As Head of Legal Affairs for the organising committee of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Africa Championships 2023, Etemesi is working for Kenya’s Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and The Arts. After this event she will work with other organising committees under the same Ministry.
Being an in-house lawyer requires specific skills, says Etemesi. “You always have to do more and envision every situation as matters arise, and give advice based on various aspects, like: How do we take precautions to avoid a certain situation? How do we ensure our agreements are water tight and provide no room for litigation? While doing this, you have to be confident and have the team buy into your ideas.”
Etemesi sees herself as a problem solver. “I aim to identify pertinent issues in society and look into innovative ways to solve them. Additionally, I would say I am a lawmaker, because legislative drafting seems to be one of the many hats I wear.”
After her time with a prominent legal practice, Etemesi quickly moved into the non-profit sector. “I really have been able to see the impact of my work and how it has made a difference in society, for instance lobbying for the assent of the Mental Health Act 2022 in Kenya which was finally signed into law after four years of lobbying,” she said. “I am so proud of this work because this Act really is a monumental step when it comes to protecting the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. I also steered a study on 'Barriers facing women in public procurement in Kenya' and the recommendations were taken up by the current government. I currently sit on the Decriminalization of Suicide Committee at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights where we are trying to advocate for decriminalisation of suicide which is a crime in the Kenyan Penal Code. This work gives me satisfaction because the results directly impact the citizens positively and also further create a just society.”
Etemesi believes sports and the arts have a tremendously positive effect on the community, and hosting competitive sporting events can have positive spin-offs in helping alleviate poverty thanks to some new initiatives.
“In Kenya, a huge number of young people are trying to make a living off arts and competitive sports, but previously there has been hardly any support and policies from the government to provide a platform for them to make ends meet,” she explained. “The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts has come up with the ‘Talanta Hela Initiative’, a platform where, during Ministry-sponsored events, artists can sell their artwork. There is also a requirement that events sponsored by the Ministry have a “village” with a “Hustler Bazaar” where vendors can sell their work, and also a platform where upcoming artists can showcase their talent and get paid for it. This is a fundamental step towards promoting good mental health as a lot of mental health issues stem from socio-economic factors.”
Etemesi acknowledges there was an adjustment to be made moving from the non-profit sector to working for the government. “There is quite a huge difference in terms of the processes, but I am more than elated to be given an opportunity to serve my country,” she concluded.
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