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Rev. Rose Okeno's Historic Ordination Adds To Women's Progress In Kenya

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Now to a celebration in Kenya, where crowds of churchgoers gather to witness a moment in history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in non-English language).

MARTINEZ: This was the scene earlier this month as Reverend Rose Okeno became the first woman elected as a full Anglican bishop in Kenya. Processions of Anglican clerks sang and presented Okeno with gifts during her consecration. She's served in the church for over two decades.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROSE OKENO: I, Rose Nereya Ayiemba Okeno, do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare, promise and attest, acknowledge and subscribe before the almighty God.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in non-English language).

NOEL KING, HOST:

Okeno's ordination defies a movement in the church to put a moratorium on women bishops. In Kenya and around Africa, more women are taking up leadership roles. Florence Mutua, a member of Kenya's national Parliament, talked to KTN News at Okeno's ordination.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FLORENCE MUTUA: We are witnessing a very, very important moment in our country and in our region to have the first female bishop. And us, as women, we are very proud.

MARTINEZ: Charity Ngilu, another Kenyan politician, also attended the ordination.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHARITY NGILU: It is a time like this that we need to have such strong women of courage, women who are ready to really save their own nation. And this nation will need women like Bishop Okeno.

MARTINEZ: The bishop will work in a rural diocese where most churchgoers are small-scale farmers and traders. At her ordination ceremony, she vowed to serve people who are disenfranchised and marginalized in her community.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in non-English language). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.