Yesterday the US Embassy held an event to commemorate Women’s history Month and some of the achievement of Kenyan women. In attendance were women from various sectors of Kenyan society including artists, musicians, civil society, dignitaries, and female executives.
Ambassador Godec welcomed the women saying that the US Embassy to Kenya was proud to celebrate the phenomenal women from Kenya and around the world. He said “These women come from all walks of life and are exceptional for different reasons. They are making countless contributions to building a better world, and doing so with wisdom, energy, compassion, and grace.”
Some of the phenomenal women present who talked included Zohra Baraka of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, Ruth Knaust of My Dress My Choice which is now known as Her Voice. The Nairobi Muslim Academy’s Choir composed of 15 talented young women also performed. Atemi Oyungu had all the women dancing after all the speeches and performances. Three Kenyan artists: Emily Odongo, Wambui Kamiru and Mary Ogembo also exhibited their work. Poetess Terry Wambui also did a dramatic recital of “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou.
Ambassador Godec said that Maya was a phenomenal woman who was exceptional for so many reasons including being a survivor of sexual assault, being a single patent, overcoming poverty and racial segregation and discrimination. She went on to become one of the finest writers of the 20th century. Who when asked about her life goals Maya said “My mission is not merely to survive but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Ambassador Godec said that it was an event that celebrated all of the women who were present, who all had an amazing story to tell and have had an amazing journey. He urged the female guests to share their stories as they networked at the event. He also reflected on the theme of International Women’s Day for 2015 which was “Making it Happen.” He said that in Kenya “in Kenya and across the world, women are making it happen. In every area – in business, in politics, in art, in activism – women are making great strides.”
Ambassador Godec mentioned Lupita who a year ago who reminded us “no matter who you are or where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” He said that it is true, “that when women are free to dream and to achieve, everyone prospers. In business, women now lead some of the most important and advanced companies in the world, including Ginni Rometty at IBM and MarillynHewson at Lockheed Martin. In medicine, since 2008 four Nobel Prizes have been awarded to women, from Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who helped to discover HIV, to Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, who uncovered fundamental processes in human genetics. By themselves, these three women have changed the lives of millions of people for the better, and countless more will benefit from their work in future.
“And, of course, when discussing the Nobel Prize, I can’t fail to mention the extraordinary Wangari Maathai. We owe Wangari so very much for her work in conservation and, far more broadly, for her leadership in building peace. So, tonight we celebrate women, their accomplishments, and contributions across history,” Ambassador Godec added.
Ambassador Godec said that even as we celebrate there are things we need to remember. “But, as we do so, we should also remember that the work of ensuring equality and equal treatment for women is not yet done. Still, today, violence against women continues and is widespread in far too many places. Female genital mutilation remains a serious, deadly, and all too pervasive problem. Too many girls are denied education, forced into early marriages, or held in virtual servitude. And, too many women are still denied the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, or even the opportunity to work at all. This must stop. This must stop now. For the women and girls, first and foremost, But also for all of us. For, as Secretary of State Kerry said, no country can get ahead leaving half its people behind.”
Ambassador Godec asked the guests that as they celebrate they should also recommit themselves to the challenge of ensuring equal rights and treatment for women. The dream of equality and equal treatment can become a reality for everybody.