Women in Power: Martha Karua

Political figure from Kenya, Martha Karua. She is a former, long-serving representative for Kenya’s Gichugu Constituency and a High Court advocate. Prior to her resignation from that role in April 2009, she served as Minister of Justice. She has persistently worked for the advancement of democracy and the defense of women’s rights.

Karua, after Charity Ngilu and Wangari Maathai in the 1997 elections, was the third woman to compete for the highest position when she did so in 2013 on the Narc-Kenya ticket. She finished the race in sixth place. She was chosen to run for deputy president when Raila Odinga nominated her as his running mate in the general election of Kenya in 2022.

From 1977 to 1980, she attended the University of Nairobi to study law. She studied at the Kenya School of Law from 1980 to 1981.

Following graduation, Karua served as a magistrate from 1981 to 1987 in a number of courts, including those in Makadara, Nakuru, and Kibera, where he was praised for his keen judgment.

She left to open her own legal practice in 1987, which she ran until 2002 under the name Martha Karua & Co. Advocates. She protected a number of human rights advocates at the danger of being put on the Moi government’s blacklist. Her work improved family law, particularly with relation to marital assets.

Karua received recognition from Human Rights Watch in 1991.

She received an award from the Federation of Kenyan Women Lawyers (FIDA) in December 1995 for furthering the rights of women.

She received two awards in 1999: the Legal Practitioners Due Diligence Award from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the 1999 Kenya Jurist of the Year award from the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists. 

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