Sophia Noor

Sophia Abdi Noor defied the odds to become the first elected female Member of Parliament (MP) from north-eastern Kenya. She won the Ijara Constituency seat on a Party of Reforms and Development (PDR) ticket in the 2017 elections. She entered politics in 2008, as an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominated MP in the 10th Parliament. Her election to the National Assembly was monumental, given that she comes from a conservative region where no woman had ever held an elective post before.

Her entry into politics was a long time coming. In 1997, she was the first woman from the region to vie for a parliamentary seat. However, her nomination was cancelled due to the cultural and religious arguments that a woman cannot lead a Muslim community.

Before joining politics, Noor had a lengthy career. She is the founder of Womankind Kenya, an organisation which campaigns against early marriages and female genital mutilation. The organisation also rescues orphaned girls and those vulnerable to female circumcision and helps educate them.

She served as the principal of Yuga Girls High School between 1989 and 1992. She was a member of the National Council for Children Services between 2005 and 2008. She was seconded by the Ministry of Education to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) programme in Garissa. While there, she came across a circumcision rite in one of the villages she was visiting. The young girl died on the way to the hospital. The incident sparked memories of her childhood circumcision which was a horrid experience that she openly admits haunts her to date and led to myriad complications during menstruation and childbirth. This led her to fight against the practice despite the opposition.

Noor also worked with CARE International, MSF-Spain, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision and MIKONO International.

When she was nominated to Parliament in 2008, Noor became the vice chairperson of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association between 2008 and 2013.

She holds a Diploma in Community Service, a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from Arusha and a master’s degree in Executive Management Development from the United States International University.

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