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The rise of Martha Karua

The rise of Martha Karua

By Correspondent

Martha Karua (pictured) prides herself as one of the few politicians who have been in public service for long and has served in all three branches of government.

On Monday, May 16, 2022, Karua was appointed as the running mate for Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga. This makes her one of the few candidates likely to become the second Deputy President of Kenya.

Apart from her service in government, Karua has stood herself as a human rights defender and reform champion.

Here are the senior most positions she has ever held in government;

1. Magistrate

A lawyer by profession, Karua started her law career in 1981 as a magistrate, before venturing into private practice as founding partner of Martha Karua & Co. Advocates. In 2020, Karua was conferred with the rank of Senior Counsel.

She is renowned for her advocacy on women’s rights and also actively represented pro bono victims of politically instigated and sensitive cases among them the Koigi Wamwere treason trial where she represented the late lawyer and assistant minister Mirugi Kariuki.

2. Member of Parliament

For two decades from 1992 to 2013, she served as Member of Parliament (MP), representing Gichugu Constituency in Kirinyaga, winning four consecutive elections. She was the first woman elected as an MP in Gichugu constituency paving the way for the election of women in Kirinyaga.

Between 2009 and 2013, she was nominated by Parliament to be a member of the select committee on constitutional review.

She was also among the masterminds of the Equalisation Fund, which is meant to redress the existing marginalisation of development in the country.

In 1997, she organised and provided leadership at the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG). This group facilitated negotiations between the government and opposition leading to enactment of necessary legal and constitutional reforms before the December 1997 General Election.

In 1998, Karua was nominated by Inter-Parties Parliamentary Committee (IPPC) to be a joint secretary of the drafting committee that oversaw the drafting and enactment of an all-inclusive Constitution of Kenya Review Act 1998.

She was also nominated by Parliament as a member of the select committee on anti-corruption mandated inter alia to hold public hearings and make recommendations on a legal framework to fight corruption. This committee’s recommendation laid the foundation for the enactment of The Kenya Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

3. Minister

For more than six years, Martha served as a Minister in the Government of Kenya in charge of various portfolios.

Karua served as Minister for Water between 2003 and 2005 and initiated the water sector reforms that devolved the management of water service leading to improved services.

Long before devolution, she guided inter-ministerial engagements in the government to ensure decentralisation of resources to the grassroots.

At the regional level, she worked with all the Ministers of the Nile Basin to affirm the rights of all countries in the region to access the Nile Waters.

Between 2005 and 2009, she was Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, under whose watch the Kenyan new constitution was promulgated.

Apart from the three positions that she held in the three arms of the government, Karua is a founder member and the first chair of the League of Women Voters that advocates the participation and inclusion of women in leadership.

The League grew to become the leading voice for women’s inclusion in politics and leadership.

She was also elected council member of Law Society of Kenya between 1989 and 1992, leading the calls for reforms in the Judiciary.

Karua was also elected council member of Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers between 1990 and 1994.

She was also elected as council member of FIDA – Kenya, a non-governmental organisation in Kenya that focuses on advocacy especially promotion and defence of women’s, human rights and provides free legal services for indigent women.


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