H.E. Halima Abdille Mahmoud, Ambassador of Kenya
By Reaven D’Souza
Ambassador of Kenya H.E. Halima Abdille Mahmoud is a charming young diplomat who comes across as soft spoken and reserved. Even though she is relatively new to the world of diplomacy, the ambassador has quickly made her mark in Kuwait diplomatic circles with her active participation and positive approach. In an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait Managing Editor, Ambassador Mahmoud began by detailing her journey into diplomacy.
“My journey in public life started from my early years at university when I was a student leader. The newly promulgated 2010 Kenyan Constitution had ushered in new opportunities for Kenyan women, youth and marginalized communities, in ensuring equal opportunities, particularly the two-third gender rule in leadership positions. The concept of two-third rule is entrenched through article 81 (b) which states: ‘Not more than two thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender’.
In 201I, I began working with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that focused on issues of good governance and sensitization of citizens on the New Constitution. It was during this period that I developed a passion for politics and served at the Senate from 2013 to 2017. In 2019, I was appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to the State of Kuwait.
In this regard, I would like to add that I have had several mentors who influenced by choice of career. I would especially like to mention the name of Professor Olive Mugenda, who was Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University during my university days. She was an outstanding role model for me as during her tenure at the helm of the university, she exhibited transformational leadership which touched the lives of many Kenyans. This gave me inspiration to fulfill my dream as a positive role model for the youth.Other notable role models include women leadership at the apex of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs such as Ministers Amb. Amina Mohamed, Amb. Monica Juma and the incumbent, Amb. Raychelle Omamo. Though this is my first appointment as an ambassador, my previous tenures have included a career as an educator, social worker and a politician.”
Turning to the challenges she faced as a woman diplomat, Ambassador Mahmoud noted: “The challenges of a woman diplomat are not that different from those faced by women in other professions. As a diplomat, one may require to be flexible, as issues that require attention may emerge abruptly hence staying away from family at short notice becomes part of the job. In any case, I have a supportive and capable team which works with me to meet the mandate of the Embassy.
“My experiences in Kuwait as an ambassador have been no different. Kenya and Kuwait enjoy cordial relations, and ever since I have been in Kuwait, I have received a very warm welcome. I have not experienced any obstacles during my visits to the Diwaniyas, though during the COVID-19 crisis my interactions were limited. God willing, I am looking forward to further fruitful engagements in future as well.”
In reply to what she enjoys most in her life as a diplomat, the Kenyan top diplomat in Kuwait said: “I enjoy engagements and cooperating with the host Government to cement long lasting ties between Kenya and Kuwait. In addition, the Diwaniyas I have attended offered me a chance to visit different segments of Kuwaiti society and this gave me the opportunity to learn more about the rich culture and tradition of the people of Kuwait.
“In addition, I have several hobbies that I engage in whether in Kuwait or elsewhere. These include, creating new friends, contacts and learning of different cultures and traditions.
On the role of women in Kuwait society, the ambassador was more effusive, “Kuwait has made remarkable gains for women in the region by cementing their democratic rights through voting. In the judiciary, I am delighted to note that there were about eight (8) women judges, the first country to do so in the GCC. Likewise, the domestic violence bill gives mothers the right to authorize medical treatment for their children. These are among others positive reforms touching on women in Kuwait.