There was an assumption that women value careers less or that they do not take up high-profile jobs and that it is okay to relegate the younger ones to less erudite, non-challenging jobs set up far away from the glassy C-suite offices, just a tiny desk tucked in a corner. Not that there is anything wrong with a tiny desk.

Then came a new breed of women who are hungrier than their mothers and grandmothers. They have become trailblazers in medicine, having studied specialities that were unheard of in Kenya, or icons having branched off in different spectrums of law or gotten bolder in changing the world.

In recognising the strides they have made to stand out, the 2021 Top 40 Under 40 project attracted over 1,000 nominees.

 These were highly educated, some whom we could read ambition from their long list of achievements, very impactful in society and real models to the younger generation.

The list had activists, artists and athletes, scientists, and several people running enterprises. These are women who have broken rules and questioned why such rules existed in the first place. They broke records. They broke into new boundaries, revealing that what young Kenyans need is just a chance.

In coming up with the final list, the Business Daily, together with judges from key sectors and professional bodies, used all sorts of yardsticks to measure ‘outstanding.’ The judges picked the majority of the candidates, while the rest were cherry-picked by professional bodies, and a few from the original nominations list.

To capture what sets the winners apart, we reached out to people who watched them rise, to professional bodies that understand them better, and interrogated their success stories.

They share their experiences, attitudes, and decisions that catapulted their careers. Our goal is for every girl and woman to read someone’s story of scaling the highest reaches of success and hear that it is safe to climb.

Diana Mwango