Maj. Gen. Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed becomes Kenya’s first-ever female air force head

Dollita Okine May 03, 2024
Maj. Gen. Ahmed had already held several firsts in the male-dominated military leadership, including being the first woman to advance to the rank of major general and brigadier. Photo Credit: Kenya Defence Forces/X

Maj. Gen. Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed is the first female commander of the air force and the first woman to lead a military service in Kenyan history, having been chosen by President William Ruto.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after last month’s helicopter disaster which claimed the lives of several people, including the military chief. She was appointed alongside other high-ranking officials, such as a new head of the armed forces. 

Maj. Gen. Ahmed had already held several firsts in the male-dominated military leadership, including being the first woman to advance to the rank of major general and brigadier, according to the BBC.

When she enlisted in the military in 1983, she was assigned to the Women’s Service Corps, a female-only organization that functioned independently of the other branches of the armed forces and provided support functions including communication, logistics, medical, and administrative work.

When it was dissolved in 1999, its members were then allowed to join the main military services — army, navy, and air force. This opened the door for more women to enter the military and advance through the ranks, an opportunity that Ahmed took advantage of.

In 2018, the trailblazer received the rank of major general. Then-President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that he expected her “to be a positive role model to women in this country. Prove to them that there are no limits for women.”

According to the BBC, Maj. Gen. Ahmed had earlier stated that she was motivated by her uncle’s military service to also enlist, praising his discipline and diligence, which “shaped my life from a very early stage”.

She told Citizen TV in 2018 that some of her family members had discouraged her from enlisting, saying “that’s not a profession for women.”

“But I was determined to make a difference in my life,” she declared.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 3, 2024

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