Transformation in the institution of the first lady in kenya; 1963 – 2015
Ngaruiya, Kariuki Amos
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This work examined the transformation of the role of Kenyan First Ladies since independence. Although the First Ladies‟ roles have not been codified or officially defined, First Ladies have played significant roles in the socio-economic and political history of Kenya. They have been actively involved in governance since independence in 1964. Besides, they have contributed in the liberation of women from the manacles of male dominance by ensuring that they are integrated in the social, political and economic development of their societies. In spite of these significant roles played by the institution of first lady, scholars have not given them adequate attention. This study examined the origin and development of the institution of First Lady not only in Kenya but also across the globe and the extent of their influence on their husbands‟ administration. The study was guided by the following objectives: to analyse the emergence of the First Lady office in Kenya from 1963-1978, to examine the extent to which the existence of the First Lady office had changed during the Moi regime from 1978-2002, to investigate how the Kibaki regime had re-invigorated the participation and presence of the First Lady institution in the public domain from 2002-2013 and how the Uhuru government had transformed the role of the First Lady in Kenya from 2013-2015. The significance of this study was embedded in the fact that First Ladies play a critical role in the society by transforming it socially, economically and politically. The research identified and examined various pet projects initiated by the First Ladies. It also examined the level of Kenyan First Ladies in the promotion of peace and the fight against deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, rehabilitation of children suffering from malnutrition and prevention of maternal and child mortality. The study was guided by the femocratic theory. Femocracy is a democratic female power structure, which claims to exist for the advancement of ordinary women. To achieve this, the study used a historical design because data was obtained by employing the basic techniques in the historical method. The research was conducted mainly in Nairobi County but where necessary the researcher-contacted respondents in other parts of the country, especially those who were close or worked closely with the First Ladies. The data was analysed qualitatively and presented historically. This research departs from others of its kind for it focused mainly on the transformative roles of the First Ladies since independence paying attention on their contribution to the social, economic and political development in the society. It further established that the institution of First Lady has undergone transformation over time since (1963-2015), ranging from that of ceremonial role, transcending to the boundary of influence into the realm of power, thus affecting how government functions and controlling different power points. The study recommends that there be a more structured institution of the First Lady with clear legal framework in the constitution that would help in handling the dynamic challenges affecting our society. The work is also a contribution to women‟s history in the post-colonial period.