J. Jobe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture

The J. Jobe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture supports regular lectures on contemporary issues of global significance. For more than a decade, this fund has brought renowned women from across the globe to lecture and meet with classes. Holders of the lectureship have included well-known “grassroots” leaders in the struggle for human rights and international understanding.

2021 Lecture

Shifting the Center of Gravity: The Women’s Movement and Constitution-Making in Kenya

Keynote speaker: Professor Wanjiku Kabira, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Noon, Monday, March 8, 2021

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Prof. Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira
Professor Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira

Professor Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira is the Leader of the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Hub and the Director of African Women Studies Centre (AWSC), University of Nairobi.  Prof. Kabira is a professor of Literature and a writer, a literary critique, and a gender and policy analyst. She has taught oral literature for many years, carried out field work in many parts of the country and published widely. Her first publication done in 1984 has been translated in many languages and set the pace in the field of oral literature in our schools and in the region. Her latest publication in oral literature was in 2010. It is titled Re-claiming My Dreams. There are many other publications in between. She is also an expert in Eastern Africa and West African Literature where her focus has been on the broad areas of leadership, colonialism, ideology, philosophy of leadership, women in Literature, the role of the people in social transformation, nationalism, change and transformation, corruption, exploitation, among others in addition to theoretical and conceptual issues. She also addresses issues of style, language the writers use and the whole area of literary dis-course in her publications. She specializes in African American, Caribbean literature and Black Aesthetics: This has been her area of expertise for over three decades. She has taught at the undergraduate and post graduate levels and has contributed to the teaching of this course and supervised post graduate students at masters and PhD levels. She has also contributed to the development of literary criticism by reviewing manuscripts for publishers and writers including famous writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

She is also an expert in policy analysis and evidence-based policy advocacy. She has worked with policy makers and civil society organization and brought her academic expertise to the national and regional levels. She has been a gender advisor in IGAD and national parliamentary committees. She has developed research analysis tools such as ABC of gender analysis, people-oriented planning tools, gender analysis frameworks among others. ABC of gender analysis has been particular useful in literary analysis and discourse even in the field of literature. Prof Kabira has published widely in the field of Literature as well as gender and women studies. She has over 100 publications in the form of books, chapters, journal articles and creative writing. One of her most notable books is A Letter to Mariama Ba, which was a response to So Long a Letter, a book written by Mariama Ba. Professor Kabira also has written many books about women and gender issues some of which include: Our Secret Lives; They Have Destroyed the Temple; Celebrating Women’s Resistance; The Oral Artist.

She was a Commissioner and a Vice Chair of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission and has documented the role of women and their gains in her book Time for Harvest: Women and Constitution Making in Kenya – 1992 to 2010. Prof Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira has worked with and has led various women’s organizations in Africa. She has been awarded the national honour of Chief of the Burning Spear and Elder of the Burning Spear.

About the lecture

Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa ’46 established this fund to support an annual public lecture on a contemporary issue of global significance by a distinguished woman in international public life. The lecture is sponsored by the International Division, with current co-sponsors including the Human Rights Program, and Global Legal Studies Center.

Past speakers

2019: Charlotte Bunch, “The Dance of Feminism with Human Rights: Reflections on Three Decades of Global Women’s Human Rights Organizing”
2019: Brigitte Baptiste, “Queering Ecology”
2018: May Sabe Phyu, “Gender Inclusion for Lasting Peace”
2017: Vandana Shiva, “Women Lead the Way: From Violence to Non-Violence, from Greed to Sharing, From Hate to Love”
2015: Renana Jhavala, “Structural Inequalities and Poverty: Organizing for Economic Rights in India”
2014: Jean Geran, “Right to Identity: Child Abandonment, Trafficking, Migration and Protection”
2013: Sahar Elmougy, “Resurgence of the Feminine: Transformation of Egyptian Psyche,”
2012: Fatima Sadiqi, “North African Women’s Rights in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring”
2012: Thulisile Madonsela, “Righting State Wrongs: Enforcing the South African Constitution through the office of the Public Protector”
2010: Luz María de la Mora Sánchez, “Latin America’s New Stature in the Global Economy”
2010: Yakin Ertürk, “Universalizing Women’s Human Rights: The Quest for Gender-Just Peace”