1. Who is Cecilia Maina?
I am the Gender and Disability Mainstreaming Secretary (DeKUTSO). I am a fourth year student at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology pursuing Bachelor of Commerce. I am a visionary person and I hope that the things that I have started in the Gender and Disability docket will have good progress when I hand them over to another leader. For example the Disability games, the sign language lessons etc.
I am also a very understanding and accommodating person and this has really made it easy for me to help students at a personal level ie giving them individualized consideration
2. Tell us what your Dekutso position is all about.
It’s all about promoting Gender equity at DeKUT and ensuring that students who are abled differently get access to all University resources without struggling. It also involves implementing progressive national and international policies regarding gender and disability in the institution.
3. When you were campaigning, what was your biggest promise to DeKUT comrades?
My biggest promise was to ensure that DeKUT gents are actively involved in gender based activities in the institution. I have achieved this through having talks that capture both genders. For example, before the covid 19 pandemic, we had a talk for both ladies and gents on 13th Feb 2020 (a day before Valentine’s day) on how we can make our relationships healthy as campus students. We also had a debate between DeKUT gents and ladies in the same month both of which turned out to be very successful.
During this Covid 19 pandemic,I have held virtual sessions for both genders to help students in solving everyday life challenges in the most appropriate manner.I held virtual sessions on how to manage stress and anxiety, how to deal with rejection and how to handle long distance relationships, all of which captured both ladies and gents.
Recently I held a virtual men’s conference whereby the topic of discussion was Men’s Mental Health especially during this time of uncertainty. I have been in a position to bring the University counselors on board, through the support of the Gender Director, to address these sensitive topics.
I have greatly involved the gents in every gender based activity that has happened during my leadership.
4. How has your journey in leadership been so far?
Well, it has been good because I have been exposed to so many activities and instances that have sharpened my leadership skills. We say that experience is the best teacher and for sure I have learnt to handle things in the most appropriate manner.
My leadership journey has not been 100% good of course and I have faced a few challenges. First, my leadership has been greatly affected by Covid 19 since having students participating in virtual talks needs one to put extra effort as compared to when students are in the University. All in all,I have managed to bring so many students on board during the virtual sessions which have been very educative to our students.
5. These Virtual sessions that you’ve been holding, tell us more about them.
I have been holding them on WhatsApp groups as it was the preferred platform for most students. Every time I have a virtual session, I create a WhatsApp group and circulate the link to students using other WhatsApp groups and of course not all students will have the link just as in the case of any meme circulating. I always explain the purpose of the group and therefore only willing students join the group. I don’t add any student to the group even after being requested, what I do is send him or her the link and they willingly joins us. This has really made them successful because for one, the students in the group are willing to listen and ask questions. Each time the group has approximately 200 students.
The scheduled time for these virtual talks is always 8:00pm in the evening, when most students don’t have much work at home. During the talk students actively participate and what makes it easy is that the facilitator/counselor records while the students type their answers,comments and concerns. They have really been successful and at the end of the sessions, students always ask for more sessions.
6. As a proponent of gender equality, where do you think we are as DeKUT in the gender issue?
DeKUT is far much ahead when it comes to gender equality. First, no policy in DeKUT discriminates anyone just because you are a lady or a gent. All students are given equal chances to participate in all activities in the institution and access the University resources regardless of the gender. In sports, you may find that ladies don’t participate in many games as compared to the gents but it’s all a matter of choice – not discrimination.
DeKUT has also captured gender studies in its curriculum and the current first years will be taking a unit on Gender and HIV/AIDS. The institution has always ensured that no student is discriminated or harassed because of their gender.
7. Comment on the experience of being a female leader in DeKUT.
It has really been a good experience to me. I have come to realize that being a female leader, you have to be strong and stand firm with your decision because some people might even judge you wrongly just because you are a woman.
8. During your term, what is the most significant step you have taken to better the life of people living with disability in DeKUT?
For the first time this year, students living with special needs participated in Disability games held at Chuka University. We had plans of engaging in more disability games but this has not happened due to Covid 19. I hope that this will continue when everything comes back to normal. It will greatly help in implementing national and international disability policies in the institution due to the integration.
With the support of the Gender and Disability Mainstreaming Officer, I have introduced a sign language group whereby we are learning how to communicate using sign language. This will help students living with special needs communicate at ease with other students in the other Universities or even at international levels.
9. What would you tell ladies in DeKUT who would aspire to be leaders in future?
They must be assertive and go for what they want but not what other people want. If your dream is being the DeKUT president, go for it without fear. We have been given equal chances to vie for these seats whether male or female.
10. Comment on the upcoming elections.
I don’t have much to say about the upcoming elections since it’s the first time we might be conducting them online. I hope that the process will be successful and may the best team win. Everything will depend on the ECK’s decision and therefore I might not be in a position to give any go ahead on online elections.
11. Where are we as an institution in terms of reopening?
Let me first say that the University is under the Ministry of Education. This means that the decision of MOH will greatly influence how the institution will operate. Currently, the institution is doing phased reopening due to the pending exams. This is because of the MOH directives on social distancing. As I have said this is a time of uncertainty and anything can change anytime according to the MOH directive on schools reopening.
12. What’s next for you, after being in the Dekutso?
Before I was elected as the Gender and Disability Mainstreaming Secretary, I was serving as a leader in many University clubs. Therefore,my leadership will not come to an end upon retiring. My dream is to lead at national and international levels and empower women through my leadership.
13. Give a shout out to outstanding female leaders in DeKUT. Especially those you think will take over the leadership in coming days.
I’d like to give a shout out to Maureen Kagwiria, Jane Maingi, Brilliant Ruto and Violet Sirma.
14. This has been a delight. What’s your parting shot?
I would like to say that change is inevitable and we must always try our best to embrace change rather than resisting it. This is evident during this Covid 19 pandemic when we have to get used to the new normal and we are now doing almost everything online and in a different way. I would like to tell our students to continue following the MOH directives by keeping social distance, putting on their masks and sanitizing.
Feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of this page
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