Hon. Zuleikha Juma was born 33 years ago.She attended Coast Academy for her primary education before joining Legae Academy in Gaborone, Botswana, where her father worked as an expatriate electrical engineer. She later graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science in Development and Social Transformation from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She was nominated to parliament by the ODM party and is seeking election as the Women’s Representative for Kwale county. Hon. Zuleikha was motivated into elective politics by her father after successfully bringing together more than 2000 registered women members to register for a social development initiative in Kwale county. Following the 2007 post-election violence, Hon. Zuleikha chose to work with youth to redirect their energies positively. Her desire and vision is to provide enabling legislation that is conducive to development. Hon. Zuleikha’s vision is to see the youth given a platform to speak and also access economic empowerment. She would also want to see schools recognize the rights of Muslim girls with regard to the hijab, as well as a conducive environment to observe the Ramadhan calendar.
From the onset, Hon. Zuleikha knew she wanted to help alleviate suffering, especially of young children. She had initially planned to study child psychology, but her experience in South Africa diverted her interests towards social science, which she saw as an opportunity to address the plight of many people, as opposed to psychology that involves individual cases. Unlike most of her siblings who chose to relocate to western countries, Hon. Zuleikha was determined to come back home to influence her society positively. When she came back home, Hon. Zuleikha did not find a job as easily as she had imagined. A professor advised her to research on the plight of Muslim women, since she wanted to address issues affecting them. Surprisingly, the research that started with 56 women in Mariakani Ward in Kaloleni Constituency, Kilifi County, evolving into a movement with more than 2,000 registered members. She has worked with several non-governmental organizations in the county that either focused on empowering young Muslim women, or overall community development. She served as a local party representative for ODM party and was later elected the deputy youth leader, a national position that saw her campaign nationally while also creating the required networks. The MP is the national youth coordinator for ODM, and a co-founder of the inter-party youth forum. She has brought a motion seeking to have the government fund the National Youth Council, to encourage the youth to venture into fields like agriculture in order to stem rural-urban migration and contribute to food security. Hon. Zuleikha sits in the House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives.
Women and Youth Empowerment
Cultural constrictions that have resulted in marginalization of women and youth are rife in Kwale county, with the patriarchal system favoring men at the expense of women. This has seen women become economically dependent and resulted in higher poverty levels within families. Hon. Zuleikha intends to expand the work she has been doing in advocating for and supporting women and youth economic empowerment programs to enable them become productive members of the community.