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Immaculate Kathomi Murithi is a statistician at the Kenya Revenue Authority and co-founder of the charitable organisation Educate A Rural Girl.


Have you enjoyed numbers/maths/data since you were a child?

Interestingly, I have always been the girl pushed to excel in math, not because I wasn’t good at it, but because, for some reason, I didn’t like it. In primary school, we got whipped a lot over the multiplication table, which made me hate math lessons. However, when selecting courses for university, I still chose a field where I would interact with math. In my third year, I had the best time of my life learning the “designs of experiments” unit in statistics. This unit completely changed my attitude towards math in general. It sparked a curiosity in me that led me to pursue a master’s degree in statistics. Since then, I have never looked back.

As a statistician at the Kenya Revenue Authority, what statistical techniques do you use most in your everyday work?

As a revenue service assistant at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), my role is pivotal in transforming data into revenue. I am primarily involved in data collection using the KOBO toolkit, a versatile tool for gathering data efficiently and accurately in various field conditions. I apply data validation and descriptive analysis reporting in my work at KRA. By leveraging the data collected and analysed, I help KRA develop effective strategies to maximise revenue. This involves identifying potential areas for increasing tax compliance, uncovering revenue leakage, and providing data-driven recommendations to improve operational efficiency.

Can you give us a brief overview of your Educate A Rural Girl project?

Absolutely! Educate A Rural Girl is a community-based organisation that I co-founded with two of my friends. Our mission is to help and mentor young girls from our rural homes, who share similar stories, to not give up on education. The organisation was established during a time when dropout rates were alarmingly high, primarily due to poverty and teenage pregnancies. Our personal success stories of excelling in education despite coming from humble backgrounds serve as relatable and inspirational examples for these girls. We engage in advocacy against menstrual stigmatisation and donate dignity kits to the girls in the schools we visit. Understanding the struggles our mothers faced to keep us in school, we also extend our support to women’s groups. We build their capacities in various activities, particularly agribusiness, which they can leverage to earn a living. Through these initiatives, we aim to create a supportive environment that empowers both the young girls and the women in our community. Currently we have come up with a comprehensive strategic plan that will be implemented in the next five years and I am excited about this new phase of the organisation giving back to the community that brought us up.

If you had the time, funding and relevant dataset, what is a question that you would you love to find an answer for?

Despite significant funding allocated to projects focused on women’s empowerment and the protection of the girl child in sub-Saharan Africa, there is a noticeable absence of research that quantifies their achievements. With the necessary funding and access to relevant datasets, I would seek to answer the question, ‘What are the quantifiable economic, household, and individual-level achievements resulting from girls’ and women’s empowerment initiatives’? This question excites me because it aims to measure the tangible outcomes of empowerment initiatives. Conducting an impact evaluation that quantifies these achievements would provide concrete evidence of the benefits of empowering girls and women. By assessing economic improvements, household advancements, and individual-level progress, we can understand how these initiatives transform lives and communities. This research could inform the design and implementation of more effective empowerment programs, ensuring that resources are allocated to strategies that yield the most significant benefits.

I am co-authoring a paper on measuring women’s empowerment for refugee women living in Nairobi, Kenya, where we have found out that the incidence of women empowerment among refugee women is really low compared to the national incidence. Clearly, I am very passionate about girls’ and women’s empowerment and I am hoping that in future I will specialise in publishing studies that speak to this space.

What’s your best piece of advice for a young graduate statistician or data scientist in Kenya who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Push yourself and be aggressive in seeking opportunities. Don’t doubt your qualifications; instead, keep developing your skills and staying up to date with the latest trends and technologies in data analytics. Mastering the art of data analytics in this changing world of technology is crucial for success in this field. We are living in a time when the country is grappling with unemployment especially among the youth; that extra push to learn a new skill within this space is what will make you stand out. And, lastly, do not be like me, build your online presence early enough; have an online portfolio where you showcase your skills and watch the world conspire to make it happen for you.


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