Kenya appoints first woman air force head

Kenya’s President William Ruto on Thursday appointed Maj Gen Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed as the first female commander of the air force.

This move follows the tragic helicopter crash last month, which claimed the lives of the military chief and others, prompting the need for new leadership.

Alongside Maj Gen Ahmed, other leaders were appointed, including a new head of the armed forces. Gen Charles Kahariri was promoted to fill the vacant position left by the late military chief.

Maj Gen Ahmed’s journey to this prestigious role has shattered gender barriers throughout her career, becoming the first woman to achieve the ranks of brigadier and major general in a military leadership dominated by men.

Her military career began in 1983 when she joined the Women Service Corps, a separate entity from the main military services, focusing on support duties such as administration, logistics, medical, and communication. With the disbandment of the unit in 1999, women were integrated into the main military services, opening up more opportunities for them to excel.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, during Maj Gen Ahmed’s promotion to major general in 2018, emphasized her role as a positive role model for women in the country. He encouraged her to prove that there are no limits for women in any profession.

Maj Gen Ahmed’s determination to succeed despite discouragement from some family members reflects her resilience and commitment to making a difference. Inspired by her uncle’s military career, she embraced the values of discipline and hard work that shaped her life from an early age.

Her rise through the ranks serves as a testament to the progress towards gender equality in the armed forces, setting an inspiring example for women across the nation.

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