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Kenya’s President William Ruto has appointed the first female commander of the air force.

Maj Gen Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed becomes the first woman in Kenya’s history to head one of the military services.

She was appointed alongside other leaders including a new head of the armed forces, following the death of the military chief and others in a helicopter crash last month.

Gen Charles Kahariri was promoted to take the vacant position.


Maj Gen Ahmed has previously held other firsts in the military leadership that is dominated by men – she was the first woman to rise to the rank of brigadier and major general.

She joined the military in 1983, serving under the Women Service Corps, a woman-only outfit that operated as a separate entity from the other arms of the defence forces.

They were an auxiliary service offering support duties such as administrative work, logistics, medical and communication.

The unit was disbanded in 1999 and it was only then that its members were allowed to join the main military services – the navy, air force and army.

The co-option of the unit provided more opportunities for women to participate in military duties and also allowed women like Maj Gen Ahmed to rise through the ranks.

Her rise has been seen as an achievement in promoting gender equality in the armed forces.

In 2018, as she was being promoted to major general, then President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was counting on her “to be a positive role model to women in this country”.

“Prove to them that there are no limits for women,” the president said.

Maj Gen Ahmed has previously said she was inspired to join the military by an uncle who was in the military, admiring his discipline and hard work that “shaped my life from a very early stage”.

She said some of her family members discouraged her from joining the forces – “they said ‘that’s not a profession for women'”, she told Citizen TV in 2018.

“But I was determined to make a difference in my life,” she said

— Source: BBC 

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