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WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: Shifting your mind to the extraordinary

This speech was originally delivered during the launch of the reports on Women in Law and Leadership in the Kenyan Bar, Bench and Legal Academy on January 31st, 2023.

Ms. Faith Odhiambo delivering this speech during the Report Launch

"Becoming a leader involves much more than being put in a leadership role, acquiring new skills, and adapting one’s style to the requirements of that role. It involves a fundamental identity shift. "

Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers by Herminia Ibarra, Robin J. Ely, and Deborah M. Kolb (Harvard Business Review)

When seeking to leverage our power to achieve important goals, we usually work on our communication, strategic thinking, and other relevant skill sets. These skills are vitally important but not sufficient to unlock the full potential of women in leadership. High performance is enabled by two other attributes: your mindset and your reputation.

There are several fragile barriers to women rising in law and leadership in our legal profession in Kenya. While some may be deemed as excuses, the reality remains that they are since termed as ‘unconscious biases’ or ‘excuses’.

While the report being launched today will highlight some of the challenges faced by women in law in this country, we who are privileged to be in this room should take into stock and shift our mindset on what to do next. While we have made tremendous strides in bridging the gap of women rising in the ranks in academia, the legal profession and politics, the work ahead is still tremendous. Daunting indeed, but not impossible.

Our mothers, sisters, and mentors broke the barriers, but we must expand and stretch the spaces that limit our potential. COVID-19 was a wake-up call to live in extraordinary times. The world as we know it is changing; More women are being elected as Presidents and Prime Ministers globally, seeing more stretching barriers attending parliament with their babies.

In our background, we have a triple win with the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Chief Registrar of the Judiciary being women. We had more women governors, more women elected to parliament, and women rising in academia. In every sphere in which we find ourselves, we must create our unique identity space and see ourselves as the disruptive cell in this legal mainframe.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. - Mother Teresa

I end by saying: I celebrate the leaders I see here today, and may you seek to be extraordinary so that you will create ripples in the legal fraternity.

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