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Saumu, Treasury Accountant in Nairobi, Kenia

Saumu is Treasury Accountant at our Nairobi office in Kenya. She leads a self-determined life. Saumu has a good education and a sufficient income. This is not valid for many of her countrywomen. In Kenya, females are 30 percent less likely to have the same opportunities as males to develop in economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership (Global GenderGap Report 2021.pdf). Many Kenyan women still make up a vulnerable group being confronted with poverty, child marriage and life-threatening beliefs about gender roles. See how Saumu steps out of this and leaves her footprint in constantly improving the situation for herself and her compatriots. “I have three daughters. My family-in-law expects me to give birth to a son. According to them, my first job is to be a good wife, then loving mother, then caring daughter-in-law and somewhere at the end of this list, I may work.”, says Saumu. There are still some tribes in her country forcing men to get another wife if no son is born, she tells us. The different perceived value of a man compared to a woman is still very present in Kenya. Our colleague shook this off: “I do what I want to do and that is right. That is me.”

You can become the first female President of Kenya.

 Portrait of DB Schenker Employee Saumu

Saumu empowers the next generation of female leaders

About the maternal wall and how to break it
Being part of DB Schenker for almost fifteen years, she holds a demonstrated history of working in the logistics and supply chain industry. Saumu is skilled in negotiation, budgeting and customer service. However, she has been confronted with gender stereotyping. After she gave birth to her girls, she noticed that this seemed to be a kind of showstopper for her at work - the “maternal wall”. “People assume, you are not productive anymore as you will be off when the kids are sick and your mind would constantly be with them.” Saumu has a long work experience now and knows her job. Her direct advice is: “Don’t play the victim, stand your ground. You know what you are doing.”

Portrait of Samu smiling

The source of her self-confidence
The power of speaking up for her rights has been nourished in High School. Saumu had been voted Chairlady of the Muslim community at her school. There, Muslim women were asked to remove their hijab. Saumu says: “The hijab is not just a garment. It gives me dignity. Without it, Muslim women feel naked.” Saumu had a discussion with the principal and succeeded. She remembers: “It was not easy for me to speak up. But I had to grow strong for my classmates. I was their leader. From there, I gained my confidence.” Today, the women at her former school still wear the hijab. Saumu definitely left her footprint.

The importance of being a role-model
Today, she wants to be a good role model to her girls. In Kenya, a wife is still often expected to do the washing and cooking for her husband. No-one else should touch his clothes or food. “The woman’s place is in the kitchen, not in society. I show them that it can be different.” It seems to work. Her niece Nasra wants to become an accountant, too. When Saumu puts her girls Swafiya, Swalha and Swabah to bed every night, she tells them: “You can become the first female President of Kenya.”