Deconstructing Karua, Raila’s running mate for the August 9, general elections.

Hon. Karua’s public service is long, broad and deep but it is truly distinguished by her service in all three branches of government, giving her unparalleled experience in the working of national government and unique insights into how to foster and maintain intergovernmental relations.

She is a renowned Kenyan political leader, human rights defender and reform champion with a deep commitment to social justice, the rule of law and the building of accountable institutions. A lawyer by profession, Hon. Karua started her law career in 1981 as a Magistrate, before venturing into private practice as founding partner of one of the most successful women led law firms of the time – Martha Karua & Co. Advocates. Hon. Karua has successfully argued precedent setting cases and been involved in historic public interest litigation.

In 2020 Hon. Karua was conferred with the rank of Senior Counsel. In her legal and professional practice, she has consistently advocated for individuals, human rights and healthy families. It is her fundamental belief that strong and dignified lives create healthy families which collectively form the basic building blocks of a stable and prosperous nation.

She is renowned for her advocacy on women’s rights and also actively represented pro bono victims of politically instigated and sensitive cases among them the Koigi Wamwere treason trial where she represented the late lawyer and assistant minister Hon Mirugi Kariuki.

She is a courageous, principled and inspirational leader, with a broad spectrum of experience in law, politics, policy and sustainable development. She is a strategic thinker with wide national, regional and global networks. Her competencies have had her as a lead negotiator in pivotal moments in Kenya’s history.

In addition to a Bachelor of Laws from Nairobi University, Hon. Karua holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the United States International University. For two decades, she served as Member of Parliament (MP), representing Gichugu Constituency in Kirinyaga, winning four consecutive elections. She was the first women elected as a MP in Gichugu constituency paving the way for the election of women in Kirinyaga.

With a participatory, community-minded approach to development, her leadership ushered in improved services to the constituency such as access to education, health care, water and improved infrastructure. To ensure greater ownership and sustainability, she mobilized both community and partners to co-fund community action projects. Her model of leadership promotes public participation, community prioritization and collective responsibility has ensured a collective growth and development of her local communities.

For more than six years, Martha served as a Minister in the Government of Kenya in charge of various portfolios. As a Minister, she led various teams in negotiating different protocols and also made reports on the status of Kenya’s respect of Human Rights. With others, she worked towards the establishment of institutions that promote and protect human rights, such as the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights among other independent national and international accountability institutions.

Between 2005 and 2009, she was Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, under whose watch Kenyan new and most progressive constitutional dispensation was promulgated. She is a strong believer in institutions, constitutionalism and constitutionality as the means of securing good governance and accountable people centered development. As such, even while out of government, she has consistently advocated for respect of the rule of law and fidelity to the Constitution.

International exposure to and interaction with global human rights actors, especially UN platforms, have helped sharpen her skills and capacity in negotiations for various human rights conventions, protocols and advancement of rule of law. In 2005 as Minister for Water and Irrigation, Martha Karua was instrumental in developing the much-celebrated water sector reforms. Long before devolution, she guided inter-ministerial engagements in the government to ensure decentralization of resources to the grassroots. At the regional level, she worked with all the Ministers of the Nile Basin to affirm the rights of all countries in the region to access the Nile Waters.

In 2008, due to her negotiations skills and ability to bring diverse groups together in resolving disputes, she was appointed to lead the government team in the Koffi Anan led mediation between the Government and the Opposition, leading to the National Accord and the Grand Coalition Government and ending the violence that had engulfed Kenya after the disputed December 2007 elections.

Earlier in 1998 with others she launched the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Committee (IPPC) focused on an all-inclusive dialogue on constitutional review thus diffusing tension between the protagonists, pitching the government on one side and opposition and civil society on the other. She worked with the parties to develop a common agenda for reforms that led all the groups to work together as compatriots in search of a new dispensation.

Prior to government service, Hon. Karua was intimately involved in the defence of victims of illegal detentions and politically instigated charges during the repressive single party era in Kenya. This work introduced and linked her with key civil society actors and causes, leading to her contribution to the founding and active service in key civil society organizations such as the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the League of Kenya Women Voters, International Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya) and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) among others. Additionally, as a veteran of the second liberation and the struggle for democracy in Kenya, Hon. Karua fought for the creation of independent institutions especially the Kenya judiciary in the early 1990s, both as Council Member of the Law Society of Kenya and as a practicing advocate.

▪ Global Executive MBA, United States International University (USIU)-Africa, Nairobi 2011
▪ Bar Examination, Kenya School of Law, 1981
▪ LLB Honours, University of Nairobi, 1980
▪ A Levels, Nairobi Girls School 1976
▪ O Levels, Karoti Girls Secondary School 1974.

▪ International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)-Kenya Chapter
▪ The League of Kenya Women Voters
▪ Law Society of Kenya
▪ Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers


Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs, Government of Kenya, 2005-2007; Minister of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, 2008-2009
The Ministry was instituted in 2003 with the intention of addressing legal reforms following years of one party era that had led to a decline of the governance justice and legal sector in Kenya. My role was in two areas; to provide leadership in reform of the sector and secondly to support in the creating of legal frameworks that could support the country in upholding the human rights of Kenyans. As the responsible officer for Multi Government agencies I oversaw the implementation of the first sector wide reform that brought together institutions in the Justice, Law and Order sector such as Judiciary, police, prisons, Attorney General’s Office to lead coordinated reforms. This approach resulted in improved service delivery and governance. I used my legal background to ensure mechanisms were in place to support the drafting of the constitution of Kenya. Successes included:
i. Spearheaded the drafting of the constitution of Kenya Review Act 2008 which enabled the successful completion of the stalled constitutional review process and ushered in Kenya’s 2010 constitution;
ii. Led the government team in reporting on the Human rights situation in Kenya to The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Ghana in 2006, and to the UN commission on Human rights Geneva in 2009.
iii. Successfully led the government negotiating team to the National Accord. Oversaw drafting and enactment of the necessary legislation the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 to facilitate the setting up of the Grand Coalition Government and the various commissions that helped deal with the aftermath of the post-election conflict, including:
a. The Kriegler Commission inquire into electoral system with special focus on 2007 disputed elections;
b. The Waki Commission to investigate post-election violence and recommend necessary action;
c. The Interim Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission;
d. The Interim Constitutional Court;
Minister for Water, Government of Kenya, January 2003 – December 2005
During my tenure, I provided leadership to implement water sector reforms guided by the Water Act 2002. Among key achievements were:
i. Successful implemented water sector reforms that decentralised management of water, introduced a participatory approach, improved governance and service delivery, and focused on sustainable management of water resources.
ii. Elected to Chair the Nile Basin Initiative, a regional initiative, that brings all Nile basin Ministers of Water together to discuss the access to and use of the Nile waters. Participated in the renegotiation of the colonial agreement and affirmed the right of all members to the waters of the Nile. This reduced the potentially dangerous tensions among Nile Basin states.
iii. Participated in numerous regional and international water forums such as, The African Ministers of Water Conference and The Third World Conference on Water Kyoto in 2003 among others.

Elected Member of Kenya National Assembly (Parliament) for Gichugu Constituency December 1992 – January 2013
During my tenure Gichugu had a track record of the best utilisation of constituency development funds. I distinguished myself as an unrelenting champion of good governance, human rights advocacy and legislation;
i. 2009-2013 Nominated by Parliament to be a member of The Select committee on constitutional Review. As a member of this committee participated in successful negotiations that ended the impasse amongst committee members on contentious issues. Further, introduced the Equalisation Fund to redress the existing marginalisation of development in the country
ii. 2001-2002 Nominated by parliament as a member of the select committee on Constitutional Review.
iii. 1997 Organised and provided leadership Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG). This group facilitated negotiations between the government and opposition leading to enactment of necessary legal and constitutional reforms before the December 1997 general elections. These minimum constitutional reforms helped to level the playing field, enhanced respect for human rights and introduced gender inclusion in politics and decision-making.
iv. 1998 Nominated by Inter-Parties Parliamentary Committee (IPPC) to be a joint secretary of the drafting committee that oversaw the drafting and enactment of an all-inclusive Constitution of Kenya Review Act 1998. This started the formal journey of reviewing the constitution of Kenya enacted at Independence.
v. Nominated by parliament as a member of the select Committee on Anti-Corruption mandated inter alia to hold public hearings and make recommendations on a legal framework to fight corruption. This committee’s recommendation laid the foundation for the enactment of The Kenya Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
vi. As a MP interacted widely with parliamentarians from the region and globally in the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), Commonwealth parliamentary Association, Global Legislators for a balanced environment.

Martha Karua Advocates 1987-2002
As the sole proprietor of the firm, I built a Law Firm with a portfolio of impressive clients in a wide range of sectors including banking, insurance, and non-governmental organisations. I was responsible for the law firm’s representation of clients and managing of employees including legal professionals. Successfully represented clients in diverse areas of law including public interest litigation. The firm gained a reputation as one of the leading firms in pro bono defence of human rights and public interest litigation. Demonstrated commitment to the community service attested by the large number of clients the firm offered pro-bono legal services, especially for the economically disadvantaged victims of human rights abuses.

Magistrate, Senior Resident Magistrate, of Kenya Judiciary 1981-1987
While a Magistrate, I distinguished myself for delivering a very high turnover of cases and built a reputation as a fair and well-grounded legal mind.

Founder Member and Elected Chair, The League of Kenya Women Voters 1992-May 2002:
Founder Member and the first Chair of the League of Women Voters that advocates for participation and inclusion of women in leadership. The League grew to become the leading voice for women’s inclusion in politics and leadership. The League has since supported many women to participate in leadership positions and has trained over one million in civic education.
Elected Council Member of Law Society of Kenya 1989-1992:
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is Kenya’s bar association, with the mandate to advise and assist members of the legal profession, the government and the larger public in all matters relating to the administration of justice in Kenya. As a council member I led the calls for reform in the Judiciary of Kenya.

Elected Council Member of Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers: Between 1990-1994:
Elected as council member of FIDA – KENYA, a non-governmental organisation in Kenya that focuses on advocacy especially promotion and defence of women’s, human rights and provides free legal services for indigent women.

2022 Dakar Senegal
▪ 2020 Conferred with the Rank of Senior Counsel
▪ 2016 Inducted into the Roll of Honour of the Law Society of Kenya
▪ 2013 Recognized by the Government of Kenya as a National Hero
▪ 2000 Honoured by The International Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya as a Women’s Rights Defender
▪ 2000 Honoured by The Law Society of Kenya as an outstanding legal Practitioner
▪ 1999 Honoured by the International Commission of Jurists Kenya as Jurist of the Year
▪ 1990 Honoured by The Human Rights Watch as a Human Rights Monitor

▪ Attended Third World Women Conference in Beijing, 1995
▪ Attended many Commission on the Status of Women Yearly Review meetings at The UN New York
▪ Attended World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), Durban 2001
▪ Attended World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg 2002
▪ As Minister of Water Attended Third World Conference on Water in Kyoto Japan ,2003
▪ Attended Nile Basin Ministers of Water at AUHQ Addis Ababa and Elected Chair of Nile Basin Initiative in 2003.

▪ As Minister of Justice led Kenya’s delegation to report on human rights situation to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Accra Ghana in 2006.

▪ As Minister of Justice Lead government delegation to report on human rights situation to UNHCHR Geneva in 2009.

MG Team

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