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Jackline Koin: A feminist par excellence, scholar, and defender of the girl child

One of the influential voices among women in Kajiado, hers is a story of focus, resilience, and an unending determination to overcome the odds raised against the girl child

By Jonathan Teikan

Jackline Koin is among the few women in Kajiado who have defied all odds to rise through the ranks to senior positions in the county administration.

Prior to her appointment by incumbent Governor Joseph ole Lenku as the County Executive Committee Member for Trade, Culture, Tourism and Wildlife, Ms Koin worked in the teaching profession — a career she pursued with zeal and passion. She worked as a lecturer at the Maasai Mara University.

Her choice of career, she told the Kajiado Star, was greatly influenced by her dream that she would someday see a society free of social injustices and inequalities.

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She exudes confidence that she is well familiar with the unique challenges that the girl child goes through in any patriarchal society — even through her own experiences, having been a victim of attempted forced marriage, for which she had to flee in escape.

She has grown up to see young ladies being forced into early marriages, and some running away from home. Others are discriminated against in favour of the boy child, and generally women are denied their fundamental rights.

The agony of witnessing these vices happen in the full glare of the public, and being seemingly embraced as part of life, fired up in her an ambition to pursue justice and the empowerment of the girl child.

As she learned in her teenage, the realization of her ambition demanded more than mere passion, and called for active engagement — intellectual, financial, and in terms of social influence.

For this cause, she remained determined and objective in her studies, business ventures, and participation in social affairs.

In her quest to build her capacity to effectively and efficiently execute her long-held ambition, she attended Kampala International University for her Bachelor of Education studies and upon completion, further enrolled for her master’s degree in Education Planning and Administration at Kenyatta University.

Her early testing of the waters attracted both admiration and scoff in equal measure. She fondly narrates of an experience with a group ranch of about a thousand members, whom she met as they went about the business of subdividing the land among themselves. To her dismay, “there was not a single lady – not even a widow.”

Today she is a proud woman, and her tireless efforts to engage with members of the group ranch to involve their spouses in the registration process of their land have finally borne fruit.

Her continuous involvement in matters of a similar nature saw her appointed to the County Land Management Board, a devolved unit of the National Land Commission (NLC), whose main functions, according to existing land policy, is “promoting equitable access to land, conservation of cultural sites, and protecting minority land rights.”

She noted that in every land conflict, it is the women — and to a greater extent widows — who are the most affected.

Consequently, at the board, she spearheaded the government’s effort to protect the rights of widows, widowers, and divorcees through the enactment of a law on co-ownership of matrimonial property, and provision for joint spousal consent to land disposal.

In her capacity as the minister for trade, she purposes to empower, among other groups, rural women, by structuring their procurement processes, providing extension support, quality inputs and finance.

Her ministry is also coming up with a comprehensive approach that seeks to leverage women’s competitiveness both at the local and international market, especially in beading, noting that “beadwork is central to women’s economic welfare in the county.”

To promote the industry, her ministry has embarked on creating awareness and ownership on the cultural and economic value of the bead.

“My ministry acknowledges the vast potential in the bead industry, and I will do all in my capacity to ensure that we reap maximum benefits from this industry” she said.

“In partnership with other stakeholders, for example Ushanga Kenya Initiative, we will promote beadwork both locally and in the international market,” she added.

In 2009, Ms Koin was actively involved in lobbing for the new constitution. In the company of several other women leaders, they traversed the then Kajiado District, rallying women to approve the new constitution.

What were they foreseeing? Top on the list are the gains that women could reap from the two-thirds rule as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya (2010).

“The Constitution is here with us, let the women of worth rise to the occasion and bring the long-awaited development to the people now that they have the opportunity,” she challenges other women leaders.

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