A #SayNoToManelsKE campaign seeks to place more women on speaking panels

Manels on Citizen TV


Have you ever gone for a conference event and noted that the panel was made up on men only? I bet you have seen this in numerous events and even on TV talk shows.

Welcome to the  Manels phenomenon.


What are Manels?

Manels is used to refer to Men only Panels. The word was coined by Finnish feminist researcher and artist Saara Sarma, who specializes in internet parody images and memes.

In February 2015, Saara started  the blog http://allmalepanels.tumblr.com/ featuring over 200 photos, submitted from people from about 10 countries on all men panels

As covered on the BBC website

Whether it’s a Global Summit of Women with only men on the panel or back-to-back male panels in conferences, the images on the site bring home the message that gender equality among rostrums of leaders or experts is in short supply.

In an article on CNN in December last year, Esther Ngumbi and Elsa D’Silva called on Women to get rid of Manels

This is what they wrote

We are fed up. The lack of women — whether in peace negotiations, high-level conference panels, or boards — is alarmingly common.


Manels in Kenya (ManelsKE)
The notoreity of Manels in Kenya is just something that is not prevalent in conferences but also in the newsrooms. Most if not all TV stations in Kenya often feature men only speakers in their morning talkshows.

Nanjira Sambuli a researcher and writer on Women, technology and governance has on numerous occasions called out event organisers and show hosts for having manels.

In May this year, Nanjira who also writes in one of Kenya’s leading newspapers wrote an opinion piece calling out event organisers and the media on manels

If perception is reality, then many would be forgiven for subconsciously thinking that female experts are unicorns.

By this, I refer to the persistently nefarious issue of the representation of women in conferences, newsrooms and board rooms alike.

Soon after penning that article, Nanjira  started the hashtag #SayNoToManelsKE in a bid to put a spotlight on this issue.


No Country for women
In Kenya, things have gotten so bad that male politicians are vying for ‘Women Representative’ political positions


A list of Kenyan Women Speakers
A few days ago, Ory Okolloh Mwangi set up a Google form for women interested in speaking engagements to sign up

Yes its important to call out Manels but its even more important to  provide a solution by having a list of women who are capable and willing to speak for event organisers and media to use.

If you are woman and are interested in speaking engagements on whatever topic you feel experienced in then fill in your details on this Google form.

If you are organising a conference, talk show and can’t seem to find any women speakers, send an email to saynotomanelske@gmail.com and you shall be provided with a list of women well versed in the sector/topic you are focusing on.

Help us call out these manels and don’t hesitate to

  1. Take a photo of a manel
  2. Tweet the photo using #SaynotoManelsKE
  3. Sign up as a woman speaker (don’t doubt your ability to speak on something you are passionate about)



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