Running for PeaceApril 25, 2008
Through AAUW’s International Fellowships program, we provide financial support to outstanding women from countries around the globe so that they can attain their educational goals and improve the lives of women and girls in their home countries. Karambu Ringera, a 2003–04 International Fellow, is doing just that in her home country of Kenya.
Thanks to AAUW support, Ringera received her doctorate in human communication studies from the University of Denver. In 2003, she founded International Peace Initiatives, an NGO dedicated to supporting African grassroots leaders and movements that mitigate the effects of war, poverty, and disease. That work is even more critical following the violence that erupted late last year in response to the results of the presidential election in Kenya.
In 2007, Ringera ran for parliament in Kenya, vying to represent North Imenti, a constituency that has never had a woman representative and, before that election, had never even had a woman run for the office. As a pioneer, Ringera faced enormous challenges, including threats of violence and assault from those angry that a woman would even consider seeking office. Out of a field of 16 candidates, she finished in sixth place, and she vows to continue to fight in future elections.
Many hurdles must be overcome for women in Kenya to achieve equity, and Ringera is doing all she can to make that dream a reality. Whether reaching out to women living in refugee camps or bringing international attention to the current political crisis, she is making a difference. While visiting the U.S. recently, Ringera served as the keynote speaker at a “peace salon” convened by Peace X Peace in Washington, D.C. She also spoke at an event sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Yale University to discuss the role of female leadership in the Kenyan government.
While visiting the AAUW national office, Ringera talked about the importance of girl’s education and her role in mentoring young women. She told us, “When I was campaigning, everywhere I went I would tell the young girls, I am doing this for you, I am doing this for you.”