Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril: A Woman of Vision and Impact

the first woman to chair the WTO's General Council in 2005.


Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s remarkable journey is a true inspiration, marked by a series of pivotal roles and accomplishments. She carved her name into history when she became the first woman to chair the WTO’s General Council in 2005. Her tenure as Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs showcased her indispensable role in diplomatic endeavors. Later, as the Education Cabinet Secretary, she spearheaded sweeping reforms in the education sector. Transitioning to her role as Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage, and Culture, she passionately championed the advancement of sports and culture in Kenya. Amina’s incredible journey, which began from humble beginnings, stands as a testament to the power of determination and serves as an enduring source of inspiration for all.

Background and early life

Born on October 5, 1961, in Kakamega, Kenya, Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s life story started in the town of Kakamega. She attended Township Primary School, Butere Girls, and Highlands Academy. She nurtured her interest in international affairs through immersing herself in detective fiction.

Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s quest for education took her to the University of Kyiv in Ukraine, where she earned a Master of Laws (LLM) in international law. Subsequently, she completed a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) in international relations at the University of Oxford. Amina expanded her expertise in international law through various training courses at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). In 2002, she entered into matrimony with Khalid Ahmed, and together, they raised two children while caring for four orphans.

Amina’s proficiency in several languages, including Somali, English, Russian, Swahili, and French, underscored her commitment to effective global communication.

Early Career

Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s career took root in 1985 when she started as a legal officer at the Kenyan Ministry of Local Government. From 1986 to 1990, she served as a Legal Advisor in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and actively got involved in international treaty matters. Between 1990 and 1993, Amina served as a Legal Advisor to Kenya’s mission at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. She collaborated with organizations such as the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization.

In 1997, Amina became the Legal Advisor to the Kenyan delegation at the UN Security Council, further solidifying her diplomatic journey. She went on to serve as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative for Kenya in Geneva from 2000 to 2006. During this time, she achieved the distinction of becoming the first female chairperson of the International Organization for Migration and chairing the African Group in the WTO’s Human Rights Commission.

International Impact

Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s impact extended to the international stage, where she chaired the Trade Policy Review Body in 2003 and presided over the Dispute Settlement Body in 2004. In 2005, she made history as the first woman to chair the WTO’s General Council. Her contributions spanned multiple international organizations, including WIPO, ILO, WHO, UNCTAD, UNHCR, and UNAIDS from 2001 to 2005.

Between 2006 and 2007, Amina led the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Affairs’ Committee on Strengthening and Restructuring. In 2008, she assumed the role of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion, and Constitutional Affairs, overseeing the redrafting of Kenya’s constitution in 2010. In 2011, Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril was appointed Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And  also served as the president of the United Nations Conference on Transnational Crime in Vienna.

In April 2013, Amina was appointed Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. She played a significant role in Kenya’s diplomacy efforts, particularly concerning ICC cases against Kenyan leaders.  And championing the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic’s African Union membership.

Despite a brief setback in her bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship in 2017, Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril continued to engage in diplomatic efforts. Amina met US officials and received honors from the Japanese government for promoting economic relations between Nairobi and Tokyo.

In January 2018, she assumed the role of Education Cabinet Secretary, initiating various reforms to improve the education system. However, some decisions, such as delaying curriculum implementation in 2019, faced controversy and reversals.

Inspirational life.

Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril’s journey from humble beginnings to international prominence serves as an inspiration. Her passion for diplomacy and commitment to education have left an indelible mark on Kenya and the world.  Amina’s life and legacy encourages us to reach for the stars and make our mark on history.






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