First Lady Margaret Kenyatta today rooted for women and youth empowerment as she presided over the inaugural Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Memorial Lecture at Strathmore University in Nairobi.
The First Lady said she was greatly honoured to officiate at the first memorial lecture that was dominated by issues of health, women and youth empowerment.
She observed that the late Professor Adebisi Babatunde’s vision on women and the youth resonated with her own priorities in accelerating action, advocacy and resources towards addressing the health challenges of women and children.
The First Lady said Kenya has its examples of great women who have boldly reached out into the world and made a significant difference in various areas of socio-economic development.
She cited the late Prof. Wangari Maathai as one of the greatest women who received the coveted Nobel Peace Prize alongside the first African elected female President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
Prof Babatunde was one of Africa’s brilliant scientists, an international diplomat, Pan-Africanist, Philanthropist and founder of the Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Entrepreneurship Institute (ABTEI) at the Strathmore University where the memorial lecture was held.
The distinguished scholar was very particular about women and youth empowerment through entrepreneurial skills. He was also known for championing efforts to advance the health rights of African women and girls, a key focus of the First Lady’s Beyond Zero campaign.
The First Lady said she was happy to join the future business leaders at the memorial lecture and engage them in an inter-generational dialogue.
She said the dialogue will eventually shape the future of Africa because problems facing the continent need collective efforts to be resolved.
“We have health needs that are not effectively being met – a gap that the whole continent needs to pay attention to in order to harness the demographic dividend of our youth in order to uplift the collective economy of our communities,” said the First Lady.
She asked members of ABTEI to focus on issues that continue to pose a challenge to the people and collectively make a commitment to continue with the conversation aimed at transforming the lives of women and children besides transforming Africa through action.
“It is my hope that Dr. Babatunde’s legacy of transformation inspires us all to continue this intergenerational dialogue at continental, national and county level, in our quest for better development outcomes for the most vulnerable in our society,” said the First Lady.
The audience comprised members of the ABTEI and other students from the Strathmore Business School.
During the occasion, the First was among four women who received awards for their distinguished contributions to society.
She received a leadership Award in recognition of her efforts in the transformative Beyond Zero Initiative while Mrs Mohamed received an Award on Excellency in Diplomacy.
Others who spoke at the event included Education Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed and Mrs Nardos Bekele Thomas who represented the Babatunde family and also read a message from Ms Sirleaf Johnson.
The rest were the chairman of the ABTEI Board of Trustees, Dr. Edward Simbili, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) CEO Ms Carole Kariuki, the Dean of Strathmore Business School Dr. George Njenga and Bomet Governor Dr. Joyce Laboso.