The University of Nairobi 2021 Research Week has featured prolific and expert scholars who have presented their work and arguments on various topics. Among this line-up of presenters, was the Chair of the Department, Amb. Prof Maria Nzomo, who was tasked with setting the agenda for the 4th Conference on Status of African Women - Women’s Economic Empowerment: Theory and Practise.

With hard-hitting statistics, Prof. Maria Nzomo did not mince her words when examining the low global status of women despite the hard work and effort placed on “women empowerment”. She confronted the phrase “women are the backbone of the society”, which has been used to justify the exploitation of women with little to no accolades.

She further challenged the definition of “empowerment” recognizing the need for research to look beyond the straight jacket definition that has always been provided and encouraged the inclusion of the diverse identities that women occupy. At the end of her presentation, Prof. Nzomo echoed the sentiments of the university Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama, by bringing to question the visibility of women in education, governance, and other non-traditional spaces.

Download the whole speech here.