Prof. Wanjiru Wanyoike has assumed office in her new role as the Director Gender and Mentoring Centre at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) for the next two years with effect from December 15 2020.
This follows her appointment by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi. She takes over from Prof. Hellen Kutima, who steered the Directorate for the past four years.
Speaking during an interview in her office, an enthusiastic Prof. Wanyoike, who is an Associate Professor, Department of Botany, College of Pure and Applied Sciences (COPAS), expressed her gratitude on the appointment and affirmed her commitment to execute her roles diligently.
“I am excited and honored that the Vice Chancellor appointed me to this position to serve the University in a capacity that I am so passionate about,” said Prof. Wanyoike.
The Gender office in JKUAT was established in 2012, following a government directive through the then Ministry of Home Affairs. Its mandate is to address gender issues which hinder academic excellence and staff performance within the University.
Some of the issues include gender imbalance, sexual harassment, gender-based violence, unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS among others. In response to these issues, policies have been developed but not yet fully implemented, a situation Prof. Wanyoike says, requires to be addressed.
She said, “Most of the issues such as disability mainstreaming are on paper, but they need to be implemented. We will work within that scope and ensure this agenda is extended to the entire University.”
As a scientist, a discipline where women are minorities, Prof. Wanyoike is passionate about mentoring young people to encourage uptake of science subjects, a quality she nurtured when serving as a Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology (KWUST), a women’s only Kenyan university that aims to bridge the gap in gender representation in higher education.
She has also held various elective leadership positions in JKUAT including serving on the Fundilima Sacco Board as well trustee to the University’s Pension Scheme.
Prof. Wanyoike runs a mentorship program which has enabled three students secure scholarships to study in the United States of America. She hopes to work with students and other stakeholders to prevent drugs and substance abuse.
She is confident that she will integrate neglected issues having worked with the late Prof. Wangari Maathai in mainstreaming food security in Kenya between 2003 and 2004.
Prof. Wanyoike holds a PhD in Science from the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany. She is an alumna of University of Nairobi having attained a Master’s degree in Mycology and a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Botany from the institution in 2002 and 1989 respectively.