#FemaleForward Ashura Michael, Kenya

“My ambition is to be the first deaf woman legislator”
Feature28.08.2020Mthoba Chapi
Ashura Micheal
Deaf human rights and gender activist, Orange Democratic Movement - KenyaFriedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

“My ambition is to be the first deaf woman legislator” 

Ashura Michael

The World Economic Forum’s digital media platforms recently listed some of the unforeseen challenges that come with face masks, which are now regularly used all over the world as a means to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. One of the unforeseen effects are towards deaf people, who struggle to read lips, which is an important part of their communication process on a daily basis. Imagine then being a deaf woman with political ambitions in Africa! 

Some would say, don’t even bother to try. But not Ashura Michael, who’s ambitions overpower her disability!  “In my last year at primary school, there were several cases of deaf girls who had reported to being raped. No one was there to speak on their behalf. The reported cases fell on deaf ears. I decide to study hard so that I can become a deaf lawyer to speak for the voiceless and defending their rights.”

But Ashura soon discovered that achieving her goal was not going to be easy. “Shortly after my diploma in law, I was denied to join law school simply because I am a deaf and because I did not sit for the Swahili national exams in my high school. I lobbied hard, eventually I was allowed.”

Ashura now defines herself as a deaf human rights and gender activist. She is a member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the official opposition party in Kenya. She then helped set up the Secretary General of Disability League at the ODM amongst other achievements. “My ambition is to be the first deaf woman legislator” she says, calling out for advocacy for more women in political leadership positions in Africa. Like many people around the world, Ashura’s day to day goals are affected by the Coronavirus, however her focus remains on serving her community during this pandemic, “I am currently advocating for equal distribution of resources and empowering my community to work for themselves.” 

Ashura also has a message for women in Africa. “The time is now. We don’t have to wait to be given space, we can end patriarchy together! Remember they say women are their own enemies, can we prove that wrong? Let’s stand up and fight for our space together!” 

Ashura Michael is featured in our award winning #FemaleForward profile series. We ask, how can women better reach their goals in society, politics or at work?