Musimbi Kanyoros passion to promote the leadership
of young women, is driven by her vision for social change.
The charismatic Kenyan wife and mother of two, holds many
voluntary leadership roles in non-governmental organisations
and is considered an expert in the area of volunteerism.
Kanyoro has been the world general-secretary for the Young
Womens Christian Association for the past seven years.
She recently visited Trinidad and Tobago and took some time
to share her views and experiences with WomanWise. She talked
about, not just her role as a leader, but the role of women
in making other women leaders.
are two strong points of women being in leadership. I see
them as being more prepared to learn and as individuals
who are already managers of families, Kanyoro said,
When we become leaders, many of the issues we care
for are those which affect the society on the ground. Issues
of the well-being of children and of community are really
issues of human dignity. And I think that whether we are
political leaders or media leaders, these are issues that
come with us; they dont drop off when we become leaders.
Kanyoro, who lives in Geneva, Switzerland with her family,
is a recognised public speaker who has sought to empower
women and girls to lead social and economic change around
the world since her appointment at the World YWCA. Her life
of volunteerism began as a child back in Kenya. The YWCA
general-secretary, who comes from a family of seven children,
said her parents treated each of them as individuals.
children, we were involved in many different clubs and camps,
which is what I think helped us to be strong, she
Kanyoro got involved in the YWCA in Kenya as a teen. There,
she came to realise the importance of youth camps because
they taught about leadership. She was one of those who was
given duties and thus learnt at an early age the importance
of being responsibile.
saw what was happening in politics in our country and the
apartheid system in South Africa, which was far away and
this gave us something global. But we were a colonised country,
so it brought that consciousness to us of what was taking
place, not just in Kenya. Those were the things that inspired
me to think of the world beyond me, said Kanyoro.
Her children are also involved in various clubs.
really believe that it is important for young people to
have a social life that involves them in social action beyond
academics, she said.
When she left Kenya and went on to do her graduate studies
in New York, she knew that one day, she would return home.
was important to me to get back home to work, she
Back in Kenya, Kanyoro taught at the university, worked
as a linguistic consultant for the UN, acquired her PhD
in linguistics from the University of Texas in 1980 and
a doctorate in ministry from the San Francisco Theological
Seminary in 1999.
did nothing with the Y for a number of years and when I
returned, it was on the invitation of this position,
Kanyoro, who is also the president of the World Association
of Christian Communication and ISIS Womens International
Cross Cultural Exchange, has made recognised contributions
in the fight against HIV/Aids. She is the co-ordinator of
the 400-member Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians
and is also a member of the international Ecumenical Advocacy
In addition to serving on the International Planning Group
on HIV/Aids and other faith-based organisations, she is
on an advisory panel for Alan Guttmacher Institute which
focuses on protecting new generations from HIV infection.
Kanyoro has written more than 100 articles and nine books
which have been published throughout her career.
Her accomplishments are examples of what women as leaders
can accomplish and her commitment to creating women leaders
is something she plans to continue doing as long as she
is alive and well.