she shapes the city

Josephine Karianjahi ~ Women’s Empowerment Advocate


Josephine has always loved storytelling. Since she can remember, she has jotted stories down and shared them with her friends. Now she uses stories to empower women across the country.

Working with Independent Television Service ITVS, she runs the #WomenInRed campaign in Kenya, screening powerful stories of “ordinary” women from across the world. The aim is to inspire Kenyans and enable them to identify with the characters they watch. Josephine says “maybe they can’t relate to a towering figure in the international spotlight but with our films they may think, she sounds like my aunt, she sounds like my sister”.

University educated in the United States, Josephine has a great fondness for the country, but when she graduated from her second degree her “gut instinct” was to return to Nairobi. “I was really curious about this whole Africa rising story and thought I want to be part of that” she explains. Having grappled with the reality of being a black woman in the US, she returned to Kenya to find that problems remained here. “There are so many things not happening for women even though they’re capable and skilled” she says, corporate boards, local councils and even Parent Teacher Associations remain opportunities for men alone. Even more serious she says “the threat of violence against women is always there, if you say the wrong thing or wear the wrong thing. Even women who have a lot of security and power in this society can be targeted , it’s really scary.” The recent public stripping incidences are an example of this reality.

Josephine is hopeful though that ” a huge tide is turning”. Both men and women in the city are actively working to have women involved in all spheres of society and some fathers¬† are now encouraging their daughters to be active tomboys and build machines, if that’s what takes their fancy. Josephine is definitely playing her own role in this and says “That’s what really drives me every day. Thinking through how to get one more woman to believe “I can do this””.