Opening speech for the graduation ceremony from Josephine Odera, UN Women Governance and Leadership Advisor for UN Women ESARO

His Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the Republic of Kenya, Mr Kelebert Nkomani;

Deputy Vice chancellor of Kenyatta University, Professor Ukumu

Leaders from Zimbabwe, all protocols observed

It gives me great pleasure to be at the closing session of what I know has been a very interesting week. The training has been looking at different personalities, how to accommodate each other and some of other important issues defining women leaders, including obstacles and opportunities. Fundamental to us was what mind-set we come into the process with and how we change that mind-set during the process.

The objective of this workshop was to transform our minds for inclusive leadership and we can all say that we have come somewhere in transforming our minds, otherwise out efforts would have been in vain.

On behalf of the UN Women Regional Director Christine Musisi, let me thank you all for taking your time to participate, your contribution to this training and mostly for the change that you are going to effect when you get back home. We expect to hear from you and to hear about the change you are going to effect. I am sure our ambassador and deputy chancellor are expecting to hear about this transformative leadership, and the women for Zimbabwe will surely not let us down as we aspire to make this continental difference for our benefit and for the benefit of those generations who will come after us. I wish you all a safe journey and like a true African, please greet your Constituencies for us and tell them there are people here wishing Zimbabwe the best. We look up to you to be the change agents.

Speech from the Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University – Professor Okumu

His Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the Republic of Kenya, Mr Kelebert Nkomani, all protocols observed:

I stand on behalf of the Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Madam Olivier Mugenda who has travelled and cannot be with us today.  Please accept her apologies, she left me with some remarks to share with you.

May I take this opportunity to welcome you to Kenyatta and to this ceremony on transformational leadership for women leaders from the political parties in Zimbabwe.

I thank the Ambassador for finding time to officiate at this important ceremony despite his busy schedule. We are honoured and delighted to always welcome leaders from Zimbabwe for the diverse and unique training that this centre offers.

The subject of transformative leadership is important to Africa as a continent and we are happy for the synergistic transformative learnings the facilitators have offered to further unleash the potential in you as leaders. Training combines theoretical knowledge, skills and high experiential learning which is of benefit to you all.

As I conclude, I wish you all the very best as you will embark on the implementation of your action plans as catalyst of change, and that you will impart the technic and skills to derive a transformative process in your political careers and influence Zimbabwe for development.


First and foremost, allow me to begin by thanking the UN Women Country Representative of Zimbabwe for inviting me to this closing ceremony. This is the second time that I have been invited to a UN Women Country Programme for Zimbabwean Women Parliamentarians here at the African Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership hosted by Kenyatta University. I was here in May 2014 when a similar group of Zimbabwean Women Parliamentarians completed their leadership training programme.

I thank UN Women, through the Regional Director of ESARO, Ms Christine Musisi, for organising and running this very important training programme for our Honourable women Parliamentarians from all the political parties represented in the Parliament of Zimbabwe. I also would like to extend my thanks to the Africa Center of Kenyatta University for hosting this special training programme.

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Women’s participation in political leadership in Zimbabwe has come a long way with women constantly fighting for space in the political and social arena over the years. 2013 is a major milestone in the evolution of women’s participation in political and social leadership in Zimbabwe with the 2013 Constitution stipulating that there should be equal representation in all sectors. The challenge before us is to ensure that the aspirations contained in the 2013 Constitution are translated into action.

Remarkable gains have been made since the promulgation of the 2013 Constitution with women’s representation in Parliament doubling from 17% in the 2008 general elections to 34% in July 2013 elections. Zimbabwe is today one of the more than 30 states worldwide that have increased women’s representation in Parliament to at least 30 percent. It is important to underline that this has been achieved through an electoral quota system.

The training you have received in the last week, Honourable Members, will, I trust, assist you in leading the process towards greater participation of Zimbabwe women not only in Parliament but also in other spheres of life.

I believe some of the strategies that can contribute to addressing the challenges of gender equality are;

Greater advocacy in the promotion of gender issues without making men feel threatened; The development of clear mechanisms of implementation to meet gender Constitutional provisions; Women engaging in cross party platforms for uniting women beyond party lines and rallying them around common agenda; Women seeking leadership positions within parties more aggressively; Women should use their strength in numbers to compel political parties to adhere to the quota provisions; Women to identify allies to help them lobby for the implementations of the quotas; Gender responsive civic and voter education to share information with women and the community at large on the need to have women take up leadership positions; and Capacity building for women to enhance their engagement in public life.

I thank you and wish you safe travels back home.