Kenya’s leading pioneer gender activist and leader Mama Jane Kiano is dead, she is fondly remembered as the Former Maendeleo Ya Wanawake chairperson.
Mrs Kiano was 74 and passed away on Thursday night at the Nairobi Hospital, she has been battling with cancer.
“She battled bravely against lung cancer and we are very proud of her. She died at 10.30,” family representative Irungu Houghton said in a statement.
Mrs Kiano was the widow of Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano, former Cabinet minister and Kenya’s first PhD holder.
She was born in Tumu Tumu, Nyeri and trained as a teacher before switching to National women leadership during the era of both president Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi.
She served as the national chairperson of the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization between 1971–1984.
Between 1999 and 2003 she served as chairperson of National Council of Women Of Kenya. She also served as a committee member of Child Welfare Society of Kenya.
“She also served as Alliance Francaise President (1982-2013) and was Nairobi City Commission Deputy Chairperson (1988–1992),” the family statement said.
More recently, she was a member of the Council of Eminent Persons of Murang’a and a founding Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) between 2009-2013.
She was decorated for her service with Legion d’ Honneur du France in 2014, Freedom of the Nairobi City in 2006, Elder of the Burning Spear for being an outstanding Woman Leader among others.
Recently, she was recognised as a trailblazer by President Uhuru Kenyatta and feted with the First Class Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear Award.
She was honoured among other outstanding women, namely: former politicians Phoebe Asiyo and Grace Onyango, nominated Senator Beth Mugo and Ida Odinga, the wife of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila.