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Fatma Abdullatif Abdallah - PhD Candidate, School of Political Science and Public Administration, Shandong University, China.


This research paper is a gender dimension study of the composite challenges of women diplomats in Kenya’s foreign [diplomatic] service. Despite the appointment of women to higher echelons of Kenya’s foreign service establishment, the challenges experienced in the course of undertaking their diplomatic assignments at Kenya Missions Abroad and headquarters have alluded the attention of Kenyan scholarship. The research examined the barriers to women’s representation in the foreign service with reference to the challenges encountered in the course of their advancement of Kenya’s foreign policy and diplomatic agenda. It is a description of the hurdles based on the experiences of senior and young women diplomats whilst undertaking diplomatic duties in the Foreign Service. The challenges are multifaceted comprising both societal and state-based [institutional]. Through the use of qualitative method combining primary and secondary sources of data, the study attempted to respond to the question: What are the challenges encountered by women in advancing Kenya’s foreign policy and diplomatic agenda? Primary data was obtained from biographical analysis and anonymous interviews of female diplomats, while secondary data was derived from peer reviewed journals, government records and textbooks. The study found that work-family life integration; social demands of networking; inadequate allocation of funds to Missions; conflicting relations between political and career ambassadors; stagnation and bias in policy decision making and the dilemma of deployment to strategic and non-strategic stations undermined the intensity of diplomatic presence and furtherance of Kenya’s national interests by Ambassadors and other women diplomats. However, the challenges were time specific, geopolitical and resulting from a combination of societal and institutional factors. The findings inform policy re-orientation towards gender mainstreaming in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an effective instrument in elevating Kenya’s global presence. The study recommends among others, promotion of gender diversity and inclusivity in senior foreign policy decision making and professionalization of Kenya’s foreign service commensurate with the 21st century dynamics.

Full Length Research (PDF Format)