Eve Magazine has put an advert out for their Woman of the Year award and has invited the public to submit names of women of distinction for consideration. In 2005, it appears that it will be a slam-dunk for Wangari Maathai. However, I beg to differ. Wangari was awarded in recognition of her lifetime of work fighting for the environment. But as an MP and Minister, she has not much done recently. She should have been honoured with the Nobel Prize in the early to mid-nineties when she single-handedly saved Uhuru Park and later saved Karura Forest from destruction. Awarding her then would have been much more significant, and energized the Nation the way it did for Myanmar (Burma) in 1991 when Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. In 2004 awarding Wangari appears to be an afterthought.
For sheer courage in the last year, Njeeri Wa Ngugi must be considered – for bringing her husband back from exile, and for her strength after their journey took a horrifying turn. She went public with her story, against all advice that she remain silent, and later identified her attackers and returned from America to testify and pursue a case against them.
But my nominee is Gladwell Otieno of Transparency International. At a time when members of the civic society have been co-opted into government and become willing participants in the NARC, she single-handedly came out and shamed the dozen government anti-graft bodies with her singular crusade against corruption, while counter-checking all moves to silence her. The government has recognized the futility of fighting a woman, and has therefore picked women to battle her – PS Dorothy Angote and First Lady Lucy Kibaki. You can e-mail your suggestions to Eve magazine.