In the drylands of Marsabit, my home county in northern Kenya, people have traditionally regarded women as weak and timid. My people are nomadic livestock herders known as “pastoralists.” Livestock are our major asset and men own them, trade them, and handle the money. Women raise the children, cook, and depend on men to make any financial decisions. My reality was quite different. I was raised by a single mother, Khadra, who every day challenged these societal norms and instilled different values in me and my nine siblings. She owned a business, managed the money, saw us through school and even found a way to help many families poorer than ours. She was able to make enough income from her small shop to at least put a roof over our heads.
Strong woman in my life
Seeing this strong woman in my life is how I first started to learn about women’s empowerment. We don’t recognise Father’s Day in my culture. But, I know a bit about the holiday and it makes me think about my role as a father in teaching my children—both my son and daughter—about the empowerment of women. This is important because in Marsabit, people seem to think that being a man and working to empower women are two mutually exclusive concepts. I’m proof that they’re not.
Photo Credit Capital FM