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Leaders mourn women rights campaigner Kiano

President Uhuru Kenyatta   Friday led Kenyans in paying tribute to the former chairperson of Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation (MYWO) Jane Kiano who died on Thursday.

Kiano succumbed to lung cancer at the Nairobi Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment. She was 74. Family spokesperson Irungu Houghton said she died at 10.25pm after a long battle with the chronic disease. She will be cremated Saturday at the Kariokor crematorium in Nairobi according to her will.

“She battled bravely against lung cancer and we are very proud of her…May her legacy continue to inspire young women and girls from all corners of this country. We are sure that she is now walking with angels,” said a statement released by the family.

President Uhuru hailed Kiano for advocating for the rights and prosperity of women in the country. “I am saddened with the news of passing on of Kiano. She played an important role in advancing women rights & justice in the country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family & friends. May her soul Rest in Peace,” the head of State tweeted.Retired President Daniel arap Moi under whose regime Kiano served, paid tribute to the deceased as a trailblazer who shone the light for women.

“The leadership of Kiano at Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation for many years, was outstanding and proof that women were capable of sound leadership,” he said in a statement.

Retired President Mwai Kibaki described the late Mrs Kiano as an energetic leader, who gave a lot of time and thought to causes intended to benefit others.

“Like her late husband, Dr Gikonyo Kiano, who was at one time a contemporary leader in public service, Jane distinguished herself as a champion and leader of social transformation,” the former president said in his statement.

Kibaki said Kiano, while at MYWO, she became the personification of women empowerment in Kenya.Deputy President William Ruto described Kiano as an exceptional leader and a gallant campaigner of women rights and empowerment.

“She was a proponent of gender equality, a strong voice for girls’ education and a prominent advocate of women’s mobilisation to build sustainable livelihoods and safeguard their welfare. Her indomitable spirit and energy transformed lives and gave hope to many,” he said.

Born in Tumu Tumu, Nyeri, Mrs Kiano trained as a teacher before relocating to Nairobi. She gave 40 years of her life to voluntary public service and leadership in the women’s movement serving in various national and international leadership positions.

Her tenure that spanned 13 year, between 971 and 1984 and was recently serving as the organisation’s patron alongside Mama Ngina Kenyatta.

She also served as a commissioner in the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), a body established to foster peace and cohesion in Kenya following the 2007/8 post-election violence.

Kiano has served in various positions in MYWO and in the National Council of Women of Kenya Chairperson from1999 to 2003.

She was MYWO national chairperson 1971–1984 abd until her death, she was the organisation’s patron. During her time as MYWO chairperson, she pushed for the construction of Maendeleo House in Nairobi. Kiano is also one of the founder members of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

– SETH ONYANGO

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