Hon. Martha Karua was the first Chairperson of The League of Kenya Women Voters. She studied law at the University of Nairobi from 1977 to 1980. Between 1980 and 1981 she was enrolled at the Kenya School of Law for the statutory post graduate law course that is a prerequisite to admission to the Kenyan roll of advocates and licensing to practice law in Kenya. She then joined the public service, and worked as a magistrate from 1981 to 1987. From 1987 to 2002 she worked in private practice as an advocate.
She worked in the Judiciary as a District Magistrate rising to a Senior Resident Magistrate at the time of exit in 1987. During this period, she was in charge of Makadara Law Courts from 1984 to 1985 and Kibera Law Courts from 1986 to 1987 when she left to start her own law firm. In 1987 Martha Karua formed Martha Karua & Co. Advocates which she operated till the year 2002. While in practice, Karua presented many pro bono cases notable among them the treason trial of Koigi Wamwere and where she represented the late Hon. Mirugi Kariuki.
She immensely contributed to the development of family law and especially the distribution of matrimonial property as well as constitutional and administrative law.
Karua was a member of the opposition political movements that successfully agitated for the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in Kenya in the early 1990s. Kenya was at the time under the authoritarian rule of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the only legally recognized political party in Kenya and which was led by president Daniel arap Moi.
Martha Karua joined Kenneth Matiba’s Ford-Asili party but lost the party nomination ticket to the wealthy and influential former Head of Public Service Geoffrey Kareithi. She was then offered a ticket and support by the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) elders who wanted a clean break from the Kareithi – Nahashon Njuno rivalry. Karua won the 1992 general election to become the MP for Gichugu constituency and the first woman lawyer to be popularly elected to Parliament. She was also appointed as the party’s legal affairs secretary between 1992 and 1997.
In 1998, Karua declined the position of Shadow Minister for Culture and Social Services which conflicted with her position of National Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (an elected office) that made her the official spokesperson on legal matters of the party. She opted to resign her position as the National Secretary.
In 2001, when the Constitutional Review Bill was laid before the House, the entire Opposition with the exception of Karua walked out of Parliament. The Bill had been rejected by the Opposition as well as Civil Society but Karua was of the view that as elected representatives, instead of walking out, it would be more prudent to remain in Parliament and put the objections on record. She therefore chose to remain in the Parliament and her objections to the Bill were duly recorded in the Hansard.
Later she was among those who formed the political coalition NARC that won the 2003 General Election in Kenya and ended KANU’s nearly four decades of leadership in Kenya’s politics.
2013 Presidential Bid
Martha Karua contested in the running for the presidency in 2013. She came in sixth with 43,881 votes.
Awards and Recognition
In 1991 Karua was recognized by Human Rights Watch as a human rights monitor.
In December 1995 she was awarded by the Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA) for advancing the cause of women.
In 1999 the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists awarded her the 1999 Kenya Jurist of the Year and in the same year same month, the law society of Kenya (LSK) awarded her the Legal Practitioners Due Diligence Award.
Hon. Alice Muthoni Wahome is the current Chairperson of The League of Kenya Women Voters. She was elected into the office as Chairperson after serving as a Director for over five years. She holds an LLB. University of Nairobi (1980 – 1984), Dip. Law Kenya School of Law (1984 – 1985) and Diploma Teaching and Training 2003. In March 2013, Hon. Alice Wahome was elected as the Member of Parliament for Kandara Constituency as one of only sixteen female legislators elected from 290 dual gender constituencies in the country.
Hon. Alice Wahome has previously served as a Board Member of Kenya League of Women Voters where she has assisted in voter and civic education targeted at enhancing awareness in the electoral process, combating violence during elections, need to vote, how to vote, and right to vote, and involving participation of the people in the political process as part of democratization. Hon. Alice has wide experience in gender awareness advocacy, training, and teaching education in women rights and human rights. She served in the Chief Justice Committee that was instrumental in the establishment of the Family Court in Kenya. Alice has been engaged in the research, drafting and advocacy work of the Equality Bill, Family Protection (Domestic Violence) Bill and Affirmative Action Bill.
During her tenure as Council member Law Society of Kenya and Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Hon. Alice Wahome acquired vital and wide knowledge and experience in Regional and International Bar linkages and inter-twining for professional and academic development. During this period Alice has attended and presented papers on Women Rights, Customary Law, Gender and Development, Equity and Justice in various regional and international conferences in particular in Canada, Uganda, Namibia and United States and of particular mention Beijing + 2000 as an accredited delegate.
In addition, Hon. Alice Wahome is a leading Advocate in Nairobi and Senior Managing Partner in Wahome & Gichohi Advocates; a successful legal firm with a capacity of 10 staff members all highly qualified in their fields. In her 18 years of legal experience Hon. Alice has handled precedent setting Criminal and Civil Cases some of which have attracted major public interest both nationally and internationally. She has undertaken legal litigation and setting precedent cases in Family Law up to the Kenya Court of Appeal. Her professional career commenced at Attorney General Chambers as a state Counsel in Civil Litigation Department.
Hon. Alice has served as an Elected Council Member of the Law Society of Kenya, which is a leading Bar Association in the East African region. She has served as an Elected Vice-Chairperson of FIDA Kenya and engaged in policy and decision-making. FIDA Kenya is an internationally and nationally recognized women lawyers’ body, which upholds the rule Law, promotion of Women Rights and Human rights. In addition, Hon. Alice Wahome has held senior positions in various National Boards and community development committees including the following:
Director, Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) 2003-2006
Vice Chairperson, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya 1999-2000
Council Member of The Law Society of Kenya (LSK)1999-2000
Committee Member of the Family Court in Kenya 2000-2001
Director Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD -Kenya) 2006 – 2010
Vice-Chairperson, Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD – Kenya) 2011-2013
Co-Founder, National Women Steering Committee ( NWSC)
Member, Kenya Women Political Alliance
Secretary, Maragua Professionals and Business People Forum