Millie at a Glance

Millie is an author, lawyer, politician, philanthropist, actor, motivational speaker, and an award winning women, children and human rights activist. She has been nominated for and won several awards and accolades for her work including the “Eve Woman of the Year Award”, the “International Young Women Christian Association Award”, the Family TV “She Awards”, the COVAW “Gallant Leaders’ Award”, and was named by the then Senator for Illinois Barack Obama who later became the President of the free world as one of the emerging and promising leaders on governance in Kenya. She was also named by one of the leading Magazines as one of the most influential women in East and Southern Africa.

She has a law degree from the University of Nairobi where she graduated amongst the top 5% in her class and is one of the very few lawyers in Sub-Saharan Africa who have specialized Masters degree in Public Interest Law, a degree attained from New York University.

She is the only elected woman MP in the traditional constituencies in the ODM party, the largest single party in Kenya.

She has worked nationally, regionally and internationally and consulted widely as an expert for the Government of Kenya, UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC, WHO amongst others.

She is the leading woman MP in legislative agenda by sponsoring the highest number of private Member’s Bills in Parliament.

Her middle name Akoth, signifies that she was born while it was raining. She reckons it always rains on her birthday. Millie was born in a small town, Homa Bay Town, by the shores of the Lake Victoria. She could have been named Adhiambo, meaning evening, but her father already had the masculine version of the name Odhiambo. She was given two Christian names Millie and Grace, by her mother, a staunch Christian who believed in the grace of God in her life. Millie is the fourth child to the late Harrison Odhiambo of Rusinga Island and the late Damaris Auma Odhiambo. She is a wife to Magugu Mabona of Zimbabwe and a step-mother to Lebo Mabona of Botswana. She is a sister to seven siblings, Rossie, Violet, Dorothy, Dan, Caro, Steve and Collins and an aunt to many. Often defined as a vocal and controversial politician, Millie sees herself instead as passionate and committed to social justice, characteristics inspired by her unwavering faith in God and belief in human rights and equality for all. She also believes that she is a chip off the old block, having inherited her philanthropy and interest in rights of the vulnerable from her mother who worked for years as an Almoner (nurse and social worker), protecting the poor and marginalized; while she gets the politics from her father who served as the Member for the Legislative Assembly for Nyanza and died in a boating accident while seeking for an elective seat as MP for Mbita constituency, the same constituency represented by Millie as at the time of writing this profile.

Professional Background

Millie has a distinguished career as a lawyer spanning many years mainly in the public service. She commenced her work in 1993 with a short stint in the private sector with a small firm of advocates, Kamau and Kamau advocates in Nairobi where she practiced corporate, conveyance and family law. This was followed by engagement at the State Law Office in the same year, where she worked as a State Counsel for the Government of Kenya in the Civil Litigation department for three years. She was appointed to represent the Attorney General in a specialized and powerful Election Petition Court that heard all election petitions in the country at a time when there was a growing consciousness on electoral rights and agitation for electoral reforms. Her interest in political rights was ‘re-awakened’ or ‘rekindled’ at this juncture but would only bear fruit years later. At the office of the Attorney General she also worked for a short time with the Advocate’s Complaint Commission that undertook disciplinary action against errant lawyers.

She then joined the International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA-Kenya) in 1996 where she worked for 3 years as a Litigation Counsel. She represented many indigent women in court and enabled them claim their rights. She also undertook advocacy work and several impact litigation cases including a pioneering case on domestic violence that challenged the then traditionally protected right to domestic chastisement by some communities. The case received a lot of international media attention and was covered in the book “International Human Rights in Context” by Alston & Steiner. This case together with other advocacy initiatives, led to several policy and legal changes for the better protection of women in Kenya.

After 3 years of litigation and community empowerment work at FIDA, Millie moved to the International Commission of Jurists, (Kenya) as a Gender and Justice Officer in 1998. The program sought to mainstream gender justice in the judiciary; She thereafter moved to work at the regional level as a Program Manager for East and Southern Africa for Le’twal International, an organization that focused on governance, human rights and the rule of law with a focus on women and children’s rights. At Le’twal she undertook groundbreaking work on sensitizing countries on their treaty obligations. The project was implemented in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and Swaziland in 1999 to 2000.

Millie founded The CRADLE, The Children Foundation, a philanthropic organization working to promote the rights of children in Kenya in 1997. She became the founding CEO in the year 2000. At The CRADLE, she undertook several impact litigation cases with the notable one being a case that sought to protect the rights of children born out of wedlock. The protection of children born out of wedlock was later included in the post independence Constitution. While at the civil society, she undertook several impact litigation cases on civil and human rights and spearheaded several advocacy initiatives on women and children including the advocacy for the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act, amongst other pieces of legislation.

Millie also served in the leadership positions of several other organizations. She was Chairperson of the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) in the year 2000; Legal Advisor to the Caucus for Women’s Leadership; and member of the Adoption Committee of Child Welfare Society of Kenya up to 2008.

She has contributed immensely to the development of a legislative framework on women and children as an expert for the government of Kenya, UN agencies and other bodies. She was an expert consultant in a special program, Mainstreaming in Action, (MAINAC), which was a joint project of the Government of Kenya, the Swedish International Development Agency, (SIDA), Sweden and other development agencies, that worked with several government departments in mainstreaming human rights, women and children’s rights in policy and government programs and included the Ministry of Urban Planning and Development; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Ministry of Water; Ministry of Roads under the Roads 2000 Project; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries-NALEP; and Ministry of Education. Through this program, many women started working in the hitherto male-dominated areas, for instance, in the construction sector. This was a project that ran for four years from 2004 to 2008.

She served in the Task Force on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act; the Government of Kenya Advisory Consultative Committee on International Human Rights Obligations under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs,(2004 to 2008); and was also a member of the Task Force to develop National Policy and Action Plan on Human Rights in Kenya under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs,(2005 to 2008).

She served as a consultant for the Ministry of Internal Security,(Police), in the year 2007, on the development of a model Victim Support Unit.

International and Regional Experience

As a Member of the Pan African Parliament since 2013, Millie has contributed to several motions on governance, human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights in Africa. She has undertaken training for and with other women leaders in the region including women legislators in the IGAD region under the auspices of National Democratic Institute, NDI. She has been a consultant on legislation and mainstreaming gender and human rights with other parliaments including South Sudan and Uganda Parliament.

In 2013, she was engaged by UNODC Belgium, in the development of a strategy on Victim Protection.

She has worked previously with several agencies to enhance a positive policy and legislative framework for women and children regionally and globally. In 2002, she was selected as one of the 24 experts worldwide in the NGO Advisory Panel to the UNGA Study on Violence against Children, where she served up to 2008. She was also appointed consultant for UNICEF (K) on the development of a National Position Paper on Violence Against Children in 2005.

As a manager with Le’twal International, she ran a program on Women and Children’s rights in East and Southern Africa that enhanced compliance, by governments on treaty-based rights. She worked in Rwanda for a period of 2 years, (2006-2007), as a consultant for the Norwegian People’s Aid, NPA, in building capacity for the NPA partners on human rights of women with a focus on Domestic Violence. She developed a Curriculum and Manual on Domestic Violence for the NPA partners.

In 2005, she was appointed as a consultant for the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Sweden and Education in Democracy Organization in Evaluating the Women’s Human Rights Program in Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Millie served as an expert for the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2001 and 2002, in undertaking a human rights audit of a regional strategy on Women’s Health in Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe and further as a trainer for health workers on Human Rights with a focus on eliminating harmful cultural practices, especially, Female Genital Mutilation in Africa.

n 2001, she contributed to the development of the Optional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on Women’s Rights in Africa, the Maputo Protocol, through a Human Rights and Gender Audit of the draft under the auspices of New York University at an AU meeting in Cotonue, Benin.

In 2001 she was also involved in a family law project in the Family Law Courts in Manhattan, New York.

She also served as a consultant for UNHCR on Sexual and Gender – Based Violence against Women and Girls in Kakuma in 2002.

Education

Millie started her schooling at Homa Bay Primary then proceeded to St. Francis Girls, Rangala, one of the leading girls schools in Kenya, where she graduated top of her class and amongst the top students nationally. She undertook her A levels at the prestigious Limuru Girls School where she graduated as the best Arts student in the school. In school Millie served in various leadership positions right from Primary where she was a troop leader of the Brownie’s movement; class and dormitory prefect in Secondary and Deputy House Captain in High School. She was admitted to study a degree in law, (LLB) at the University of Nairobi where she graduated amongst the top 5% of her class. She undertook a Masters in Law (LLM) in Public Service Law from New York University. She has diplomas and certificates in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Governance and Human Rights, and Anti-Corruption strategies from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and Lund University, Sweden; Les Aspin Centre of Governance and Marquette University, (USA); and IDLI, Rome, respectively. She speaks English, Spanish, Kiswahili and two local languages.

In 2013, she was engaged by UNODC Belgium, in the development of a strategy on Victim Protection.

She has worked previously with several agencies to enhance a positive policy and legislative framework for women and children regionally and globally. In 2002, she was selected as one of the 24 experts worldwide in the NGO Advisory Panel to the UNGA Study on Violence against Children, where she served up to 2008. She was also appointed consultant for UNICEF (K) on the development of a National Position Paper on Violence Against Children in 2005.

Academic Profile

  • 2001 New York University LLM(Masters) in Public Service Law
    • Constitution of the United Nations
    • International Human Rights of Women
    • International Humanitarian Law
    • Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic: (Domestic Violence)
    • Global Public Service Law
    • Women and Law, European Approaches
    • International Human Rights Law
  • 1991 Kenya School of Law: Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies
  • 1990 University of Nairobi LLB: Second Class Honors (Upper Division) Graduated amongst the top 5% in class.


Other Postgraduate Studies

  • 1998 IDLI, Rome, Italy
    • Legal Prevention and Judicial Control of Corruption.
  • 1997 Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Sweden.
    • Post Graduate Diploma, Advanced International Course on Human Rights & Humanitarian Law.
  • 1997 Les Aspin Centre, Washington D.C. & Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA
    • Democracy and Governance

Political and Legislative Work

Millie has been described variously in the political arena as: brazen, bold, brave, combative, courageous, feisty, fearless, outspoken, outstanding, loud or leader. Whatever description you may give her, what is clear is she spares no punches and is no push over. She has cut out a niche as a fearless and an unapologetic defender of women and children’s rights. This has sometimes been seen to land her in trouble. During a parliamentary debate gone wrong on the 18th of December 2015 on the infamous “Security Laws (Amendment) Bill” Millie claimed that she was physically assaulted and sexually harassed by some male politicians. Any other woman politician in a country that is seen as largely conservative and patriarchal, may have shied away from stating the same, but not Millie. Instead she went ahead and posted on her face book that when two male MPs tried to undress her, “She finished the job for them”. The post not only went viral but spurred heated debates on whether she was right or wrong and whether indeed she was attacked. Her subsequent justification is that the penultimate political degradation of women often centers below the belt. When men want to humiliate you politically, they will attack you sexually. By finishing the undressing they begun, she reckoned, she took away the power to ridicule her by showing them she is not afraid of her sexuality or her nakedness.

Millie is no stranger to controversy. In the 10th parliament, she at one point reported to the police that she had received information that there were persons sent to eliminate her and other prominent politicians including the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly on their stand on the appointments of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief Justice.

(contd.)She was to later report that night that she and her team were attacked by an armed gang. Though the Police Commissioner dismissed her claims as untrue, Millie insisted that she together with a team she was travelling with were attacked by an armed gang of six that she believed were national security agents. According to her, this was a warning intended to silence her.

While in the civil society, she at one point snatched a gun off the hands off a policeman who was threatening to shoot members of the public demonstrating against a spate of police killings. For those who were present on that day, time stood still. The situation was saved by two activists Wafula Buke and Anne Kariuki, who grabbed the gun off her hands and returned it to the police.

Millie has good political organizational skills. In 2006, she spearheaded and coordinated the program, the Western Kenya Presidential Campaign Team that galvanized more than forty Members of Parliament and aspirants to campaign for the Orange Democratic Movement in Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley and Nairobi Provinces. The team campaigned in more than fifty constituencies and the party won in all except two constituencies.

In 2008, Millie was nominated to the Parliament of Kenya to represent special interest groups (women, children persons with disabilities and the marginalized). While serving as a nominated MP, she together with Hon. Ababu Namwamba and Rachel Shebesh, spearheaded a powerful campaign team for the party, ODM Reloaded, mainly composed of youthful MPs, that helped to spur the party to new heights at a time the party was at an all time low. The campaign that targeted the youth, took the country by storm and has left a remarkable imprint in the party’s campaign history.

In 2013, she ran for and was elected as the first woman “migogo” in Nyanza province and the only woman elected in the ODM party in the traditional geographical constituencies in the whole country. (Most communities are patriarchal and leadership can only be through the male lineage and hence only a son or his wife is electable and not a daughter, who is called “migogo”). She is one of the only 16 members so elected from all parties in the 11th Parliament and serves as the chairperson of the Caucus-Leading Women Kenya and by virtue of that position also serves in the Executive of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA).

Millie has distinguished herself as an able and distinguished debater in the Kenyan Parliament and has severally been commended by several agencies. She has made a mark by sponsoring one of the highest number of Private Member’s sponsored legislation including the following:

  • The Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act
  • The Victim Protection Act
  • The Treaty-making and Ratification Act
  • The Assisted Reproduction Act
  • The Child Justice Bill

Millie is also a member of the Pan African Parliament that sits in Midrand South Africa. She is the deputy head of delegation of Kenya to the Parliament.

Founding Mothers and Fathers of the Constitution

Millie was involved at various levels, in the birthing of the Post-Independence Constitution of Kenya and earned her place in history as one of the “Founding Mothers and Fathers” of the Constitution. She was nominated by the Civil Society as a delegate to the National Constitutional Conference where she served in the Committee of Human Rights.

The government rejected the draft that was developed by the delegates and came up with an unpopular draft that was weak on human rights and gender. The Electoral Commission gave the opponents the symbol of an orange and the proponent a symbol of a banana for purposes of the referendum.

Millie became the Woman face of Orange and campaigned gallantly against the Constitution. The Orange team won.

After her nomination in parliament, Millie was selected to serve as one of the 27-member powerful Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution that included amongst others, the current President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President of Kenya; the governors for Bomet and Meru; Presidential candidates Martha Karua and Musalida Mudavadi; Senators Orengo and the late Mutula Kilonzo; former Ministers Hon Charity Ngilu and Hon Sally Kosgei; and the ODM Secretary General Hon. Ababu Namwamba, amongst others. After the passing of the constitution, she was elected to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Implementation of the Constitution, where she served as the Vice Chairperson.

Motivational Speaker and Mentor

Millie has mentored hundreds of young person through The CRADLE-The Children Foundation and the Millie Institute. She has been to several schools including St. Georges, Buru buru Girls, Loreto Valley Road, Sindo Girls, Nairobi Girls, St. Joseph’s Girls Mbita, Ambassador Pamela Mboya, Nyamasare Girls, Kaswanga Girls, amongst others; and she has also trained and mentored women Members of County Assemblies from various counties including Homabay, Kisumu, Bungoma, Busia, amongst others.

Literary Profile

Millie is not just an avid reader but loves to write as well and has authored both professional and fictional books as shown below.

Published Works

  • Political Leadership Unpackaged: Lessons for Aspiring Women Leaders; 2016. This is a book that gives a guide to women leaders. It is based on personal anecdotes and principles gleaned from other sources.
  • Unleashing Your Potential; 2015. This is a leadership empowerment book for young adults.
  • A to Z for Young Adults; 2015 is a compendium of principles for young adults on life skills.
  • Grand Illusions, False Promises: Trafficking Against Women and Girls in Kenya; a CRADLE (K) publication; 2006
  • Making Schools a Safe Horizon for Girls: Protecting Girls from Sexual Abuse. A Training Manual for Teachers; 2004
  • Criminal, Family and Succession Handbooks, FIDA (K) publications, 2003
  • After the Promise: A Situation Analysis on the Rights of the Child in Kenya under the Children's Act: A CRADLE (K) publication; 2003
  • Guide to Law, A FIDA (K) Publication- 1997
  • Protecting Children's Rights in Kenya: the Case for a Sexual Offences Bill: A Chapter published in Creative Child Advocacy Book India, 2003.
  • Public Interest Lawyering: Law for Social Justice:  A Manual for Pro bono work in Juvenile Justice; The CRADLE, (K) 2002
  • Legal and Political Empowerment of Women: Women and Law in East Africa (WLEA), ICJ (K) and FIDA (K). -2001
  • Participated in the writing of the “Situation Analysis on Women and Children in Kenya” with the Government of Kenya and UNICEF; 1997
  • Accessing the Family and Juvenile Courts (A User's handbook)
  • Unpublished Works

  • The Things we Lost with Freedom; (Forthcoming). Is a semi-biographical and fictional book.
  • Balancing the Scales of Justice: The Girl-Child Agenda; A paper presented at the Gender Forum organized by Freidrich Eigbert Foundation; July 2006
  • Human Rights and the Legal Implications of Female Genital Mutilation: A paper presented at a Global Dissemination Workshop on training materials for Nurses and Midwives, organized by the WHO in Harare Zimbabwe, 2001
  • International Human Rights of Women, A paper presented at a regional conference on human rights organized by HURINET- Uganda in Kampala, 2001
  • The Concept of Honor and the Politics of Reproductive Control: A comparative analysis of the practice of FGM in Africa and Homicide for Honor in Mediterranean Europe, A paper submitted in Partial fulfillment of a Masters Degree Program in New York University; Fall 2000
  • Making the Private Public; Using Public Interest Law to Vindicate Women’s Rights, the Case of Domestic Violence; A paper submitted in Partial fulfillment of a Masters Degree Program in New York University; Spring 2001
  • The United Nations and the Use of Force; A paper submitted in Partial fulfillment of a Masters Degree Program in New York University; Spring 2001
  • Domestication of the UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities.  A paper presented at a workshop organized by the Kenya Society for the Blind, (2000)
  • Elitism or Empowerment?  Women's movement in Kenya.  A Paper presented at an International Conference organized by the Association of Women in Development, (AWID), Alexandria, Virginia, USA, 1999
  • Gaps in the Law and Policy in the implementation of Treaty-Based Rights of Women and Children in Kenya.  A paper presented at a regional workshop organized by L'Etwal International, 10th to 11th May, 1999, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Comparative Study of the Kenya Constitutional Process and the American Process.  A Paper presented in Washington D.C. Les Aspin Center of Government, July, 1997
  • Date Rape: A paper presented at the United States International University, Kenya. (1997)
  • Family Law in Kenya: Series of Lectures offered to Community Development Students at Daystar University, Kenya, 1997.
  • Provision of Legal Aid in Kenya: A paper presented at a workshop of the Christian Lawyer’s Fellowship, Legal Aid Project, Ufungamano House, Nairobi.
  • Acting Profile

    Millie has always been interested in acting as a way of communicating issues of social interest. She has in the past written plays and also acted lead and supporting roles as conveyed below.

  • 1999: Acted a support role in the movie 'The Forgotten' based on on the plight of women who went to exile and were forgotten in post-apartheid South Africa.
  • 1997: Millie co-authored, directed and acted the main role in a play entitled "Breaking the Silence - Tumaini's Story" based on a true story involving homicide from domestic violence.
  • 1989: Acted in a Musical play “Elijah” on “the Power of Prayer” by the Christian Union, University of Nairobi
  • 1985: Writer, director and main actress in an award winning inter-house High School play in Limuru Girls entitled “The Awakening” on Women’s Rights in commemoration of the International Women’s Conference in Nairobi held the same year.
  • 1984: Director and main actress in an inter-house winning play “the Chief’s Wives” in St. Francis Girls, Rangala.
  • Community Development and Philanthropy

    Millie has been involved in several charitable initiatives spanning a wide range of causes over the years as shown below.

    The CRADLE-The Children Foundation: She founded The CRADLE The Children Foundation, the leading human rights organization for children in Kenya and that has changed the lot of thousands of children in Kenya.


    Jim Karraffa Business Academy: Millie was also a Board Member of the Jim Karraffa Foundation that worked to uplift the economic standards of women in Kibra Slums in Nairobi.


    NPC Children Centre: She served as a Committee member of the Nairobi Pentecostal Church Centre for Street and Disadvantaged children from 2005 to 2008.


    MY TIME: Millie is the founder of several initiatives for the support of different groups in Mbita including the Mbita Youth Training, Incubation, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Project, MY TIME that seeks to enhance the capacity of young people and to economically empower them.


    WAGEDI: She has founded the Women and Girls Education and Development Initiative, WAGEDI, through which she empowers women and girls and promotes girls education.


    JADESSI: Through Jodongo and Deye Economic and Social Support Initiative, JADESSI, she supports the elderly in Mbita.


    I Am a Winner: To enhance the educational standard in Mbita, she runs the “I am a Winner Program” that offers mentorship and bursaries to bright and needy students in Mbita constituency.


    Millie Institute: Millie is the founder of the Maiden Institute of Leadership, Law, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (the Millie Leadership Institute), that runs a Leadership and Training Academy; a Book Division and a scholarship scheme for indigent students. Through the Millie Institute she has trained several aspiring women leaders in Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and beyond on leadership.

    Awards and Accolades

    Millie has been nominated for and won several awards and accolades for her work including the “Eve Woman of the Year Award”, the “International Young Women Christian Association Award”, the Family TV “She Awards”, COVAW “Gallant Leaders’ Award”, and was named by the then Senator for Illinois Barack Obama who later became the President of the free world as one of the emerging and promising leaders on governance in Kenya. She was also named by one of the leading Magazines as one of the most influential women in East and Southern Africa.

  • 2008: Award winner for exemplary work on Gender and Human Rights by the International Young Women Christian Association.
  • 2007: “Woman of the Year Award” Winner under the “Gender and Human Rights Category” by Eve Magazine.
  • 2006: Named by True Love Magazine, a leading women’s magazine in Eastern Africa as one of the 50 most inspiring women in Eastern Africa.
  • 2006: Named by Senator Barrack Obama, of Illinois USA, as one of the most outstanding Kenyans in governance and justice issues.
  • 2005: Nominee, “She Woman of the Year” by Family TV, Kenya for exemplary work on women and children’s rights.
  • 2002: Nominee, “Eve Woman of the Year Award” for exemplary work on Gender and Human Rights, by Eve Magazine, a leading women’s magazine in Kenya.
  • 2001: Awarded a fellowship by the Global Public Service Law Program, NYU.
  • 2000: Awarded the Global Public Service Law Scholarship of NYU.
  • 1997: Awarded a democracy scholarship - Marquette University & Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington, D.C. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of commitment to human rights and democracy
  • 1997: Awarded a scholarship to attend an advanced International Program on Human Rights in Sweden.