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Kenya is Poised to Have its First Female Chief Justice

The Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome emerged as the best candidate out of ten applicants for the position. Her selection was announced by Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission on Tuesday, April 27. Her name has been forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for approval, before being submitted to the parliament for vetting. The selection process was very tedious and was aired live on several Kenyan local channels. During her interview, Koome was asked to imagine the challenges she would face if chosen Kenya’s first female Chief Justice, and illustrate how she would manage them. In response, she said: “I believe the challenges are similar whether a male or female CJ. It will be historic for the Commission to nominate a woman for the Office of [the] Chief Justice. Leadership is gender-neutral. It doesn’t require a man or woman. It is skills that will deal with the challenges we face. You need managerial skills because you will be overseeing various things. As a lady, I appreciate that everybody brings something to the table.” She is well known in the civil society movement and was first appointed a High Court judge in 2003. In her past career, she has fiercely defended the rights of women and children. Koome has a Master of Laws in Public International Law from the University of London (2010), a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nairobi (1986) and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law.