Juliet Owitti
Posted July 28, 2015 from Kenya


“Around the world, there is a tradition of repressing women and treating them differently and not giving the same opportunities; husbands beating their wives and children not being sent to school; treating women and girls as second class citizens - those are bad traditions, they need to change, and they are holding you back. There is no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence. There is no reason young girls should suffer Female Genital Mutilation. ” said Barack Obama on 26th July, 2015 when addressing Kenyans at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.

He went ahead and stressed that something being a tradition, doesn't necessarily make it right, what was there a long time ago has no place in a civilized society that we are in now. I couldn't help but nod to his captivating remarks. If we could look and treat women with utmost respect and dignity then, we could be in a better place.

His remarks took me back to the likes of Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu who fought for women's right; they protested against women carrying pass-book as part of the pass laws in South Africa. The same women raised their children, two and five children respectively, with no regular source of income when their husbands were in prison for more than 20 years. They proved that women too can raise a family, they can stand on their own too when need arises, they too can be leaders not just in parliament, earning huge money but leaders in their homes. I mean raising up a child is a 24/7 job with no pay no leave!

Several years down the line we still have people not respecting women; I'll point out a few cases touching on that;

In the month of November 2014, My dress My Choice Campaign was held in the streets of Nairobi where women were protesting against vicious attacks on them following an event on the seventeenth of the same month when a woman was stripped naked by a bunch of uncivilized men. Women were demanding respect and dignity to them. Thousands of women who watched the clip of the woman being stripped felt violated. Many would be heard saying the woman was provocatively dressed thus stripped but the question is, if it were your wife, sister, mother would you do that? Would you say that? There was and there is still no excuse for stripping her. That is sexual assault.

About eight years ago during the Post-election violence in Kenya a woman by the name Nancy was allegedly gang raped in front of her husband and four year old child. Nancy was among the many who were raped, some decided to seek justice others didn't. Do we expect her to view a man the same way she did? What about her child who witnessed the torment?

Again, mid this month, a woman by the name Laura Imali from Kisumu County, Kenya was turned into a sex slave by a white man from USA whom she thought she fell in love with on an online dating site. What was done to her by the the white man accompanied by his friend, was nothing close to a human act, barbaric, unbelievable...It's so sad that people can turn a woman into a sex slave. This is a woman, the mother of nature, somebody's daughter or sister, could become a mother, the greatest gift a child could have. Don't you think she will be haunted by this?

Linda Wanjiku, a lawyer was allegedly shot dead by her husband very early in the morning after a night out with her girlfriends. It was said she complained of problems in her marriage and her husband physically abusing her. For the spouse to get to the point of firing a gun at her, then he must have been giving her thorough beatings with no intent of killing her. Thus, the lawyer lost her life in the hands of a man who was her husband, who knows she could have had a promising future as a lawyer?

It is so sad that even in the 21st century a woman may not go to work or school just because their culture or spouses said so, a woman may suffer silently from dog beatings from the spouse at home, a woman may undergo emotional torture following a rape ordeal, a woman is asked to sit back and watch whenever she wanted to say something, a woman may not confidently walk in the streets in whatever they felt comfortable wearing, a woman may say let 'him' pay all the bills I can't ( by the way, who said you can not? ), a woman may have her opinion discounted, a woman may not attend classes just because of lack of sanitary towels,,,,it is in deed very sad. Going against the woman's right is going against the Human rights too.

Thanks to the likes of Michelle Obama (First Lady, USA), Margaret Kenyatta (Founder of Beyond Zero Campaign), Graca Machel (An international advocate for women's and children's rights), Chimamanda Adichie (African author), Janet Mbugua (Founder of Inua Dada Foundation) and Njoki Ndungu ( Introduced new laws on protecting Women rights in Kenya, 2010) among others who are stepping out to help other women see their worth as they believe in women empowerment. I am equally empowered by them.

I believe we are not second class citizens, we too need to take our rightful places, we too are the inherent of Soweto students and women of Pretoria who took a risk and protested, fought, shed blood and endured beatings to get the freedom and equality they deserved to study courses of their preference and to make all challenges and opportunities become possibilities.



Comments 2

Log in or register to post comments
Lisa Anderson
Jul 29, 2015
Jul 29, 2015

Dear Juliet,

Your awareness of the injustices that plague women around the world is powerful. These examples are heartbreaking, but spur us to action in pursuing empowerment and equality.

I love your line: "Going against the woman's right is going against the Human rights too." It's so important to acknowledge our foremothers and all that they have done to create opportunities and possibilities for future generations of women.

Thank you for sharing!

Warm regards,


Juliet Owitti
Jul 30, 2015
Jul 30, 2015

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for reading and true we need to spur to action in pursuing epowerment and equality, it starts with me...