Fostering the Tulane connection with women and girls in Kenya

March 17, 2014 8:45 AM

Aidan Smith

Tulane University has a long association with Kenya, from fieldwork in public health, to the discovery of new species of fish, to research on biodiversity. Earlier this year, Sally J. Kenney, executive director of the Newcomb College Institute, became part of the Tulane/Kenya network when she presented her research on women judges to the University of Nairobi law faculty and discussed her latest book, Gender and Justice: Why Women in the Judiciary Really Matter.

Sally J. Kenney meets with colleagues in Kenya

Sally J. Kenney, right, meets with members of the Kenyan Women Judges Association on her recent visit to Nairobi. (Photo by Lillian Arika, KWJA)

“It was a joy to meet the woman serving as dean, professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote, an expert on women and environment,” says Kenney, who also reconnected with a colleague from the Collaborative Research Network on Gender and Judging. The Kenyan Women Judges Association hosted Kenney at the Kenyan Supreme Court, where she lectured and spoke with Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal about legal action to stem violence against women.

Slowly, the Kenyan judiciary has transitioned to include more Africans, Kenney said. In 2010, Kenya’s new constitution included a quota requiring one-third women’s representation, and two women now serve on its seven-member Supreme Court.

The Kenyan women judges were most interested in Kenney’s work on the backlash against women judges because one woman Supreme Court justice and a woman registrar have been removed from office under the new Kenyan constitution.

Kenney’s visit to Kenya was inspired by her work with the Ngong Road Children’s Association, an organization that pays the school fees of Nairobi children living in impoverished communities whose lives are affected by HIV. She sponsors three girls through the group, and is pursuing partnerships with the New Orleans Rotary and the New Orleans Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She visited Kenya first in 2012.

Kenney said she hopes to expand on the work of Tulane faculty who are committed to Kenya to develop service-learning study abroad opportunities on women and development.

“It is inspiring to see so many Kenyan women leading and educating women for leadership.”

Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.

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