Irene Wairimu Gichingiri from Kenya
25-year-old Irene Wairimu Gichingiri from Kenya holds a Bachelor of Science for Animal Health and Production. To follow her passion for animal welfare, she left her country to work as local coordinator for VETS UNITED in Tanzania.
What made you choose a career in the animal health sector?
Growing up in the upcountry where we had domestic livestock at the farm, my grandfather treated his animals in a special gentle way. He would talk to them and spend most of his time looking after them. As a result, his animals knew his voice and could react to whatever he said as if they understood his language. His empathy made me desire to work with animals when I grew up.
Did you experience any barriers in becoming successful in this field because you are a woman?
Yes, actually so many times! This field is termed to be a man’s job that requires one to be handy and well built. As a petit young lady, it seems impossible to many that I can handle working especially with large animals. You get clients who even doubt your professionalism just because you are female. Some think you are in the wrong career and won’t last long.
Who are your role models in the sector?
Dr. Joan Magero (Head of Animal Welfare Unit at Directorate of Veterinary Services) from Kenya and Dr. Helga Meier from Germany.
They have shown that one can survive in this sector despite the prejudice.
Based on your own experience, what would you advise woman who want to pursue a career in animal health and welfare?
Dive in! It’s not a man’s job. All you need is so much love for animals, discipline and commitment. Believe in yourself even when the world doesn’t. One day they will see your impact. Women are nurturers and we are gifted with empathy hence interpreting animal behavior is easy. It’s the best career you can be in.