December 4, 2023

Navigating the Interplay of Politics and Societal Expectations in Women’s Advancement within the Health Sector

Judith Adhiambo Amolo

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In the intricate dance between politics, societal expectations, and the pursuit of gender equality, the narrative of women in the health sector emerges as a compelling tale of resilience and transformation.

On Wednesday, 28th November 2023, Strathmore University Business School (SBS) in partnership with the Kenya Healthcare Federation hosted their third Focus Group Discussion in Nakuru County.  The focus group discussions are encompassed under the overarching framework of the Driving Country Level Change – Women in Healthcare Leadership in Kenya Project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These discussions endeavor to embody a comprehensive voice, elucidating the intricate challenges and pivotal catalysts that intricately mold the professional trajectories of women within the healthcare domain of Kenya. Distinguished female leaders hailing from the public health sector in Nakuru, and its surrounding locales graced the occasion with their presence.

Dr. Elizabeth Kiptoo, Director of Public Health in Nakuru County, delivered an inaugural address articulating the county’s steadfast dedication to the integration of gender mainstreaming initiatives within the intricate fabric of its public health sector. Lilian Nandili, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at KHF moderated the event; adeptly guiding and facilitating the proceedings of the focus group.

Dr. Elizabeth Muthuma, faculty member at SBS, commenced the discourse by introducing the Women in Health Leadership Project, articulating its profound significance in catalyzing transformative shifts within the healthcare landscape of Kenya, while expounding upon the nuanced goals that underpin the essence of this initiative.

The discussions delved into the profound ways in which political landscapes and societal expectations have shaped the progression of women in healthcare, unraveling both challenges and opportunities for a more inclusive and equitable future. A synthesis of resonances emanating from the deliberations underscored that as we dissect the multifaceted impact of Kenyan politics and societal norms on women in the health sector, it becomes evident that their journey is both a testament to their resilience and a call to action for systemic change. By understanding and addressing the intersection of politics and gender dynamics, Kenya can forge a healthcare landscape that not only reflects the diverse needs of its population but also catalyzes the unparalleled potential of women in driving progress and innovation within the sector.

The entwined forces of politics and societal expectations have cast a formidable shadow on the progression of women in the health sector. The intricate play between political decisions and deeply ingrained norms has not only shaped the career trajectories of women but has also influenced the very fabric of healthcare systems. To truly unlock the full potential of the health sector, it is imperative that we dismantle restrictive expectations, challenge biased policies, and foster an environment where the contributions of women are not only recognized but celebrated. By forging a path that transcends political and societal constraints, we pave the way for a healthcare landscape that thrives on diversity, equality, and the boundless capabilities of every individual, irrespective of gender.

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