Born in Kenya, Dr. Roselyn Akombe has worked as a teacher, civil society activist and managed national elections. Roselyn’s first employment before joining the University of Nairobi was with St. Luke’s Ekware Secondary School. It is during this period that her political views were formed as she observed the inequalities in the society between the education opportunities she had been privileged to have in comparison to her students in this community- funded institution. She later taught English and Literature at Kebirigo Secondary School, Kiabonyoru High School and Nyabururu Girls High School.
At the University of Nairobi, Roselyn joined the student movement and led demonstrations to protect Karura forest, demand for a new constitution, and denounce police brutality during the autocratic regime of Daniel Arap Moi.
After completing her studies at the University of Nairobi, Roselyn was hired by Prof. Wanjiku Kabira at the Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development. Under the mentorship of Prof. Kabira, worked on the Gender and the National Budget program, the gender and democracy program for increasing representation of women in politics and coordinated the drafting of the Affirmative Action Bill, whose motion was successfully passed in Parliament. Roselyn also worked on gender mainstreaming in the national constitution and political parties. This entailed lobbying for participation of women in the constitutional review commission where the Affirmative Action policy was adopted.
Dr. Akombe moved to the United States in 2000 to pursue her graduate studies. During that period, she worked with the Women Rising Inc, the African Union and the United Nations. She returned to Kenya in 2017 to serve as a Commissioner with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission where she was described by media as a fresh face, and spokesperson of the Commission. Dr. Akombe resigned on 17 October 2017 following the nullification of the presidential result citing government interference in the management of the election.
SERVICE IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Dr Akombe began her international civil service career in 2003 with an internship at the African Union as she was finalizing her doctorate degree at Rutgers University. Her interest in the African Union was inspired by her doctorate research on trade creation and trade diversion in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). She was later hired as an Economist at the African Union.
In 2006, Dr. Akombe was offered a two-week contract to join the United Nations as a political affairs officer to work on Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 10-year capacity building programme for the African Union. She rose through the ranks, serving as a senior adviser to the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and later on as the first black person to serve as the Chief of Policy and Guidance at the Policy and Mediation Division at the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. She also served in 2015 in Burundi as a Senior Electoral Affairs Officer. In addition to leading various flagship programmes such as the Joint UNDP-DPPA Programme for Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention, she was involved in establishing several of the UN missions including in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Great Lakes, West Africa, Central Africa, among others.