be the first female ever elected as the chairperson of UNSA since the university became independent from the University of East Africa institution in 1970.
“I was a head girl in primary school,” she says. “And in high school at Bahati Girls in Nakuru, I was elected as the head girl again,” she added.
In her first year in campus, she got devastated seeing that ladies lacked proper representation in the student’s body as majority of the people sitting at decision making table were men.
This is what drove her interest to particularly want to have a seat too.
“It is really sad when you walk around and here women have issues and there’s no one to fight for them. You know you hear girl’s lack pads and you think it’s a joke until you get to witness,” she says.
“I personally decided that I will join the conservation and it is better done when with them,” she added.
As we dive keenly to know who Anne is, being the last born in a family of two she spent a lot of time with her father.
At his feet, Anne started getting tips on how the political field runs. Though not a politician, her dad remains eager to understand the bed of politics.
“As always girls are close with their dads and we would watch political news and debates together and later share our opinions. Slowly by slowly my interest grew,” she narrated.
The reality of her calling fully dawned when she led a strike in high school demanding a change in the management.
“Sometimes in high school students go through difficult learning conditions, and when we saw this in Bahati Girls, the leadership had to change,” she said.
Anne says she realized at that moment that God had endowed her with influence because the students listened to her and supported her proposal.
“I was nervous but determined. At first, I thought it was not going to work. I was putting a lot at risk, my reputation, my life. Then I later talked to my fellow prefects to support me and within no minute, we were ready to roll,” says Anne.
It is not difficult to see how she managed this. When she walks into our offices where we are meeting for the interview, her bearing is upright and confident, and she is accompanied by many of her supporters.
She leads them confidently into the room, during which they expressed their confidence in her being the future student leader of the University of Nairobi.
The 20-year-old is determined to continue with the fight despite facing critics from a few students. She says the situation doesn’t affect her but motivates her to fight even better.
“Some men are so bad at critiquing a female. They will abuse your physical structure, your mind and honestly some of the comments are bitter and they can make you quit. I have seen that happen before but I am not going to be one of the quitters, I will persist till the end of this journey,” a confident Irene added.
Anne is a jack of all trades. Her day is always packed and rarely does she get time for herself.
“I start my day by visiting the gym first, then later at 11 I head to Milimani Law Courts where I am doing my internship later on attend classes and at night from midnight till 2am I do my campaigns,” she added.
Anne believes in the power of delegation that will help her if she wins the battle.
“I am going to my 3rd year and I still have to perform well in my studies. I will ensure I delegate duties. I have seven people in my council, four male and three females, “she mentioned.
Anne looks up to Michelle Obama and plans to join national politics in the near future.
“I don’t think politics is that hard. I will have a family in future but I will ensure I stick by the rules and become a governor,” she concluded.
The current voting process in University of Nairobi is done by delegates from the institution’s countrywide campuses.