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86 AND

COUNTING
WOMEN LEADERS IN
THE 11TH PARLIAMENT
86 AND
COUNTING
WOMEN LEADERS IN
THE 11TH PARLIAMENT
Acknowledgements
The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) would like to thank the UN Women Country
Director, Ms Zebib Kavuma, Ms Ursula Sore-Bahati and Ms Zipporah Musau for their unfailing support
and confidence in AMWIK.

We acknowledge the support and cooperation of all women legislators who availed themselves for
interviews and were at hand to ensure the success of this work.

This publication would not have been successfully completed without the active support of the following:

Dr Wambui Jane Thuo and Lilian Juma for their initial input in the development of this publication;

Writers, Born Maina, Caroline Wafula, Fatma Amiyo, Florence Gichoya, John Ngirachu, Julia Wanjeri,
Lucy Kilalo, Lucy Maroncha, Margaret Mwangi, Mercy Njoroge, Moraa Obiria, Musembi Nzengu, Naomi
Kamau, Njeri Rugene, Rachael Nakitare, Stephen Makabila, Tabitha Onyinge and Yvonne Mwende.

Editors, Tabitha Onyinge, Murugi Murekio, Pamela Mburia and Helen Mudora Obande for the analysis,
editing and proof-reading of the profiles.

Designers, Virginia Mborura and Emily Odongo; and the overall coordination of AMWIK Executive
Director, Helen Mudora Obande, and Deputy Chairperson of the board of AMWIK, Tabitha Onyinge.
Acronyms
AFC - Agricultural Finance Corporation
AMWIK - Association of Media Women in Kenya
APK - Alliance Party of Kenya
CDF - Constituency Development Fund
CORD - Coalition for Reforms and Democracy
CSO - Civil Society Organization
ECK - Electoral Commission of Kenya
FGM - Female Genital Mutilation
FORD - Forum for Restoration of Democracy
GGP - Gender & Governance Programme
GJLOS - Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector Reform Programme
GTZ - German Technical Cooperation
IUCN - World Conservation Union
JKUAT - Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
KANU - Kenya African National Union
KBC - Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
KEWOPA - Kenya Women Parliamentary Association
KICC - Kenyatta International Conference Centre
KNCHR - Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
KNUT - Kenya National Union of Teachers
LEGCO - Legislative Council
MP - Member of Parliament
NGO - Non-governmental Organisation
ODM - Orange Democratic Movement
ODM-K - Orange Democratic Party of Kenya
PNU - Party of National Unity
RMS - Royal Media Service
SONU - Students Organisation of Nairobi University
TNA - The National Alliance Party
UDF - United Democratic Forum
UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UoN - University of Nairobi
URP - United Republican Party
COUNTY MPS
Aisha Katana, Kilifi 01 Hellen Chepkwony, Kericho 33 Reginalda Wanyonyi, Bungoma 65
Alice Chae, Nyamira 03 Jane Machira, Laikipia 35 Rose Mitaru, Embu 67
Annah Gatheca, Kiambu 05 Janet Nangabo, Trans Nzoia 37 Rose Museo, Makueni 69
Beatrice Nyaga, Tharaka Nithi 07 Joyce Emanikor, Turkana 39 Rose Ogendo, Kisumu 71
Cecilia Ngetich, Bomet 09 Joyce Lay ,Taita Taveta 41 Roselinda Soipan, Narok 73
Christine Ombaka, Siaya 11 Maison Leshoomo, Samburu 43 Sabina Chege, Muranga 75
Dennitah Ghati, Migori 13 Mary Mbugua, Nakuru 45 Shakila Mohammed, Lamu 77
Dorcas Kedogo, Vihiga 15 Mary Keraa, Kisii 47 Shukran Gure, Garissa 79
Eusilah Ngeny, Uasin Gishu 17 Mary Seneta, Kajiado 49 Susan Chebet, Marakwet 81
Fathia Mahbub, Mandera 19 Mishi Juma, Mombasa 51 Susan Musyoka, Machakos 83
Fatuma Ibrahim, Wajir 21 Nasra Ibren, Marsabit 53 Tiyah Galgalo, Isiolo 85
Florence Kajuju, Meru 23 Nyiva Mwendwa, Kitui 55 Wanjiku Muhia, Nyandarua 87
Florence Mutua, Busia 25 Priscilla Nyokabi, Nyeri 57 Winnie Njuguna, Kirinyaga 89
Gladys Wanga, Homabay 27 Rachel Ameso, Kakamega 59 Zainab Chidzuga, Kwale 91
Grace Kiptui, Baringo 29 Rachel Shebesh, Nairobi 61 Zipporah Kering, Nandi 93
Halima Duri, Tana River 31 Regina Nyeris, West Pokot 63

SENATORS (NOMINATED)
Agnes Zani 137 Halima Abdille 155
CONSTITUENCY AND NOMINATED MPS Beth Mugo 139 Janet Ongera 157
Alice Nganga, Thika Town 95 Hellen Sambili, Mogotio 109 Naomi Shaban, Taveta 123 Catherine Mukiite 141 Joy Gwendo 159
Alice Wahome, Kandara 97 Janet Teiyaa, Nominated 110 Peris Tobiko, Kajiado East 125 Daisy Kanainza 143 Judith Sijeny 161
Amina Abdalla, Nominated 99 Jessica Mbalu, Kibwezi East 113 Rachel Nyamai, Kitui South 127 Elachi, Beatrice 145 Liz Chelule 163
Cecily Mbarire, Runyenjes 101 Joyce Laboso, Sotik 115 Regina Nthambi, Kilome 129 Elizabeth Ongoro 147 Martha Wangari 165
Esther Gathogo, Ruiru 103 Mary Emaase, Teso South 117 Sara Korere, Nominated 131 Emma Mbura 149 Mvita Mshenga 167
Esther Murugi, Nyeri Town 105 Mary Wambui, Othaya 119 Sunjeev Birdi, Nominated 133 Fatuma Dullo 151 Naisula Lesuuda 169
Grace Kipchoim, Baringo South 107 Millie Odhiambo, Mbita 121 Zuleikha Juma, Nominated 135 Godliver Omondi 153 Zipporah Kittony 171
Foreword
nominated. With an increase from 9.8% compilation of AMWIK, this book provides
to 19% representation, Kenya is now an opportunity for women legislators to
ranked 76th of the top 100 countries gain national and international visibility
in the World Classification of Women and support. It is a unique opportunity
in National Parliaments. The marked to document the journeys of the women
progress, a result of years of hard work to leadership as well as their contribution
by different stakeholders in the womens to Kenyan politics, and the development
movement, deserves celebration. of the country. This work enriches our
As we applaud this noble achievement, understanding of the challenges and
it is important to note that the struggle for complexities that women face as they find
gender equality is still far from over. The their space within the realm of leadership
number of women in Parliament remains that is predominantly male. We believe
inconsequential in comparison to 81% that these inspiring stories will spur
of men at the National Assembly and more women to the center of political
73% at Senate. The 19% representation leadership.
of women therefore remains below the AMWIK is grateful to all the women
Constitutional bare minimum of 33% who selflessly shared their lives with us.
provided by the Constitution of Kenya We also appreciate the support from UN
Out of the eleven elections that have 2010. The enforcement of the legal Women, DIAKONIA and Heinrich Bll
been held in Kenya since independence, provisions and gains that were hard-won Stiftung in promoting the visibility of
the 2013 election will remain significant by the womens movement remains an women leaders at the local and national
in Kenyas electoral history. The uphill task that all players must address levels. We look forward to enhanced
Constitution of Kenya 2010 set the legal in order to realize fairness in political collaboration among the women political
framework for promoting gender equality, representation. leaders, grassroots women civil society
which has seen a record eighty six woman The sweeping changes in political organizations, the media and development
elected and nominated to the eleventh opportunities for women over the past partners in a sustained vigilance that will
Parliament. This number surpasses the 50 years are mirrored through the guarantee gender-based results in the
total number of women representatives in individual stories of the eighty six women 11th Parliament and more women leaders
the fifty years of independence combined. parliamentarians. 86 and Counting: in the coming election.
In the last ten parliaments, Kenya has Women Leaders in the 11th Parliament ,
had a total of seventy five women, fifty documents the stories, challenges and Helen Mudora Obande
of them elected while the other 25 were opportunities of women in leadership. A Executive Director, AMWIK
ASSOCIATION OF MEDIA WOMEN
IN KENYA (AMWIK) 86 AND COUNTING
House No. 6, Wendy Court,
David Osieli Road, Westlands WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT
P.O. Box 10327-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: + 254 020 4441226/ 86 And Counting: Women Leaders in the 11th Parliament is produced with financial
0722 201958/0737201958
support of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Fax: +254 020 4441227
(UN Women) through the Gender and Governance Programme (GGP).
Email: info@amwik.org
Website: www.amwik.org
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form, except for brief quotation in books and critical reviews,
EDITORS:
Tabitha Onyinge, without the prior permission of the Association of Media Women in Kenya.
Murugi Murekio
Pamela Mburia Applications for the right to reproduce or translate this work or parts thereof are welcome
and should be sent to the Association of Media Women in Kenya.
DESIGNERS
Virginia Borura Opinions expressed do not necessarily constitute the official position of the Association of
Emily Odongo
Media Women in Kenya.
Published by the Association of
Media Women in Kenya
Association of Media Women in
Kenya 2014

ISBN 978-9966-149-14-5
1|COUNTY MPS
86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

A
s a young girl, Kilifi
County MP, Aisha
Katana enjoyed
watching her father
compose songs,
perform and dance
his heart out while
campaigning for the area councilor. Years
later her father was elected the chairman
of the local land adjudication scheme
and Aisha could tell that he had power
and influence on matters of development.
Only 22 years old then, Aisha decided
that the only place from which she could
make a lasting impact on her society was
from a position of power. She decided to
work towards becoming a political leader.
I searched for and found a place at the
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture
and Technology (JKUAT) where I
studied for a certificate course in county
governance, she recalls.
With knowledge in governance,
Aisha sharpened her leadership skills
while running Kaseru Enterprises, a
construction company based in Kilifi.
She also joined KANU as a youth leader.
She was elected twice the councilor for
AISHA KATANA
Takaungu Ward and served between 1997
and 2007. I only lost the seat in 2007
KILIFI
due to the ODM euphoria that had swept
the country, she states with confidence. reason she joined and vied on the ODM the MPs development track record also
Joining politics young has sharpened the Party platform. From a crowded field of played a significant role in getting her
skills of the 38-year-old politician, and eleven candidates, she captured the Kilifi to Parliament. During her three-year term
she confidently says that she vied for the County Women Representative seat with as the chairperson of Kilifi Town Council,
Kilifi County MP seat assured of victory. a whopping 36,705 votes. Her closest between 2005 and 2007, Aisha initiated
In preparation for the 2013 election, challenger got 14,589 votes. Experience many projects, as well as completing
Aisha surveyed the political situation has helped me identify mistakes that I many others that had stalled for many
in the country, and her county well. must never make in politics, she reveals. years. She is remembered for completing
Once beaten twice shy, she admits the Apart from choosing the right party, the Kilifi Car Park, numerous stalled

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water projects as well as renovating that ODM built its name in the county Aisha promised to empower the rural
many rural access roads. Recognising the and made it easy to sell to the people, woman and girl child in Kilifi County, if
importance of empowering local people she notes. The MP recalls being insulted, voted into Parliament, and has kept her
through education, she also improved called many unkind names, and being word. She has helped women and youth
Vuma Primary School. She also initiated physically manhandled, especially in her register new development groups through
the construction of Takangu Dispensary, opponents stronghold. Politics is not which she avails to them professional
which she later ensured was operational. for the faint hearted, the fiasco during advice. She has also initiated a program
Aishas passion for childrens rights party nomination wore me out, she adds, to educate the youth and women on the
runs parallel with that of politics. She citing mudslinging, voter buying and application process of the Uwezo Fund
does not miss an opportunity to advise back stabbing as big impediments to and the Women Enterprise Fund, and how
parents in her county to ensure that women vying for political office. Contrary to utilize it for their development.
all their children get an education. It to her expectation, Aisha discovered that Kilifi County is home to the seven
is a shame for a bright child to stay at her supporters were mainly the youth and Mijikenda Communities - Rabai, Ribe,
home for lack of school fees and other men. Kambe, Jibana, Kauma, Chonyi and
basic requirements needed for their Giriama. Although the county is endowed
education. Parents and teachers in Kilifi with vast resources, ranging from arable
County should bring out these bright land to mineral deposits and world-class
children to ensure they get the necessary beaches for the lucrative tourism industry,
support from the county government, the county is saddled with many problems,
she says. Aisha has noted that a high It is a shame for among them landlessness, high rates of
number of bright children fail to further a bright child to poverty and lack of water for domestic
their education in the county, despite and agricultural use. Aisha knows that
performing well in national examinations, stay at home for residents of the county look up to her and
and appeals to parents, teachers and lack of school fees fellow leaders in the 11th Parliament to
other guardians to help leaders address and other basic steer them out of those many problems.
education challenges in the county. Hon Aisha Katana who is a member of
The abovementioned achievements requirements KEWOPA, the Environment and Natural
do not mean she got the seat on a needed for their Resources Committee, as well as the
silver platter. Political parties have education. Labour and Social Welfare Committee,
owners and campaigns need finances, attended Takangu Primary School and
she shares of her financial need during later Ganze Secondary School and Nyali
the campaign. I depleted my savings Senior School, before joining JKUAT for
during the campaign, but Im grateful her certificate course.

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cultural challenges that hold them back.


The MP traces her beginnings
into leadership to her student days in
Nyanchwa Primary School and Kereri
Girls High School. Fellow learners loved
and always confided in her when they
had personal problems that needed the
school administrations attention.
In 1997, she joined the national
broadcaster, KBC, as a volunteer in the
radio section. She rose through the ranks
to become the head of the Ekegusii sub-
service station.
Nine years later, in 2006, she
accepted a position at Royal Media
Services Egesa FM, which broadcasts
in Ekegusii. Making the move from the
national broadcaster to Egesa FM was
difficult because I feared taking risks,
she confides.
Alice credits radio for making her
who she is today. She says, I was the
voice of the Kisii people for a long time.
I am who I am because of radio, and will

ALICE CHAE
always remain faithful and grateful to all
those who gave me the opportunity to
grow, says Hon Chae, who also served
NYAMIRA as a board member of the Association of
Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK).

W
As the head of Egesa FM, she
translated news from English to Kisii and
hen she was turned out to be an accomplished dream. aired the current Kenyan Constitution in
10 years Hon Chae did buy them a television set, its draft form, for audiences. The aim was
old, Alice but they dont watch her read the news; to ensure that the listeners understood all
N y a nchoka they watch her make the news. the provisions, especially the gains for
C h a e Born in Riangombe Village of Borabu women, in the new Constitution.
promised District in Nyamira County in 1968, Hon It is this work around the Constitution
her parents Chae is among the youthful politicians that triggered her interest in politics.
that she would buy them a television on expected to sustain the onslaught of Before that, getting into politics had
which they would watch her read the pushing the level of women representation never crossed her mind, considering that
news. She now laughs at the joke that in elective politics higher, amid the socio- no woman from her Kisii community had

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ever been elected into political office. youth in productive activities, and work She lauds AMWIK for preparing her
When I announced my intention to with other elected leaders to alleviate the and other female political aspirants for the
vie for a political position, men started high level of poverty in the county. She political leadership. Thanks to AMWIKs
calling me derogatory names. They plans to rally all leaders (winners and capacity building initiatives, I gained
said that women who join politics are losers) through the common agenda of courage to move from KBC to Egesa FM,
untameable, she says. supporting women. and to make the bold step to join the male
By the time she joined Egesa FM, Alice has a lot of admiration for Hon dominated politics, she says. Alice is a
Alice had already made up her mind, Lina Jebii Kilimo, because of her effort member of the Parliamentary Accounts
and she was determined to become a to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Committee (PAC), chaired by Budalangi
politician. The many hours she spent on I could identify with every cause Hon MP Ababu Namwamba. She also sits in
air engaging with audiences helped her Kilimo champions because I was a victim the Joint Parliamentary Broadcasting and
personalise relationships with listeners, of the same, she states. Alice has been Library Committee and is a member of
and understand what their needs were. verbally abused and called names for KEWOPA. The MP promises to use her
She addressed issues that were pertinent publicly speaking against FGM, but says, position in those committees to safeguard
to women, encouraging them to speak men hardly talk about it because they the interests of women and her colleagues
out. have alternatives. in the broadcasting industry.
The outspoken politician believes Recognising the strength in
in saying it as it is, especially when it collaboration, Alice is working closely
affects people. with colleagues in the 11th Parliament
The communication skills honed during to bring Motions and Bills that will
her time as a radio presenter helped her enhance the womens constituency. The
win over the Nyamira electorate, who prayerful legislator encourages all leaders
describe her as a down to earth person, to pursue their dreams. She reckons every
ready to listen and who takes time to offer leader worth their name must have a
practical solutions. She contested her seat vision that drives them. She recommends
on an ODM Party ticket.
I could identify
incorporating former MPs into KEWOPA
Due to high population, most youth with every cause to mentor new legislators, as it would
in Nyamira County are jobless and the Hon Kilimo give them the opportunity to learn from
former broadcaster hopes to empower past mistakes, mend broken bridges and
them to create self-sustainable economic
champions
build future strategies together.
projects. She would also like to see because I was Currently a student of Communication
improved infrastructure, clean water and a victim of the and Public Relations at the University
better returns for local farmers through of Nairobi, Hon Chae holds a Diploma
training on how to add value to their
same.
in Television Production from the Kenya
produce. She plans to focus on revamping Institute if Mass Communication (KIMC).
the agricultural sector since the county When she is not legislating, she composes
is endowed with fertile soil and hard- gospel songs.
working people who toil on land yet get Her first single Naom omosomba
very low returns. o nyasae was released in 2009. She is
Hon Chae hopes to use her term in working on a Kiswahili one that should
Parliament to engage women and the be released soon.

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A
fter her election
as Kiambu
County Women
Representative, Hon
Annah Nyokabi
offered her salary
for the first three
months to feed needy families within her
county. This benevolent gesture benefitted
the physically challenged, orphaned and
vulnerable children and the elderly.
Explaining why she donated her
salaries to her electorate, the MP says, I
reasoned that I would feed them for the
first three months and thereafter teach
them how to tap business opportunities in
ways, however small. Her goal, she says,
was to encourage these families to start
small businesses like poultry and rabbit
keeping as well as selling vegetables in
the local markets and to each other in
their neighborhoods.
Niece to the first president of Kenya,
the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Annah won

ANNAH GATHECA
the Kiambu seat on a TNA Party ticket
with over 400,000 votes. She says that her
party choice was automatic. It had to be
TNA because it was the dominant party
in Kiambu, and she wanted to support KIAMBU
her cousin, then presidential candidate,
Uhuru Kenyatta.
Annah says that she owes her she had advised her supporters not to make them feel at home when no adult
achievements mostly to the youth who retaliate. I opted to speak about myself was at home, she remembers. As a
spent months campaigning for her. I and my manifesto for the Kiambu people, student at Loreto High School in Limuru,
cant repay them for the great support she discloses. young Annah was an active member of
they gave me during my campaign, Born in the 60s, Annah is the second the United Nations Debating Club. She
she says. Her promise to her supporters born in a family of six. Her father was then proceeded to the York University in
was that she would enhance avenues of a district officer. She made a name for Canada for a Bachelor of Arts Degree,
employment and access to marketing herself in the neighbourhood because of followed by post-graduate studies in
opportunities. Though other aspirants her hospitability. Even before I joined International Business Management at the
used abusive language to intimidate her, school, I could serve tea to visitors and Seneca College, also in Canada.

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Today, the Kiambu Women advises that people should never despise became a parliamentarian. Although a
Representative prides herself in having a humble beginning. It is from this lot of resources have been poured into
started the Kiambu Women Sacco that small scale farming that we are going enhancing womens leadership, there is a
has attracted over 5000 members. She to get international, she observes. lot that needs to be done to ensure more
believes that her background in finance Annah believes that the main reason the women are represented in Parliament, she
will bolster her efforts to revive the electorate sent her to Parliament was for observes.
almost lost industrious glory in Kiambu, a her to be their voice. I speak my views The MP is a member of the Defense
county renowned for its great agricultural gently yet very firmly, she notes. and Foreign Relations Committee, which
produce. She has laid plans to help Her orientation in Parliament was deals with regional integration and
women groups embark on cattle, poultry not easy. Learning the parliamentary development of relations within Africa,
and vegetable farming with an eye for language and its general setting, she thanks to her training in the field. She
international market. She observes that says, was one of her greatest challenges. was very vocal and supportive of the
farming is a lucrative business despite the In a new place, one is bound to feel Marriage Bill, which was enacted in
high number of competitors. I always tell lost and confused, she laughs at herself. May 2014. The Bill protects the entire
women groups in my county to be ahead She however is grateful to the Center family. I strongly believe that there are
of their competitors and hold on to their for Rights Education and Awareness no illegitimate children but parents can
idea until a project is fully hatched, she and the Regional Women Assembly for be illegitimate thus the more reason all
reveals. Her major objective is to create the grounding they gave her before she marriages should be registered for the
avenues for employment and a money benefit of the children, the wife and
saving culture especially for women and mother of three reiterates. She says that
the youth. I always tell women children should not be victims of their
A qualified life-skills and counselling parents actions, adding that with the
groups in my county
expert, Annah has taken her time to registration of every marriage, children
educate the youth on life skills as a to be ahead of their as well as women will be protected.
measure to put a stop to drug abuse and competitors and Annah advises women who aspire for
criminal activities among them. This, political seats that they should start early
hold on to their idea
she has successfully done as most young and be involved in political issues long
people have already started earning until a project is fully before they go public on their intentions.
honest living from their small scale hatched, she reveals. This will improve their popularity and
farming and other productive activities. win them more supporters ahead of the
Quoting the Bible, the staunch Catholic elections, she concludes.

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U
ntil 2012, Beatrice
Nyaga was a career
civil servant. For
30 years, she had
worked at the
Government Press
section, Office of
the President. She retired early to plunge
into politics, determined to exploit the
new opportunity for women - the Women
Representative position. Mr Francis
Kimemia, my PS (permanent secretary)
then, was surprised that I could take such
a decision. He only wished me well, she
recalls.
Competition for the seat was stiff.
One of my fiercest opponents, a former
councillor, was more experienced in
elective politics, recalls Beatrice. That
notwithstanding, she emerged victorious
as the Tharaka Nithi County Women
Representative. Today she sits at the top
of womens politics in the county, having
overcome deep-seated sub tribe suspicions
and village politics that characterised the
voting pattern in the county. Soft spoken,
Beatrice knows that her leadership skills,
BEATRICE NYAGA
which she puts to work for the service of
the electorate, will determine her chances
THARAKA NITHI
in the next election, and does them with
a passion. East African Standard. Maybe if I had After her stint at the Standard,
Born in 1957, Beatrice is the first born real examples of people in better careers, Beatrice got a job at the Government
in a family of nine children. She had I would have done better, she says. Press, where she rose up the ladder to the
few mentors growing up. My childhood Because of the humble circumstances of post of deputy Government printer. She
ambition was to become a secretary. I her family, Beatrice swapped her dream is the first woman to hold the position.
admired those who worked in offices, to pursue higher education with seeking From 1989 to 1991 she received training
she narrates. After completing secondary employment in order to educate her in printing administration in the United
education at Kangeta Girls School, she siblings. It was about those at the top Kingdom. Two years later, she went to
pursued a secretarial course and was giving space to those at the bottom, she the United States for an advanced course
hired on a temporary assignment at the remembers. in security printing technology. Beatrice

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also pursued several management courses collaboration with other area leaders
at the Kenya School of Government (then Paradoxically, Tharaka Nithi has more
Kenya Institute of Administration). In than 10 rivers running across it yet it
2005, then President of Kenya, Mwai has one of the hugest water problems
I am planning to
Kibaki, decorated her with the Head of in Eastern Kenya. We are working on revive at least two
State Commendation (HSC) medal. reducing the agony endured by women polytechnics in
On the campaign trail, Beatrice in the county once and for all, says the
mobilised the support of women of MP. She has a special heart for the youth.
every constituency
Maara, a region where she had initiated I am planning to revive at least two so that the youth
more than 25 women groups to do table polytechnics in every constituency so that can be trained on
banking. The women pool their money as the youth can be trained on vocational
a group and subsequently give each other skills. She is pained to see some foreign
vocational skills.
loans at a low and affordable interest rate. contractors importing labour on claims
It is a simple but sure way to empower that they cannot find semi-skilled workers
rural women. Anyone able to contribute in Kenya.
something can access a loan from among In Parliament, Hon Nyaga is a member relationship between them irrespective
her peers, she explains. of the Public Investments Committee and of their party affiliation. Out there,
She plans to extend this to the whole Defence and Foreign Relations Committee. the public thinks some do not see eye
of Tharaka Nithi Constituency. My She has received a lot of moral support to eye with each other, yet they mingle
projection is to have 30 such groups in from members of KEWOPA. Our bigger very freely here. In fact, differences only
each of the three constituencies. I have sisters (women MPs who have served occur on the floor of the house, she
embarked on the programme and by the previous terms in Parliament) have been says. As an MP, she now understands
end of my term, I will have achieved it, mentoring us. They are showing us the why some elected leaders do not fulfil
she says confidently. way and we are learning quickly, she all their promises. The government is
Beatrice hopes to improve access says. very bureaucratic. Some of the things we
to water for her constituents. This, she One interesting observation she promise the public can take eternity to
acknowledges, will be possible through has made is that MPs have a cordial implement, she explains.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

that she admires and is inspired by the


British Royal Family, especially the rule
of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. This,
she says, is what motivated her to join
politics. The Royal Family is of course
a powerful family and I was impressed
by the power it wielded. I wanted to rise
to the challenge and be in a position of
leadership, she says.
To win the Bomet County MPs seat,
she chose the United Republican Party
(URP) as her political vehicle, going by
its grass-root popularity not only in the
county, but also in the expansive Rift
Valley Province. Apart from the partys
popularity, URP leaders and the Jubilee
coalition leaders also came down to
campaign for me, boosting my chances,
she explains. Fellow teachers and former
students from across the county also
provided her with immense support that
led to her victory.
Because the position of County Women
Representative was a new elective post

CECILIA NGETICH during the 2013 general election, many of


her constituents did not understand what
it entailed, causing Cecilia to step up
BOMET and provide civic education even as she
campaigned for the seat. This proved to be

S
a challenge as I had to move through all the
five constituencies of Sotik, Konoin, Bomet
he held multiple Girls Secondary schools. In 2004, the Central, Bomet East and Chepalungu,
positions in the Kenya National Examination Council adds the accomplished teacher.
education sector before honoured her for quality hospitality Her good oratory skills, honed over
venturing into politics: service, and in August 2009, the Nairobi- years of addressing many meetings,
she served as a principal based Centre for Mathematics, Science helped her to communicate effectively
in various schools and Technology Education in Africa with the different constituents. It was
and teachers training (CEMASTEA) appointed her the director. not difficult to drive my messages home
colleges, including the Narok Teachers Hon Cecilia Ngetich, the Bomet and convince voters that I was best suited
Training College, Mogotio High School, County Women Representative, is an to be their first representative for the new
Moi Forces Academy, Lanet and Kaplong accomplished educationist who says position in Parliament, she says.

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According to Cedcilia, most of her believe its a challenge bestowed on me Associations such as KEWOPA,
supporters were women and the youth. to give the best, both in the House and in according to the MP, should play a lead
Women were keen because they want committee sittings, for the benefit of the role in mentorship to boost the number
empowerment while the youth want country, she says. of women in political leadership. In
employment. Among the promises she She calls on women to be ready for Parliament, we have a cordial working
made to the Bomet electorate were to political competition, given that their relationship with our male counterparts
improve education standards, support the representation in elective politics is but we are fighting the women
girl-child against female circumcision and still low. We are not near the one-third representative tag. We want to be referred
early marriages, as well as empowering minimum gender provision when it to as MPs just like others. We have no
women to gain economic stability. comes to representation in the National clear roles as women MPs and therefore
I want to help women to establish Assembly. Women should go for all require defined roles. My personal view
an enterprise fund through collective elective positions, whether in the Senate, is that we should reduce the number of
capacity building, help the youth to form Parliament, or becoming governors in constituencies and double the number of
cooperative savings and credit societies years to come. Self-drive is going to be women elected in each county from one
and make the right career choices. My our greatest weapon, notes Cecilia. to two to boost the number of women
background in education will come in and come closer to the required one third
handy, adds the MP. gender representation in Parliament, she
Emerging as an active debater in explains.
Parliament, Cecilia has contributed to Women should On her vision for Bomet County, the
several Bills and Motions, in addition go for all elective legislator says: I want to serve Bomet
to her maiden speech and contribution for the next five years, seek another term
on the presidential speech. We expect
positions, whether in 2017 before retiring from politics.
tougher debates and I am equal to the in the Senate, My vision for Bomet is to initiate table
task when it comes to articulating issues Parliament, banking where women can pool resources
of relevance to those who elected me and provide loans amongst themselves at
and Kenyans in general, states Cecilia.
or becoming lower interest rates, she notes. The MP
She is a member of three Parliamentary governors in years to adds that her greatest joy at retirement after
committees: the House Business come. Self-drive is going to her envisaged two terms in the National
Committee, the Education Committee, Assembly would be to leave the women
and the Regional Integration Committee.
be our greatest weapon. and the youth in Bomet enlightened and
As a member of these committees, I economically empowered.

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A
n award winning
poet, accomplished
social scientist,
university lecturer
and author of various
publications: a few
exemplary accolades
of Dr Christine Ombaka, the Siaya County
Womens Representative. She is credited
with the achievements as a lecturer at
the Maseno University before she made
the move to pursue and win the seat. She
modestly describes herself as a self-made
social scientist with vast experience in
research and gender issues.
As a young girl growing up in Gem
in Siaya, Dr Ombaka admired her teachers
and wanted to become one when she
grew up. I remember teaching children
in my village under a tree, she says.
Christine attended Highlands High School
(today Moi Girls School Eldoret). Our
headmistress, Mrs Robinson, had a habit
of wearing her graduation gown every
Friday during the morning assembly. I
always admired her outfit and told myself
that one day I would wear a graduation
gown just like her.
CHRISTINE OMBAKA
At the University of Nairobi she realised
her dream to become a teacher, when she
SIAYA
completed an undergraduate degree in
education. I have always been passionate
about teaching and as a teacher I rose several schools, she received a scholarship consultancy work. She conducted many
through the ranks to become a principal at to study for a Master of Arts Degree in activities in the Nyanza region, aimed at
Sinyolo Girls Secondary School in Kisumu. Linguistics and Communication from stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS. She
Dr Ombaka equates being a teacher Lancaster University, in the United would go to schools and give motivational
to being a leader because students see Kingdom. After obtaining the degree, I talks to students to keep off drugs and
teachers as role models. Teachers shape joined Moi University as a lecturer. Later irresponsible sexual behaviour. She has
students in many ways. Her vision and I moved to Maseno University as a senior a PhD in Linguistics and Communication
mission was to serve and inspire students lecturer and was head of Communication from Irish International University.
just like Mrs Robinson had done many and Media Department, she explains. In September 2012, she made the
years ago. In 1990, after teaching in As a lecturer, Dr Ombaka did a lot of bold move and resigned from Maseno

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University to vie for the Siaya Womens portray as a politician, while her sister-in- conflict and insecurity. It is imperative
Representative post. The nomination law came from the USA to help her review that members of Parliament make laws that
process had its fair share of challenges, her campaign strategy. I owe it to my will benefit Kenyans and not politicians
she reveals. After winning the ODM family and friends for being dependable selfish interests. We also need to bridge
Party ticket, her nomination certificate and I would not have done it without the gap on affirmative action with not just
mysteriously disappeared. She travelled to them, she says. numbers but also quality leadership, she
Nairobi to trace it. Joining the political The positive media coverage she notes.
contest has been the biggest challenge in received was a major boost for her Dr Ombaka serves in the Education,
my life. I had resigned from my job and campaign. One of the national dailies Research and Technology Committee and
did not have a salary, in case one loses the did an elaborate profile about me. I the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. I
contest that means its back to square one. was also interviewed several times by am also the treasurer of KEWOPA, which
On the campaign trail, Dr Ombaka Mayienga FM and during the radio shows played a key role in inducting women MPs
received overwhelming support from both I had the opportunity to talk about my on how to participate in Parliament and
men and women. Women voters were not agenda, she explains. Her focus areas how to come up with Motions, contribute
always reliable and they criticised me too were education, economic empowerment in debates and general conduct.
much compared to men. The men were and health, especially maternal and HIV Away from politics, Dr Ombaka is the
interested in knowing what my plans were and AIDS. Siaya has very high rates of founder of Nyako Ber Foundation, which
for the people of Siaya. I learnt that it was infant mortality and I am working to see means a girl is valuable. I am currently
easier to convince men by relating with those numbers reduce, she says. educating 30 students by paying their
history and visualising for them what I Her experience in Parliament, she says, school fees and also following up on their
would achieve. I would remind them that has been very exciting. I found myself studies to ensure that they excel, says the
Nyanza region elected the first woman in a new world where people speak their MP. She has also introduced table-banking
in Parliament and history had indicated mind without supporting evidence. Being projects in Siaya, which has empowered
women were good leaders, she says. an academician I always speak based on many women and their families. She is keen
Christine was also the subject of verbal facts and statistics, so it is interesting to to look for funds to rehabilitate primary
abuse. My opponents tried to intimidate see legislators debate motions without schools whose classrooms are falling apart.
me. Others spread unfounded propaganda evidence, Dr Ombaka regrets. I would I am in talks with MPs of the areas where
and rumours about me, organising people like to see constant leadership training the schools are located, she reveals.
to heckle me whenever I addressed a public because there are emerging issues in Improving the education standards will
gathering. It was very disappointing but I the country, for instance, concerns on translate into an empowered community
chose to soldier on, she recalls. and society, the parliamentarian says.
I am grateful to my family who For those who want to vie in the 2017
supported me financially, and my friends general election, Hon Ombaka advises
who also contributed to the campaign Be strategic when that they should start preparing early.
kitty, she says. The MP thanks her former Be strategic when choosing the position
students who voluntarily gave her ideas choosing the to vie for, and the political party to run
on production of campaign materials position to vie for, with. Her role model is Winnie Mandela
like posters and t-shirts. The students who did a lot in liberating South Africa
actively campaigned for her and gave her
and the political from apartheid. She also admires former
free coverage in the Maseno University party to run with. presidential candidate, Martha Karua,
newspaper. Her elder sister gave her tips educationist, Eddah Gachukia, and veteran
on how to dress, and the public image to politician, Phoebe Asiyo.

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The patron of Kuria Women for Raila,


a lobby group she set up to campaign for
Raila Odingas presidential bid, Dennitah
says that she could not have chosen any
other party.
ODM was and still is my political
vehicle of choice for my political ambition
because of its strength in the county
and its ideologies. It also captured the
aspirations of the people in my county.
The secretary general of ODM
Mashinani Migori branch, explains that
for women in politics, the choice to belong
in a political party is important, as it is
difficult to sail through as an independent
candidate. For any serious contender,
being in a political party propels you.
The county MP has long fought for
the rights of women and the girl child
in Kuria region, and by extension, South
Nyanza region. She has campaigned
against FGM and child marriages, and has
been a strong defender of the girl childs
education. The MP does this through the

DENNITAH GHATI
Education Centre for the Advancement of
Women (ECAW), a womens rights NGO
based in her county, which she founded
MIGORI and chairs. It also promotes womens
economic rights and empowerment. To

D
her, ECAW was the realisation of her
vision for the rural girl and woman.
ennitah Ghati, member of ODM, the MP is from the Dennitah is driven by a desire to
the no nonsense Kuria community, a minority group in defend and promote the wellbeing of
34-year-old Migori the county. She believes that she won the women and girls in her community
County Women hearts of the people largely due to her through providing safe spaces for their
Representative, ideology. I respect the people and they development and also empowering young
won the coveted respect me too. They saw a lot of hope women to take their rightful place at the
seat following what and trust in me, she says. decision-making table.
she calls intense but well organised Dennitah won the seat with 189,457 She believes that for any meaningful
campaigns in a largely Luo dominated votes against her closest challengers development to occur, women must be at
county. An ardent supporter and life 58,976 votes. the centre.

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As an elected member of parliament, empowerment, Dennitah says that she of the House, petitions and undertakings
Dennitah says that she will continue will seek to alleviate poverty among given by the Executive.
articulating issues relating to the girl the youth by creating employment, and Hon Ghati holds a Master of Science
child and womens welfare not only in lobbying for affirmative action in the Degree in Social Work and International
her county but also nationally. I know employment of young people and women Affairs from the prestigious Columbia
my election to Parliament comes with in the county government. She also wants University, New York, USA, courtesy of
expanded responsibilities which I am to ensure that 30 per cent of tenders and a scholarship from the Ford Foundations
ready to perform to the best of my ability, contracts in the county go to the youth International Fellowship Program. She
notes the MP. She looks forward to the and women-led companies, in accordance also has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology
continued support of organisations such with the Constitution. Young people from Kenyatta University, and a Diploma
as KEWOPA, to which she is a member, leaving colleges but remaining jobless in Mass Communication from the Kenya
to realise her goal effectively. should be assisted to be useful members Institute of Mass Communication. She
The legislator talks of the need for of society instead of being ruined by is an alumnus of the African Womens
strong mentorship programmes in regions alcoholism and drug abuse. As a leader Leadership Institute and a member of
where negative cultures have chained in the county, I have to find a lasting AMWIK.
women to poverty and suffering. There solution to the problem of unemployment The trained journalist has written and
is much that needs to be done to put among the youth who make up 75 per published several articles in the Kenyan
women and men on an equal footing in cent of Migori Countys population, he media with special attention to women
political and socio-economic spheres. As states. and girls. She has also published a book:
an elected woman MP, I will remain in In a highly cosmopolitan county Girl Centred Program Design: A toolkit
the forefront of championing mentorship like Migori, unity and peace are key to to Develop, strengthen, and expand
programmes for our sisters who have development. For us leaders to succeed, adolescent girls programs.
constrained ambitions for elective there should be unity in the county, and
leadership, she notes. that is what I am advocating for. We have
The priorities of the youthful MP for to join forces to transform the lives of our There is much that
Migori County include the promotion people. I will partner with like-minded
of womens economic empowerment by organisations to promote peace in Migori.
needs to be done to
improving access to loans and grants. We need to appreciate the diversity of our put women and men
She pledges to help women of Migori cultures to be able to move forward, she on an equal footing
establish development groups that can adds.
be used to seek financial assistance to The legislator, who describes herself
in political and socio-
boost their welfare. She will also promote as an extremely ambitious no nonsense economic spheres.
education (especially girl child education) woman, is active both in and outside I will remain in the
by advocating for the improvement of Parliament in articulating development
schools and polytechnics, as well as issues. In the National Assembly, Dennitah
forefront of championing
addressing barriers that hinder girls sits in the House Business Committee mentorship programmes
access to education. She also plans to that sets the Agenda for the House. She for our sisters who have
improve access to water, lamenting that also sits in the Defence and Foreign
no woman should have to walk for over Relations Committee, and is a member of
constrained ambitions for
five kilometres in search of water. the Committee on Implementation, that elective leadership.
A strong believer in youth is responsible for scrutinising resolutions

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T
he warm and gentle
mien of Hon Dorcas
Kedogo, the Women
Representative for Vihiga
County, has endeared her
to her electorate. In fact,
the electorate had keenly
followed her involvement in development
activities even before she thought of joining
elective politics, so they virtually pushed
her into vying for the seat. I had hit 50,
the age at which I had planned to retire
to do my own things. Getting into politics
wasnt even a remote part of my plans, she
says, with amusement.
But the Vihiga County parliamentary
seat was not the first leadership position
the soft-spoken Dorcas had been pushed
into. In 2000, she found herself holding the
post of Women Representative of the Kenya
National Union of Teachers (KNUT) for the
then Vihiga District. She held this position
for three consecutive terms till August 2012,
when she retired from teaching.

DORCAS KEDOGO
Friends encouraged me to seek
KNUT leadership - thats how I ended up
there. They told me that theyd identified
leadership qualities in me, yet I was
refusing to lead them, recalls the former VIHIGA
Mathematics teacher. To avoid the KNUT
election, she not only skipped the first
meeting, but also did not campaign for the and volunteered their services whenever money, Dorcas says that she campaigned
seat. In the end, and against her wishes, they identified a need, she says with with none. Ironically, some of her opponents
she was voted in overwhelmingly, as well as appreciation. She also appreciates the awe- were already well-established politicians who
in the subsequent elections. She served the inspiring support of the people of Vihiga, had loads of money. A few times she got
teachers well during those terms. where she is married, and was a teacher so discouraged that she wanted to give up.
Overwhelmingly again describes in many schools. Long before the new God had favour on me. I didnt have money,
how she got voted into her parliamentary Constitution was put in place, the people and I started my campaign on boda boda
position. Dorcas won by over 12,000 told me that Id one day be their MP; of (public transport motorcycles), she recalls.
votes. I owe my post to the teachers of course I always laughed it off, she recalls. It was the teachers and members of her
Vihiga County. They made me to be where While many women confess to having community who took over the campaigns.
I am today. They campaigned seriously campaigned for their positions with little One of them offered me a small car. But the

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

car kept breaking down, and Id often just states. It only happened after the teachers,
leave it on the road being fixed and trek to her supporters, threatened not to vote for
wherever I was headed to campaign, she Previous regimes ODM in Vihiga.
laughs. Looking back, Dorcas thanks God just gave people One would imagine that having a
for her personality and character, which money for free. That politically established elder brother would
have made her likeable. Im social and make the process easier, but according to
have a passion for people. I always do my does not encourage Dorcas, When youre together in politics,
stuff with others. Thats how Ive left a mark them to work. each one of you has a campaign to run.
wherever I go; and found favour to get into What kept me going was faith, and the
this career that I never even dreamt of, she backing of the voters, she states. Her
discloses humbly. supporters had promised to vote for her
Described as down to earth by Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga, talks from any party. Some Vihiga County MPs
those who know her, Dorcas is also very passionately about her apparent love for the also supported her during the campaign
hard working. She has initiated many people of Vihiga. She has the same love and election.
development projects in Vihiga. Apart from for fellow teachers. I do tell colleagues in The mother of four boys and a girl was
helping to uplift the performance standards Parliament that teachers earn peanuts. Even born in Sabatia in May 1962, and grew
in schools where she has taught, Dorcas with my peanuts, I was still one of the better up in a polygamous family. She started
has also initiated a tissue culture banana off in the profession, says Dorcas. She her education in Juja, now Thiririka Primary
cultivating projects that has quickly spread preferred to serve as a senior teacher, and School till standard six when she transferred to
across Vihiga County. Together with her late not principal, for most of her later career. Munugi Primary School in her hometown. She
husband (also a teacher who passed on in She appreciates the people of Vihiga for did her secondary education at Our Lady of
2004) they started an education project that welcoming her and giving her full support Mercy Secondary School in Kisii, and Equator
has seen many children from poor families even in the absence of her late husband. High School, Thika. The celebrated maths
acquire education. I have assisted many Vihiga Constituency gave me 100 per cent teacher graduated from Mosoriot Teachers
children through school, if I called them of their votes! she acknowledges. Training College with a P1 certificate in 1984,
together theyd fill a school, discloses the When she got into real politics, Dorcas a year before she got married. In 2011, she
legislator. realised that the KNUT politics had made graduated with a degree in Education from
Dorcas continues with the same projects her strong. She had underrated processes the University of Nairobi.
indiscriminately. I dont work with women like choice of a party. Remember, I didnt The former teacher sits in the Education,
alone, or the youth alone, but I work with have a political past, and I wasnt even Research and Technology Committee,
everyone willing to embrace development, prepared for the new Constitution! she as well as the Budget Committee. She is
she says. The MP has devised creative ways notes. The preliminaries were hectic, and reluctant to disclose plans for her political
to work without funds; believing that the at some point I wondered if God really future, but is sure she still wants to work
people have to learn to work for whatever wanted me to vie for the seat, recalls the with the people of Vihiga.
little they receive. Previous regimes just staunch Christian. While training from UN-DEF helped
gave people money for free. That does She settled in ODM two weeks to party her a lot in her campaign, Dorcas is also
not encourage them to work, they have to nominations, with no big team to back her glad that she had politically accomplished
do something, says Dorcas. She has also up, and not having campaigned. But she women like Hon Charity Ngilu, to learn
initiated a rabbit rearing project, as well as won the nomination. After that, getting from. The member of KEWOPA appreciates
a project for women who make beautiful the nomination certificate became another the associations work, but challenges it to
bathroom mats. challenge. I got it after three weeks of do more to train the new entrants on some
The MP, who is the younger sister of shuffling from one office to the other, she tangible skills like fundraising.

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development and provision of services for


the residents of the town. We established
links with other cities, including
Minneapolis in the United States, which
enabled Eldoret municipality to acquire
modern fire-fighting facilities and an
ambulance for our local health facilities,
she says. At one time while serving in
the position in 2011, an ambitious Eusilah
wanted to be elected mayor arguing that
it was time for the Town Hall to get its
first woman mayor. She lost the race by
only four votes. It would have been a
big achievement in the history of the
council, she says.
In her new position of County MP,
Eusilah plans to empower women and
the youth, and ensure that all children
access education. Empowering women
will bring general development in the
county. They will educate their children
for better livelihoods and reduce
insecurity in society. This is our rightful
time to provide participatory leadership.

EUSILAH NGENY
As young people, we have the energy to
deliver the services we pledged during
campaigns, she says.

UASIN GISHU Born in 1974, Eusilah attended


Immaculate Juniorate Heart High School

Y
in Uasin Gishu, and got married soon
after. She attributes her early marriage
outhful Eusilah Ngeny The MP, who says that the sky is the limit to the excitement that comes after
made a dramatic rise for her, aims at transforming livelihoods completing high school. Despite coming
in the last general of the electorate. As one of the role from a family of high achievers, with some
election from an models in leadership and development of her siblings having advanced degrees
elected councillor in in Uasin Gishu, I will use the experience from universities abroad, the MP did not
Eldoret Municipality in leadership to further my development seem to have any career prospects. It was
to becoming the agenda in the county, she says. therefore a great joy when at 34 years she
Uasin Gishu County MP. She previously As the deputy mayor of Eldoret, one of not only became a councillor, but also
represented Hospital Ward in Eldoret the fastest growing towns in the country, served as a deputy mayor of Eldoret Town
town, also serving as the deputy mayor. Eusilah actively worked for the general Council. That was a great leap for the

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

mother of four, who had been a housewife key developments, unemployment in the she shares. Her advice to women who
before the 2007 general election. I just county remains high, and it is one of want to join politics: Have an open
love politics, and realised that I still had the major challenges that will need the mind, and give your best in whatever
a chance to pursue my dreams, she says. MPs input. I demonstrated my ability capacity you serve the community.
Eusilah served as a civic leader while to deliver results when I served as a Serving as a political leader has been
studying at Moi University from where councillor and deputy mayor. Its the easier for Eusilah because of the support
she graduated with a Barchelors Degree same vigour I am going to maintain in of her husband and children. Anything
in Business Management. Even then, she the National Assembly, she asserts. is possible when you get support from
looked forward to becoming an MP. She Eusilah says that she has learnt to people who are closest to you, she says,
has also taken several other courses at the relate well with fellow legislators in emphasising that one can indeed enjoy
Kenya Institute of Management (KIM). the Parliament and that she expects to the best of family and career.
The MP vied for her seat on a perform well in articulating issues in
United Republican Party ticket. URP the House. I live one day at a time.
was the most popular party and anyone Someone can be your enemy today but
who went against it did not stand a your friend tomorrow, thats how it is in
chance. Therefore, the real fight was politics, she discloses. The MP sits in
at the nomination level as each serious the Labour and Social Welfare Committee I demonstrated
candidate wanted to secure the partys whose mandate is to deal with matters of my ability to
ticket, points out the legislator. An active labour, trade union relations, planning, deliver results
member of URP, she says: Being without national youth service, childrens welfare
a party position does not mean I am and national heritage, among others. She when I served as
not actively involved in URPs activities. is also a member of the House Committee a councillor and
I make my contribution as an ordinary on Lands. deputy mayor. Its
party member and on the basis of my Hon Ngeny says that being a woman
status as an MP elected on its ticket. leader is an asset. Most of the people I the same vigour I am
She represents one of the richest see are women. Women find it easier to ask going to maintain in the
counties in the country, with an for help such as getting bursaries for their National Assembly.
international airport, three public children and many other matters, so I am
universities, and the countrys second better placed to interact and empathise
national referral hospital, among other with them because I am a woman. Men
key facilities. However, despite these find it difficult to ask for help, I think,

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I
t was a grand entry into
politics for Fathia Mahboub,
the first woman from Mandera
County to ever get elected
to Parliament. I am the first
Muslim woman of Somali
origin in Mandera County to
make it to the August House, she says
with satisfaction. Before venturing into
politics, Fathia worked with the Gulf
African Bank a banker for over 18 years.
Born and bred in Nairobi, Fathia
studied in Mandera for secondary school
education. It was through witnessing
years of suffering of the people of the
region through untold humanitarian
crises and clan fights that she developed
interest in politics. She told herself that
she would be part of the solution by
promoting peace and developing the
county. I wanted to help people back
in Mandera, who have for years been
destabilised by in-fighting, which has
heavily retarded their development, she

FATHIA MAHBUB
points out.
Ahead of the 2013 general election,
Fathia, an avid debater, mesmerised her
competitors by launching a monumental
campaign, criss-crossing clan conflict MANDERA
zones to seek votes from county residents,
regardless of their clan affiliation. She
says that as a Muslim woman, she had to court to challenge her election, Fathia number of the candidates who sought
the challenge of convincing men that says that she was never worried by the the partys nomination won easily during
she was ready to become their leader in move as she had won fair and square. I the election. The County MP is an asset
Parliament. I told imams and sheikhs that had over 31,000 votes above my closest to the Mandera electorate, especially
I wanted to be a leader and I am happy rival and when the petition was filed, I women, who see her as a champion of
that they gave me a chance. I received said, let the court decide. I am happy their interests. Sadly, the incessant and
votes from women, men and the youth. the petition was thrown out for lack of generations-old clan conflicts in Mandera
I enjoy the overwhelming support of the evidence, she adds. County have impacted negatively on her
entire county, beams the MP. Her choice of party, URP, brought passion to be a role model for the regions
Although one of her opponents moved her an added advantage. A large young women. She has to actively fight off

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

existing stereotypes in order to make any of KEWOPA and has benefited from
invaluable contribution to the regions its induction training programmes for
development. women MPs and senators. However, she
Fathia, a Business Management feels that women still have a long way
graduate, however notes that nothing will to go to match their male counterparts
stop her from championing for peace, in elective positions. There is need for
which is a prerequisite for development, serious mentorship programmes to boost
not only in Mandera but in the whole of the number of women in both Houses. There is need for
Kenya. There has to be unity between It is a challenge we should take up serious mentorship
the people of Mandera, unity between full-heartedly as women leaders in this programmes to
leaders of the country, both elected and country. We have to set the momentum to
nominated, for any development to take succeed, she stresses. boost the number
place, she stresses. She would want to A mother of five, the legislator says of women in both
see the county attain the development that she is balancing her time well Houses. It is a
level of other established counties such as between family and politics and that
Kiambu and Muranga, in the near future. each has adequate attention. I have challenge we should
Among her key priorities are to time for the National Assembly and other take up full-heartedly
financially empower vulnerable women political engagements in Mandera. I also as women leaders in
and the youth to improve the road and play my role effectively as a mother. In
education infrastructure and quality, and most cases, mothers are the last to sleep this country.
improve access to water for the people of due to the heavy roles they play within
Mandera and their livestock. their homes, she adds. The MP notes
Hon Fathia Mahboub sits in the that family roles should not be used to
watchdog Public Accounts Committee hold back women aspiring for leadership,
and the Energy, Communication and because what matters is proper planning
Information Committee. She is a member and good time management.

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Her political interest ignited, Fatuma


needed a new platform to speak on
behalf of women and protect those who
were abused, disinherited or violated. I
took a bold step and resigned from UN
WOMEN even before my contract ended,
she says. Soon after in 2003, she was
appointed a Commissioner to the Kenya
National Commission on Human Rights
(KNCHR). A committed advocate for the
underserved and marginalised, in 2008
she released a report on behalf of the
Commission faulting the governments
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
resettlement exercise, the Operation
Rudi Nyumbani. In the report Fatuma
noted that the resettled IDPs were living
in fear mainly due to the lack of well
organised peace-building efforts with
their host communities.
In 2012, ready to get into politics,
Fatuma resigned from KNCHR to pursue
the Wajir County Women Representative
seat, on an ODM Party ticket, which had

FATUMA IBRAHIM considerable popularity in the county.


She won the seat.
Fatuma was born to illiterate parents in
WAJIR a polygamous home. They separated when
she was a young girl and Fatuma and her

G
two sisters were raised by their paternal
grandmother. Living in a pastoralist area
rowing up in a food in- The turning point in her life came in meant that we rarely saw our father as he
secure environment, Hon 2001 when she joined the United Nations was mostly out looking for pasture, but
Fatuma Ibrahim believed Fund for women (now UN WOMEN) grandma was a disciplinarian and played
that agriculture would gender justice project. Fatuma attended that role well, the 49-year-old mother
alleviate poverty in her the constitutional review conference of four recalls. To her, the separation
community. I had no as a delegate representing womens was a blessing in disguise because it
interest in political office organizations. This platform enlightened was under her grandmothers care that
at the time and to me, poverty would end me to know how women are abused every education came her way. A catholic nun
once there was food in Wajir. That is why I day, both physically and mentally, she used to go round the village enlisting
chose to study agriculture. recalls. young girls to join school and as luck

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would have it, Fatuma was picked. With farming was almost alien would excite them will lack education due to financial
her grandmothers encouragement, she me, says the MP. She trained women constraints, she says.
joined Wajir Primary School under a full on food security at the household level. Fatuma believes that there is need for
scholarship from the Catholic Church. I watched with pride as women started more women to understand the value of
Religion was not the focus of the school. addressing food security at the village representation instead of vying for a seat
The key thing, according to the nun, level, she notes. whose value they barely understand. She
was education, and that I held dear, she When she got married in 1989, her lauds organisations that have taken time
recollects. husband supported her fully in her quest to educate women on leadership, but feels
Bright and determined to excel, she to advocate for women. One thing I that more needs to be done to encourage
soon became the teachers darling. vividly remember is that women in Wajir more women to engage in active politics.
Fatuma also quickly emerged as a leader didnt know that they, too, had rights In Parliament, the legislator serves
among her peers. She was appointed a and were easily intimidated by men, in the Parliamentary Committee on
prefect and later head-girl and excelled she adds. Later, she was employed by the Justice and Legal Affairs, as well as the
in the debating club, representing German Technical Cooperation Agency Budget and Appropriations Committee.
her school in various competitions. (GIZ) Rescue Project that was addressing She is remembered for presenting an
Despite having this unique scholarship rape in Daadab. In 1996, she left for adjournment motion on defilement and
opportunity, many of the female students the United Kingdom to pursue a Masters rape, and general abuse among women.
in her school did not go beyond class degree in Agriculture Extension at the She is a member of KEWOPA and the
five. Some girls, she explains, were University of Reading. My aim was to Pastoralist Women Legislators Caucus.
married off while others could not stand study and come back to make a difference The MP hopes to vie for the same seat in
the school discipline. in Wajir County, she says. the next general election to accomplish the
Fatuma embraced education with During her campaign for the Wajir mission she has started. I see Wajir County
open arms. She proceeded to North County Women Representative seat in as an agricultural area with blossoming
Eastern Girls High School for ordinary 2012, Fatuma championed education and education in the next ten years, she says
level education, but was unable to pursue agriculture. Now as the MP, she has vowed with hope. For any woman aspiring to be
the advanced level education due to lack to revive education for the girl-child, a politician, her advice is: Start early and
of school fees. I went through a difficult and enhance womens empowerment. I make politics a commitment, involving
financial period as a school girl, she have promised girls in Wajir that none of every person who is close to you.
says. I remember my elder step-brother
supported my education and even paid
my school fees at some point. She joined
Egerton College, Njoro, which was then
fully sponsored by the government, and
pursued a Diploma in Agriculture and Seeing a woman with a small kitchen garden in an
Home Economics. Upon completing area where farming was almost alien would excite
the diploma, she was posted to North me . . . I watched with pride as women started
Eastern Province as a technical officer
in the Ministry of Agriculture. The MP addressing food security at the village level.
immediately started empowering women
in self-reliance. Seeing a woman with a
small kitchen garden in an area where

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C
onvincing lawyers
to elect her the Law
Society of Kenya
vice chairman was
the launching pad
that gave Florence
Kajuju the courage
and will power to traverse Meru County,
one of the largest voting areas in Kenya,
and emerge victorious. The battle for the
Meru Women Representative seat was a
delicate affair, politically speaking. It may
not have attracted as much attention as
the gubernatorial contest, but the contest
between Florence and her businesswoman
challenger was to be determined by
pertinent local political dynamics. APK was
deemed the homegrown party, and Kajuju,
the TNA candidate, had to overcome well-
oiled and organised campaign machinery
rolled out by APK.
TNA operations were in limbo in the
county, and while APKs dream team held
meetings together and moved together,
Kajuju was alone. There was no harmony
in our party campaign team. The other
side had gained a lot of ground, Kajuju
lamented during one of the media
FLORENCE KAJUJU
interviews in the run up to the elections.
And true to her projections, it was a close
MERU
shave as APK sailed through with the
weighty governor and senatorial seats. young lawyer running FK Gitonga and served as the chairperson of the Meru
It is a keen review of the dynamics in Company Advocates in Meru Town more Bar Association and the secretary general
Meru and her win with TNA against the than fifteen years ago, her mobilisation of the Mt. Kenya Law Society. At least my
strong APK wave that expressly point at skills would be aptly demonstrated when colleagues knew what I was capable of,
the pragmatism of the 43-year-old lawyer. she was elected by lawyers to be the vice says Kajuju.
Her rise to political stardom has been chairperson of the powerful LSK in 2009. Having studied at CCM Mucuune
a journey through the legal and justice Only three years earlier, she had cut Primary School, and later at Mikinduri
system, working in Meru and getting to her teeth in legal politics when she was Secondary School in Tigania East, Kajujus
know the constituents problems. From a elected LSKs council member. I had background is humble. Becoming a lawyer

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was a childhood ambition that goes miles due to constitutional requirements that up representation where we shall have
to reveal just to what extent Kajuju can have deadlines and as such, the in-trays ward, constituencies and finally county
be committed to causes she believes in. of MPs who now conduct more business representatives, she explains.
I used to love the Vioja Mahakamani in committees are full. The three roles of Hon Florence Kajuju has joined hands
programme on KBC TV, and I liked the legislation, oversight and representation with fellow Meru County leaders to
drama and the intrigues, she explains have gained new and challenging introduce a Motion that could see a task
the origin of her love for law. After a meaning, more so during this era of force established to look at issues affecting
successful stint at Moi Girls School for devolution, she notes. miraa growing in Kenya. The MP says
A-levels, Kajujus future began to take Her ambitious spirit did not just that the crop is largely misunderstood
shape when she joined the University die with her election. In Parliament by people who do not know its economic
of Nairobi to study law. Current LSK she became a member of the powerful impact on the Meru people. We shall be
chairman, Eric Mutua, was her classmate. Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, and fighting to have it recognised as a cash
Kajuju was admitted to the Bar in 1995 managed to clinch the chairmanship of crop. Recognition by the government will
after attending the mandatory one-year the Regional Integration Committee that make it to be managed better and if there
training at the Kenya School of Law. It is is involved in matters of the East African are any side effects on its growth and
however the pro bono cases she took over Community and all that impacts on consumption, then recommendations will
for the last eighteen years she has been regional peace, trade and integration. be made, she explains.
in Meru, plus her desire to aid the poor Kajuju has not lost sight of the social By the end of her first year in
and the downtrodden, that gave her the economic impact she wants to see at the office, the mother of two wants to have
impetus to seek a platform to represent grassroots. Together with fellow Women cemented her working relationship with
the people at a more influential level. Representatives, she has been key in the the Youth Development Enterprise Fund
The MP wanted to be able to make crafting of the County Social Economic and the Women Enterprise Fund that she
laws from Parliament, and to see the effect Development Bill that if approved, will is already working with. The MP says
of such laws trickle down to the people see creation of another grassroots fund that the two funds, with the Ksh6 billion
directly. Her road to Parliament was not that will be under the office of the boosts from the government, have the
smooth. Meru County, one of the largest Women Representative. It will adopt potential to have tangible impact at the
in the country, has nine constituencies, the Constituency Development Fund grassroots.
and Florences ability to consolidate votes (CDF) model, but will have a bottom
in populous constituencies seems to have
given her an edge over her main rival.
Her strategy worked. She garnered more
than 193,000 votes, giving her rival a gap
of more than 91,000 votes. There is this notion by members of
Soon after joining Parliament, Kajuju the public that MPs do not have a
quickly realised that an MPs work was
not just a talk shop. There is this notion
lot to do. I can tell you that we are
by members of the public that MPs do not very busy.
have a lot to do. I can tell you that we are
very busy, she says. Kajuju explains that
the 11th Parliament could be different

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In later years, the first of four children


also got to understand the importance of
education. There was a big difference
between educated women and the non-
educated ones, she notes. Having lost
her father in childhood, Florence took
seriously every opportunity she got,
doing her best in school, in the hope
of a better future. She studied at Arya
Girls Secondary School in Nairobi
and later graduated with a Business
Administration degree from the Kenya
Methodist University. Florence also holds
a University of Nairobi Masters degree
in Project Management and Planning.
The promulgation of the Constitution
in 2010 prompted her to join politics. The
then employee of World Food Programme
(WFP) considered this an opportunity to
work directly with residents of Busia, to
improve their lives. Florence says that
having worked directly with communities
for 13 years while at WFP, she felt
ready to help shift the thinking of Busia

FLORENCE MUTUA
County residents from depending on cash
handouts to self-reliance. The peoples
dependence on cash handouts bothers
me a lot. I feel sad when the residents
BUSIA look for me only when they want money.

A
That is why I have various projects that
should help reduce dependency and have
s a young girl, women to become better members of the them appreciate their ability to improve
Florence Mutua society. I accompanied my grandmother their lives, she says.
dreamt of becoming to most of her church and women groups Florence experienced mixed feelings
a leader. Raised meetings and was fascinated by her before following through her dream.
by her maternal influence in the community. This served My husband encouraged me to apply.
grandmother, as my introduction to leadership and I was reluctant to leave my comfortable
Florences desire womens empowerment, she recalls. job for politics but after much reflection,
was to walk in the footsteps of the powerful From her grandmother, Florence learned I decided to give it a try. He actually
woman who led womens groups and that leadership translated into hard work dropped my papers at the ODM Party
church ministries, and inspired girls and and positively influencing other people. offices and that was the start of my

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Florence goes beyond her role as a


The peoples dependence on cash handouts bothers me a lot. I womens representative in Parliament.
The people have high expectation of
feel sad when the residents look for me only when they want
women leaders and I have to make a
money. That is why I have various projects that should help difference in whatever way I can with or
reduce dependency and have them appreciate their ability to without finances, she observes. Because
of this, the MP challenges women leaders
improve their lives.
to work hard for elective positions as
opposed to relying on the affirmative
action seats. She adds that women
journey to political leadership, she destitute and widows who are generally leaders should impact the society through
recalls. Florence chose ODM, which she stigmatised because of AIDS. Her other transparent and accountable leadership.
felt had fought for the new Constitution. interests are in health education and The legislator feels that County MPs
Her greatest challenge during the distribution of undergarments and sanitary were not embraced by other MPs upon
campaign was lack of limited funding, towels to girls, to help them attend school joining Parliament. We have all found our
and she took a risk and dipped into her uninterrupted. She also has a mentorship spaces and are now working very well, with
familys savings. The other challenge was programme to guide and mold boys into our strength being in the committees,
her identity. Born to a Luhya father and respectable people in the society, and states the member of the Agriculture,
a Kamba mother, Florences opponents coordinates the activities of Mama ni Livestock and Fisheries Committee, and
dismissed her as an alien in Busia County, Mmoja, a foundation for orphans. Regional Integration Committee.
despite being married in the county. As the patron of Uwezo Fund in Busia Hon Florence Mutua believes that
She reported the matter to the National County, Florence has ensured that women training for women aspiring for political
Cohesion and Integration Commission and and the youth are well informed in order leadership should be decentralised to the
the Independent Electoral and Boundaries to benefit from the fund. To promote county level where it is most needed. She
Commission for their intervention. Florence sustainability, she encourages members adds that the objective of the trainings
won the election with overwhelming of the community to initiate projects they should change from raising numbers to
support from residents. I now have to are passionate about. I want people to improving the quality of women leaders.
fulfill my manifesto, serve the constituents, know that the projects are not Mamas. I The dynamic MP is the secretary of
and ensure that their lives are improved, have worked with youth groups, womens KEWOPA, the vice chairperson of Women
she says happily. groups, physically challenged persons Democracy Network (WDN) Kenyan
The MPs manifesto promised food groups and boda boda (motor bike) Chapter, a network that prepares women
security, economic empowerment, operators groups to start Savings and for political leadership through training
stigma reduction for people living with Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs), and table and awareness creation. She also serves
HIV/AIDS, education for all, jigger banking, she states. Florence has also as an ambassador of the Bicameral
eradication, access to clean water and informed these groups about Access to Parliament for Women in Parliament
medical services. She is passionate about Government Procurement Opportunities (WIP), which is an independent
empowering women and the youth. (AGPO) and facilitated the registration international foundation that reaches out
Her programmes, conceived along the of five companies for youth groups, to all female parliamentarians to address
Millennium Development Goals, include womens groups and for people living global challenges. On her plans for 2017:
14 green houses to eradicate extreme with disability to help them exploit the Watch this space, she asserts.
poverty and hunger among the youth, the opportunities available to them.

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In high school at Kisumu Girls,


Gladys Wanga was appointed head girl
and she proved to be a natural leader. Her
leadership flourished further when she
joined Kenyatta University. In 2003, I
contested the highly competitive position
of secretary general in the students union,
and became the first female student to be
elected to that position. My role was to
represent students at the university senate
and council, she shares. Serving in the
positionGladys spearheaded the review
of the Constitution for the Kenyatta
University Students Association to allow
for the unions independence in running
its affairs. She also mobilised resources to
run the union.
Gladys remained actively engagement
in politics even after university. While
she worked in various positions and
organisations, including serving as the
Programme Manager at LVCT Health, a
Kenyan NGO with focus on HIV/AIDS,
she engaged in ODM Party politics. I

GLADYS WANGA actively campaigned for ODM in the


2007 and the 2013 election, as well as
for individual parliamentary candidates,
HOMA BAY she reveals. When she decided to vie,
she naturally chose ODM, which was the

T
most popular party in her constituency.
I am an active member of my partys
he Homa Bay him and developed interest in politics at Parliamentary Group.
County Womens an early age. As she puts it, getting into Campaigns are not always smooth
Representative grew politics was a natural thing for me. Her for most politicians, and Gladys was no
up in a political father inspired her a lot, and so did other exception. The campaigns were intense,
family. Her father, the political leaders whom she says, played and the most difficult part was raising
late John Nyasuna, a role in making her the politician she the resources needed. Homa Bay County
was a councilor is today. Gladys singles out Hon Charity is vast and the terrain is difficult. With
and chairperson of Ngilu, for whom she has great admiration, support of friends, giving small amounts
Kisumu County Council. She emulated among the leaders she looks up to. of money and volunteering their services,

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

we managed to mount a successful to carry out a grand campaign. If you


campaign and got the seat, Gladys can convincingly articulate your vision,
recalls. She experienced a lot of verbal Do not be limited you will get the support you require.
violence from opponents who discredited She also notes that although there are
womens leadership. Undeterred, she by your financial more women leaders now, there is more
remained focused on the task at hand, inability to carry out room to invest and get more women in
receiving the support of mainly women a grand campaign. If Parliament and as governors, senators
and the youth, and a few men. and constituency MPs. Focus should
The holder of a Master of Science you can convincingly grow from just capacity building to
in Health Management degree received articulate your material support for serious candidates,
little help to prepare her for the position. vision, you will get the she notes.
I have been learning on the job. Being Hon Gladys Wanga has worked hard
a womens representative, which is a support you require. to ensure that while in Parliament she is
new office in the devolved government, not only seen but also heard. I moved a
comes with its own responsibilities. We Motion on road safety with my colleague,
have to ensure there is no duplication of The training provided by KEWOPA Hon Priscilla Nyokabi. I have also
roles with other offices, she notes. Her and the State University of New York requested several statements and moved
key promises were the empowerment of through its Legislative Strengthening many amendments on the floor, as well as
women and the youth, and education for Programme that was implemented in making contributions at the Parliamentary
the girl child. the Kenyan National Assembly assisted Service Commission, where I serve. My
Despite not having any money Gladys to understand parliamentary other achievement is the spearheading
allocated to the office of the County procedures and the various roles as a the creation of the Information and
MP, Gladys has partnered with several legislator. Parliament has been a steep Public Communication Committee, which
private sector and civil society groups to learning curve, she declares, adding I chair.
mobilise women to register for national that all interests - personal, national or The MP is an eager learner and looks
identification cards, National Hospital political - must be balanced to nurture out for opportunities to make her a better
Insurance Fund, National Social Security good relationships. The MP enjoys good legislator, the most important being the
Fund, birth and death certificates, working relations with her colleagues and pivotal role of decision-making. Every
among other documents that are not works well with her main competitor at day presents choices, and since there are
easily accessible to many people in the the county. not enough hours in the day, you have
rural areas. She is also promoting table According to the legislator, many to decide whether to attend a committee
banking as a means of economically women view Parliament as being about retreat or a function in your constituency;
empowering women, has launched a girl glamour and appearance, and she urges you have to decide whether to vote with
child mentorship programme known as such women to change their perception. your party or your conscience. Whichever
Mama County Says, and encourages Parliament, she points out, is about work you decide, you must be ready to face
women to deliver in hospitals. Together and women work twice as hard as men. the consequences. Asked about her
with her team, the launch of Homa Bay For women who want to join political political plan for 2017, Gladys vows to
County Womens SACCO and other youth leadership, Gladys says, The sky is the serve diligently in her current position
programmes are top on the list of planned lower limit, do not sit on your dream. Do and keep to her mantra, The sky is the
activities. not be limited by your financial inability lower limit.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

G
race Kiptui has
defied culture and
other obstacles to
become the first
woman from the
minority Endorois
Community to
get elected to Parliament. I won the
Baringo South Constituency seat because
I planned well. I conducted a well-
coordinated campaign and delivered the
right messages to voters. It was tough but
I managed to out-do male competitors,
she says.
The MP is among the 16 women
elected to the 11th Parliament, and is
motivated by a desire to alleviate poverty
in her constituency, and to help empower
women and the youth economically. She
wants these two groups of people to
write proposals that can win them credit
facilities for their income-generating
activities. Women and the youth are
the majority in Baringo South, yet the

GRACE KIPTUI
most disadvantaged economically. I
want to see their fortunes change for the
better, she states. To succeed, Grace
pledges to operate on an open door
policy and incorporate the views of all BARINGO
her constituents. All views from the
constituents matter. I have to listen and
vet what is important for their general joined the Kenya College of Accountancy ticket, whose leader is Deputy President
benefit, and make good use of it, she (KCA) and achieved Certified Public William Ruto, easily won seats not only
says. Accountancy (CPA 5). She worked with in the county but also in the expansive
Grace did her Certificate of Primary Medical Training College (MTC) from Rift Valley Province. Her priority areas
Education (CPE) at Solian Primary 1982 till she joined politics. include education to empower residents
School and proceeded to Kapropita According to the MP, a wise choice to be self-reliant in all sectors. I am
Secondary School and later Lugulu Girls of the political vehicle to use, URP, was particularly going to ensure both young
High School in Western Kenya, for her also key to her emerging victorious in the girls and boys are given an equal chance
advanced level (A-level) of education. She election. Most contestants on the partys in education by campaigning against

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

early marriages among young girls, she in the Transport, Public Works and
notes. Housing Committee. She is a member
Grace also intends to promote the of KEWOPA, and has benefitted from its
development of more schools in Baringo induction programmes for women MPs Kenyans will keep
South, and equipping them for better and Senators. Women in this country
educational provision for local children. are still disadvantaged when it comes to us in check, as
She also plans to work with other leaders elective leadership and a lot has to be women elected
to curb insecurity, which to her is a major done in mentoring those aspiring to make leaders, on our
threat to development not only in the a mark, she points out. She adds that
area but in other parts of the country. there is need for KEWOPA to partner with contribution
Baringo County is among the regions other organisations involved in women towards realisation
hardest hit by the cattle rustling menace. empowerment programmes to boost of the gender
Development can only be realised where womens numbers in elective positions.
people live in peace and engage in their Despite the New Constitutions provision equity in line with the
daily activities without fear. I intend to on gender equity, we are yet to realise Constitution.
champion peace in the constituency and the two thirds gender provision. This is
even neighbouring constituencies, adds an area that requires urgent fixing, notes
the MP. the first-time MP.
To promote infrastructural development, Hon Grace Kiptui says however that challenge we must work to overcome,
especially roads, she intends to liaise with it is upon women MPs in Parliament as she says.
the county government and the national well as those in the County Assemblies The mother of four says that through
government. Close working relations to be at the fore-front at championing proper planning, she is able to create
between the two levels of government is for increased representation of women time for both politics and family. My
crucial in matters of development. I will at all levels in the next general election. skills in time management enable me to
champion that and equally champion the Kenyans will keep us in check, as women have room for my family, listening to my
need for all elected leaders to work as a elected leaders, on our contribution constituents, attending to the National
team within the county, explains Grace. towards realisation of the gender equity Assemblys responsibilities and other
In the National Assembly, she sits in line with the Constitution. It is a political engagements.

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S
he was a teenager when
she first vied for a
parliamentary seat, and
came second. That was
in 1983. Halima Duri had
just completed secondary
school examination, and
desired to represent the people of Galole
Constituency, Tana River District, in
Parliament. It was unheard of . . . a young
Muslim woman of Somali origin contesting
a parliamentary seat! she exclaims, with
a chuckles. Parliament was then male
dominated, but I was attracted to the
power the MPs wielded, declares the Tana
River County Womens Representative.
Although she does not proclaim it
aloud, Halima seems to get motivation
from doing anything that appears reserved
for men. This started in her childhood when
she herded her fathers goats. Being the
first born in a family of six girls, Halima
had to perform this task for her father,
which meant working side by side with
boys. My father trusted me a lot and to be
a successful herdsgirl, I had to be tough,
she shares. She was not just firm and brave,
but she also walked and behaved like the
HALIMA DURI
boys, even wearing caps and carrying
sticks under her armpit like the herdsmen.
TANA RIVER
This early routine created a tough
woman in Halima. My constituents call me district officer by the time she resigned to disquiet because the government recognised
Mama Gangari (The tough lady) because join politics. my record as a peace and reconciliation
Im firm and bold, she discloses. Her The married mother of six grown advocate. I am a peace worker, she asserts.
education and career have been rooted in children has worked in many districts in Halima had nurtured the dream to join
leadership. She was a head girl in primary the country, including Busia, Migori, Thika, Parliament for a long time, and when the
and secondary schools, and served as a Maragua, Sotik, Eldoret, Nandi North and opportunity arose she grabbed it and has not
high school principal for some of the ten Msambweni. This has equipped her with regretted. After her first unsuccessful attempt
years she was a teacher. Her last working good interpersonal and public relations for a parliamentary seat, she got engrossed
years were spent in various positions in skills, and made her a competent peace in her career, but never turned her back on
the provincial administration, starting campaigner and negotiator. After the 2007 the people. She was so involved in their
off as district officer and rising to senior election, I was sent to work in areas with community activities that when the New

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

Constitution was passed, My former students, The MP promised to drill boreholes to in Tana River. Choice of a party is
friends, especially men, called and urged me reduce water shortage, establish a bursary challenging because you have to go by the
to go for the County MP seat, she says. fund and scholarships for learners, and peoples wishes, she notes. She however
As part of her plan, Halima got a transfer improve health care services all over the likes her party because its leader is sincere
to Mombasa from Nandi North and started county. She is working closely with the area and was supportive and encouraging
underground campaigns. She later resigned governor and the three constituency MPs to throughout the election period. I didnt
from the civil service to campaign more deliver on these pledges. But they see my have money and he encouraged and
actively. I enhanced my activities in the commitment through various development helped me, she recalls.
community peace initiatives, harambees, funds for womens groups. I continue to When she first got into Parliament after
funerals, name it - I attended them all, she enlighten women, a majority of who are the election, the legislator shed tears of
says. Prior to this, Halima had remained illiterate, on business, self-image and their excitement. I had longed for that moment
connected with the people. Wherever I rights as Muslims and citizens in this society since 1983! I prayed to God to give me
worked, I commuted regularly to Tana River that is dominated by men. Women were my strength in this work, she discloses. The
to participate in the community activities, greatest supporters during campaign and I environment was however familiar as
particularly women related ones. This want the best for them, she discloses. she had visited Parliament several times
helped me to earn the peoples confidence While she got a lot of support from earlier. The work is what I had always
even before election, she recalls. nearly every group of people in the county, thought it was. Its an exciting place;
Because of her cordial relationship with Halima had two major challenges, the first you can develop yourself and grow your
the people, the communitys council of being campaign funds. I didnt have as people through the networks from different
elders did not hesitate to endorse her for much money to campaign as my opponents backgrounds, she observes.
the seat. The council plays the important did, she reveals. The other draw back was Hon Halima Duri says she is an active
role of bringing fairness by deciding how opposition from a section of her extended contributor in the Education, Research and
political seats are shared between the family. My husband, his brothers, my Technology Committee, and the Health
Wardei and Orma clans of Tana River. We sisters, and other relatives gave me so and Catering Committee. She continues
were seven contestants but I got 90 per much support I feel like I owe them. I only to emulate her role models, the older
cent of the votes. I attribute this to the wish it was like that with every member of politicians from the single party days,
good work I had done in the county as a the family, she adds. like Senator Zipporah Kitony. They have
teacher. The people know my capabilities The Wiper Democratic Party was the so much authority it reminds me that
and Im very confident in whatever I do, obvious choice because of its popularity this place has good pasture for me, she
she asserts. Halima adds that Tana River observes. Halima also looks up to Muslim
people scrutinise a contenders marriage, politicians like Hon Amina Abdalla and
reputation, commitment and passion
I continue to Hon Aden Duale.
for the people and the job. I passed enlighten women, a She encourages future female aspirants
to increase their determination, courage
the test highly. I command respect, Ive majority of who are and decision making skills because the
been married for over 30 years and Ive
contributed to the community affairs whole illiterate, on business, names you will hear during the campaign
heartedly, she adds. self-image and their and the challenges you will face require
I continue to enlighten women, a a woman of steel. Be patient, have shock
rights as Muslims and absorbers because most men seem to enjoy
majority of who are illiterate, on business,
self-image and their rights as Muslims and citizens in this society discouraging and belittling us, she states.
The KEWOPA member plans to contest for
citizens in this society that is dominated that is dominated by men.
by men. the same seat in 2017.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

earned Hellen and her friends heavy


punishment.
Her life in Kapsabet High School and
later Mosoriot Teachers Training College
was uneventful. She was by this time well
settled in leadership, holding various
positions at the different institutions.
Now as a member of the Committee on
Catering and Health Club in Parliament,
Hellen cannot hide her amusement at the
fact that history seems to have repeated
itself. Its funny, because I was the
vice president in charge of Catering and
Welfare at Mosoriot TTC, she laughs. The
mandate of her current committee is to
ensure the welfare of MPs and staff, and at
times advice on security matters. The MP
also sits in the Lands Committee, whose
task includes solving land disputes and
digitalising issuance of all title deeds.
The leadership style of the first time
MP is a hands-on approach that seeks to
deliver results. Other than the time she
led fellow pupils in boycotting subjects,
the only other time Hellen has ruffled

HELLEN CHEPKWONY feathers in leadership was during her first


teaching stint. She got into a school whose
performance was rather dismal, yet it had
KERICHO the potential to perform better. I initiated
a campaign against lazy teachers, and

B
things changed. The school went on to
perform exceptionally well during the
orn to peasant farmers in this left her with many questions. She main examination, she recalls.
1951, Hellen Chepkwony would later prove her leadership mettle This urge to see results is one of
grew up in Belgut as a pupil of Kamaso Primary School, Hellens greatest assets in her current
Constituency, Kericho where she mobilised fellow learners to position as a political leader. She has
County. From an early reject Kiswahili and Christian Religious a vision to improve the welfare of the
age, Hellen recalls Education (CRE) subjects in the Kenya people of Kericho County, particularly
seeing women in her Primary Education (KPE) system. She did the vulnerable groups women and
church take up some form of leadership not see the need to study the two subjects youth - through the Uwezo Fund and
roles, while the bigger roles appeared to that were not examinable in their end of the Women Enterprise Fund. Apart from
be a reserved for men. Young as she was, primary school examination. The move that, she wants to make sure that parents

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understand the importance of educating have attended since coming to Parliament,


their children. Education will improve she stresses the need to decentralise
the living standards of the people. It is One wonders that such activities to the counties to help
embarrassing that we are still speaking of we have more more women access information and
jiggers in my county in the 21st Century. knowledge, and in turn increase their
Jiggers should not be a threat to our women than men numbers in leadership. One wonders that
people, she says. in the county we have more women than men in the
Hellen has so far introduced green governments, yet county governments, yet we still struggle
houses for tomato farming. My county to get more women into national elective
encounters numerous heavy hailstorms that we still struggle to positions, she notes.
affect the production of tomatoes. To get get more women into Hellen is dissatisfied that few women
good ones, we have to protect them from national elective positions. are in national leadership positions. Not
the harsh weather conditions, she says. much has been done. We need to work
The MP reveals that she has disbursed harder. We have to convince women to
greenhouses worth Ksh6 million to the understand that a womans leadership
county. I plan to start a cottage industry people in her county from her position is equal to that of a man, if not better,
to do value addition with the tomatoes, and as MP. Hellen has shared this truth with she says. She believes that the reason
stabilise their prices, she adds. She has also them, and this has helped to reduce their the number of elected women MPs is
introduced rabbit rearing in Kericho county demands on her. I am with the people and smaller in the 11th Parliament than in
and now plans to enhance operations of I expose them to the reality. I explain the the preceding Parliament is that women
factories that manufacture the rabbit urine situation to them, and when I can afford fear to compete with men for leadership
into fertilizer. The plans are to establish one it, I help; and when I cannot, I direct them positions. The number of women elected
factory in Belgut Constituency and another to places where they can get assistance. at constituency level has dropped by five
one in Bureti Constituency. Above else, I have helped to guide them from the previous Parliament. We need
Currently the farmers are transporting to do businesses that will improve their to undertake serious civic education and
the rabbit urine to a factory in Bomet that lives, she shares. support fellow women with finances to vie
uses it in the manufacture of fertilizer. We Widowed in 2001, the hardworking for these positions, she maintains.
have given samples to the Kenya Bureau of farmer and businesswomen previously Joining URP was a decision informed
Standards (KEBS) for testing, and as soon worked in the local authority and was by the partys popularity in Kericho
as they give us the go ahead, well start elected the chairperson of the County County, discloses Hellen. She says that
to market the fertilizer throughout East Council of Kericho. She took over the hers was an uneventful campaign, her
Africa, reveals Helen, confidently. Still position when Kericho County Council was only challenge being funding. She used
in agriculture, she plans the expansion of ranked 173th in the country, and through her personal savings and borrowed money
poultry and dairy industry that are already organising, supervising and implementing from her businesses. Now that she is in
well established in the county. I give a activities, the county performed better and Parliament, the MP intends to emulate
lot of support and guidance to people was ranked fourth in the country. successful women politicians like Hon
in my county, especially women who Hon Chepkwony is grateful to the Charity Ngilu, the Cabinet Secretary for
have formed into groups to practice table Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
banking. I give them freedom to exercise and KEWOPA for inducting her and Ngilu is a lady who faces challenges
their own leadership, she says. other new members to the various rules head-on. She tackles issues bravely,
The mother of five admits that it is and functions of the House. While she observes Hellen.
difficult to handle all the demands of the appreciates workshops that female MPs

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

M
ama Amani
is the name
L a i k i p i a
C o u n t y
residents
fondly call
their Womens
Representative, Jane Machira. Long before
she joined politics, Jane was already a
peace crusader in this cosmopolitan
multi-ethnic and multi-religious county
where cattle rustling is the order of the
day.
Through her work as a programmes
officer at the Centre for Conflict
Resolutions Kenya (CCR-K), Jane travelled
to Laikipia, Samburu and Baringo Counties
helping to resolve conflicts that were
sometimes allegedly instigated by local
leaders. She also served in the Laikipia
District Peace Committee where she
helped to establish lasting peace policies
and conflict resolution mechanisms. It
is an issue of concern when communities
attack each other, stealing animals and
destroying crops, and their leaders say
and do nothing about it, she observes.
It was this apparent lack of concern
JANE MACHIRA
for restoration of peace by the leaders of
Laikipia and neighbouring counties that
LAIKIPIA
pushed Jane to seek a political leadership
position. As an employee, I did what I communities, with focus on Christian school prefect. Her responsibilities then
could. But there are some challenges we and Muslim clergy, men and the youth. cut across the school, instilling in her
as an organisation just couldnt handle, Conflict is often caused by men and young the two qualities of self-motivation and
as they required a political approach I people, yet when they occur, women, girls focus, which she believes are important
kept wishing to be an MP to help resolve and children suffer most, she notes. for any leader. For a girl who came from
the conflicts once and for all, shares the The MPs political interest did not a humble background in a family of 11
MP. Now that she is a County MP, she stem from her immediate former job, but children, this elevation enhanced Janes
has organised various conflict resolution from way back in her days at Rumuruti self esteem, and she vowed to offer
campaigns and trainings that involve entire Secondary School where she served as a leadership wherever she went. Students

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

respected me and always sought my


advice. I was also a very neat girl, she
Every upcoming leader must cultivate a learning
adds cheerfully.
After secondary school, Jane trained as culture, read books on leadership, and newspapers,
a secretary at the Nyeri Cathedral College, participate actively in decision making, and attend
and worked in the Ministry of Health in
parliamentary sessions. I did just that and it helped
Gatundu, rising from secretary to senior
positions. She also worked in Rumuruti me gain knowledge on good leadership.
District Hospital, and Kenyatta National
Hospital before venturing out into NGO
work. Throughout her employment, the given up. The legislator however remained did just that and it helped me gain
firm but soft-spoken Jane was a leader of focused on her desire to reduce poverty, knowledge on good leadership. She
associations and womens groups that she eliminate cattle rustling and overall believes the training also helped her
belonged to. insecurity, and provide clean drinking sustain good relationships with fellow
She does not hesitate to stress how water for the county residents. With these MPs. In Parliament, I have friends with
her husband, a lecturer at the Egerton promises, she won the support of women, who we share experience and can work
University, has influenced her life. and was elated when she won the race. A together regardless of our respective
His determination to rise from being a believer in mature leadership, Jane has backgrounds.
probation officer to a lecturer, through forged friendships with her opponents Hon Jane Machira is an active member
sacrifice and hard work, is a lesson and together they are working well. of KEWOPA and is happy that the
Jane applied in her own life. He studied Economic empowerment is one of the parliamentary association has been in the
Psychology in England and was promoted MPs passions, and she has helped many forefront in helping MPs to understand
to head the district probation office, but womens groups to start table banking. their roles in and outside Parliament, and
he continued to strive for more, and now The caring mother also has a schoolgirls in passing Bills that are beneficial to
has a doctorate degree. Her life is no mentorship programme focusing mainly women. The mentorship weve received
different. Starting off as a secretary, she on leadership. She plans to start a project from KEWOPA is very beneficial, and I
has worked hard and is today a County MP. to distribute sanitary towels to schoolgirls wish we could decentralise to counties
I have emulated my husbands tenacity and unmarried mothers, who she says and engage women at the grassroots.
and self-development. Through distance cannot afford those important items. She encourages women aspiring for
learning, she undertook a degree in She is working very closely with the political leadership to start engaging in
conflict resolution and management from government to ensure that the community leadership early. When you realise that
the University of North Carolina, USA. gets access to clean water. youre called to be a leader, start making
My husband is the biggest supporter of A beneficiary of leadership training friends with women already walking that
my leadership, she reveals. organised by various NGOs for upcoming path so they can mentor you. Also, be
The TNA Party member was assured women leaders, Jane lauds the initiative. available for any leadership opportunity
of solid leadership in President Uhuru Every upcoming leader must however do to gain the experience you need in this
Kenyatta, and did not consider any other more, cultivate a learning culture, read journey. When not engaging in politics,
party. Campaigning to beat her five books on leadership, and newspapers, Jane visits her maize and wheat farms.
opponents was hard, that were she not participate actively in decision making, She enjoys traveling around the country,
an experienced mobiliser, she would have and attend parliamentary sessions. I as a domestic tourist.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

alarm. The MP links the botched attack


to her uncompromising stand against
insecurity in the region. The attack
was linked to my championing of stiffer
security measures to tackle the wave
of crime in Trans Nzoia. I believe the
criminals were not happy with that, she
says.
Elected on a New Ford Kenya Party
ticket, Janet hopes to address challenges
in girl child education as well as peace
initiatives in the county. I chose to run
on an NFK ticket because it was one of
the most popular political parties in Trans
Nzoia and parts of Western Province, she
explains. The partys popularity in the
area was due to the influence of former
Justice Minister, Eugene Wamalwa, who
also hails from Trans Nzoia.
Before securing the partys ticket,
Janet was a member of the partys
National Executive Council, and an
influential figure in the county. She was
born in Kaptama Village, at the foot of

JANET NANGABO
Mount Elgon in north western Kenya
and is part of a large, happy family. In
1992, as Kenya prepared for election,
ethnic clashes broke out in the Mount
TRANS NZOIA Elgon region, and disrupted her familys

J
life. The ethnic clashes eventually saw
her family move to the neighbouring
anet Nangabo, the the court dismissed. She was relieved to Trans Nzoia District. Ours was just one
Women Representative for have survived the petition. I urge Trans of the families that faced this growing
Trans Nzoia County, has Nzoia people to love each other just like nightmare. Hundreds of families suffered
faced challenges since I am ready to work with other leaders to the same fate, she states.
her days as a nominated bring development to the people of this It is said that some people are born
councillor in Kitale county, says the MP. into leadership while others have it thrust
Municipality. The most A few days after the Kitale Court upon them. Janet belongs to the latter
recent obstacle was a petition by one of dismissed the petition, thugs raided group. Leadership was thrust upon her
her challengers, contesting her election Janets home, but gladly, the police at an early age. She was surrounded
as the Trans Nzoia County MP, which responded quickly when she raised the by hundreds of people facing painful

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

circumstances, suffering quietly without a campaigns, supporting other candidates, challenging to us county MPs since we
voice. Without someone to speak for us, and was nominated to the council and dont have any development funds, she
our situation would not only worsen, but subsequently elected the chairperson of observes. She has also worked with local
we would also face new threats like that Town Planning. She held the position till NGOs to support the education of many
of being displaced from our new home, the 2013 general election. young people from poor families.
she recalls. The widow of the late influential Mayor The MP plans to have more laws
As land was being distributed to of Kitale Municipality Maurice Nangabo, legislated to effectively uplift the living
internally displaced persons from other Janet has been able to carry on with her standards of women, and empower them
parts of the country, families that had late husbands political prowess beyond economically. She intends to tackle
moved to Trans Nzoia earlier, including the council. Her activities as a leader tribalism and promote co-existence
Janets, faced the threat of eviction. mainly include safeguarding the peoples between the communities in her county,
There was need to speak out and fight interests, and lobbying for better services to spur development. She also plans to
for the rights of the men, women and wherever they are. Although the needs empower the youth economically by
children who now faced uncertainty of the people can be overwhelming, she working with financial institutions that
and further danger, she states. It is tries her best to seek solutions for them. can give them business loans.
then that she decided to work closely She wants to ensure that women and the Hon Nangabo worked with the Kenya
with with relevant authorities to express youth form income-generating groups for Postal Corporation before her nomination
the frustration of her new community, self reliance. as councillor in 2007. She attended Kuywa
fighting for their rights and pushing for She has also been involved in helping Girls Secondary School from 1983 to
opportunities for the young ones. members of her county register companies 1987. In the National Assembly, she is the
At some point, Janet established the to enable them create rather than seek chairperson of the Catering and Health
Janet Nangabo Foundation, a community employment. Many citizens view MPs Services Committee, and a member of the
based organization specifically created as sources of everything, expecting us Labour and Social Services Committee.
to provide solutions for problems of the to solve their personal problems, which The legislator says that women MPs
Trans Nzoia people. One of its aims was is not possible. This is particularly are rearing to perform as well as their
to help resettle squatters in the county. male counterparts in Parliament, thanks
There seems to be no leader from this to the mentorship they have received from
part of the country who understands the KEWOPA. KEWOPA has been playing
problems of these people better than its role in guiding women aspiring for
I do, because I have been a victim of Many citizens view leadership. But even as women leaders,
displacement states Janet, confidently. we must also make our contribution
Other activities the foundation does and MPs as sources towards this end to uplift fortunes of our
that target squatters and poor families of everything, sisters aspiring for elective positions, she
in the county include peace building, expecting us to notes. Janet promises to personally lead
development of skills, provision of basic an initiative to mentor aspiring women
healthcare and income generation. solve their personal leaders in Western Kenya. I do not
Janet ventured into active politics problems, which is believe in failure and I want to encourage
in 2002 while campaigning for her late not possible. young women to focus only on success.
husband, for a county seat. He later With determination they can make it in
became the mayor of Kitale town. In the midst of the socio-cultural challenges
2007 she again was active in political women face, adds the MP.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

T
he Turkana County
MP, Joyce Emanikor,
is fondly known as
Mama Maendeleo (the
woman spearheading
development). Despite
growing up in poverty,
she has worked hard to become well
educated, and now seeks to promote the
welfare of the people in Turkana through
education. Often ravaged by drought
and recurrent famine and insecurity,
the county is ranked among the poorest
in the country. As one of the elected
leaders in the county, Joyce knows that
she has a heavy responsibility upon her
shoulders, but being a self-driven go-
getter the leader is ready for the task. She
is committed to helping transform the
lives of the constituents.
Born in 1962, Joyce attended Lokori
Primary School in Turkana. She was a
private candidate at the Lodwar High
School where she sat for the Kenya Junior
Secondary Education examination, as well
as Sirikwa Secondary School in Eldoret,
where she sat for the Kenya Certificate of
JOYCE EMANIKOR
Education. Joyce taught in her county after
her secondary education, rising to become
TURKANA
an assistant primary school inspector of
education between 1984 and1985. She
graduated from Daystar University in Turkana County parliamentary seat in of the Holy Bible to Turkana language,
2001, with a First Class Honours Degree the 2013 general election. Campaigns between 1985 and1996. She also worked
in Community Development and Peace are hectic and I was forced to suspend with the United Nations Childrens
Building, and later got a Masters Degree studies to concentrate on seeking votes Fund and Oxfam Kenya, among others,
in Development Studies, from Manchester in the expansive county. I succeeded while actively involved in community
University in the United Kingdom. She because of good planning, rejoices the development across Turkana County.
was pursuing a PhD in Environmental first time MP. She is passionate about the growth of
Studies at Moi University, Eldoret, but The married mother of four grown-up her community. We County MPs dont
deferred her studies to campaign for the children participated in the translation have a kitty like CDF to help in the

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

development projects that we initiate our county for years, and retarded I know we can replicate these activities
in our communities. I hope to lobby development, she says. Education was in the whole county, says Hoyce. She
organisations for support for projects like the pillar in my campaign. Literacy level knows that without security, there cannot
bursaries, she says. in Turkana is below 20 percent and this be any development thus since she joined
A proactive leader, Joyce is working has to change, she states. Parliament, she has been vocal on issues
for the unity of Turkana County leaders as Joyce, who was elected on a URP of insecurity in Turkana County.
one way to enable the people to benefit ticket, says that she is concerned that In the National Assembly, Hon Joyce
from unexploited natural resources like few girls in Turkana transition from Emanokor is a member of the Constitution
oil. There is need for elected leaders in primary to secondary school and vows to Implementation Oversight Committee
Parliament and the County Assembly to support the education of girls. I want and the House Business Committee
work hand in hand for the interest of the to see them joining national schools, that programmes the business of the
County at large. Differences may only she says confidently. Other than actively national assembly. She is also a member
serve to expose the County to exploitation promoting education of girls, Joyce also of KEWOPA and Pastoralist Women
by others, she argues. The MP also wants to mentor women leaders in Turkana. Legislators Association.
urges fellow Turkana leaders to work She also plans to help raise the economic
closely with the national government for standards of women in the county
the benefit of Turkana residents. Among through the table banking concept. She
the burning issues she wants addressed points out that one of her activities after Education is key
is the re-tarmacking of the Kapenguria- the elections was to mobilise women and
Lodwar highway, which is in a pathetic the youth to form groups and societies because an educated
condition. The highway is the main link that can benefit from the Uwezo Fund society will achieve
with South Sudan, which is an important and the Women Enterprise Fund. development and
trading partner for Kenya. Environmental conservation is the
Concerned that children in Turkana other development priority Joyce has curb insecurity
walk for many kilometres to school, the identified. She plans to come up with caused by cattle
MP is working to get more schools built activities to involve the community to turn rustling that has
and properly equipped. Educational the semi-arid region into a productive
empowerment is top in her quest to area for food sustainability. Currently bedeviled our county
transform Turkana County. Education most parts of Turkana are dry, without for years, and retarded
is key because an educated society will any agricultural activity save for southern development, she says.
achieve development and curb insecurity parts, in areas like Katilu near Lokichar
caused by cattle rustling that has bedeviled township, where irrigation is carried out.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

T
he story of Joyce
Lay, the Womens
Representative for Taita
Taveta Country, is one
of hope, hard work and
resilience. Joyce grew
up in abject poverty in
Taita Taveta, but did not let this hinder her
from pursuing a better life. From a young
age she understood that poor leadership
and bad governance contributed to
poverty and marginalisation of people in
her region. Lack of opportunities for the
girl child and perennial water problems
were not strange to her.
The sixth child in a family of nine,
Joyce played a leadership role to her
siblings by guiding and mentoring them.
Tragedy struck when her father, the sole
breadwinner, passed on just before she
could complete her education. That did
not deter me from later pursuing education
as an adult. I completed secondary

JOYCE LAY
education in Munda High School and
worked in community development before
venturing into business, she explains.
Her decision to join politics was
not abrupt but rather a transformation
that has evolved over the years, says
TAITA TAVETA
Joyce. Once she made the decision
to vie for political office in the March
2013 election, the next step was to select community concerns. I was passionate in inadequate and poorly equipped health
a party. I chose ODM because of its helping and empowering my community facilities as some of the challenges facing
manifesto and it was also a popular party even before I joined politics, she residents. I am certain that devolution
on the ground, she discloses, and adds explains. I also actively campaigned for will address these issues and now that
that the nomination process was tough. I the new Constitution, which was going I am in leadership there is political will
won because with my campaign pledges to introduce devolution that would bring to transform Taita Taveta, says the MP.
I was able to secure development projects development in my county that had been Since winning the election as a first time
for the county, she says. marginalised for many years. MP, Joyce has achieved tremendous
Even before pursuing political In the coast region, she cites success in Taita Taveta. I have initiated
office, Joyce often responded to many landlessness, poor infrastructure, various projects including table banking

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

to empower women financially. I have there are challenges and thats why
also set up a foundation whose mission politics is a calling and not a career. She
is to promote access to quality education,
We need to do more notes that KEWOPA has been very helpful
reproductive health, and help reduce child civic education on in empowering women MPs through
labour, alcohol and drug abuse, child roles of elected training. I am an active member of
prostitution and address early childhood KEWOPA and my main role is to support
development issues. I have also linked
leaders so that the fellow MPs in pushing for Bills and
local farmers with international markets public can appreciate Motions that resonate with our agenda.
to sell their produce without involvement what we do. An MP is There have been many amendment Bills
of middle men, she explains. by members of KEWOPA that have failed
The MP lauds the March 2013 election
not the solution to all to pass due to lack of support on the floor
as historic for Kenya because more women societal problems but he or of the House. We are networking and
made it to Parliament, compared to she only facilitates processes lobbying across the political divide to
previous elections. But as women we are realise our goals, she reveals.
still far from where we want to be, she
to bring solutions. Several African leaders have inspired
regrets. However, when it comes to gender Hon Joyce Lays journey to leadership,
issues affecting Kenyans, she is glad that can appreciate what we do. An MP is not including Pan-Africanists Kwame
all women MPs speak with one voice the solution to all societal problems but Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Mwalimu
despite coming from different political he or she only facilitates processes to Julius Nyerere; Kenyas independence
coalitions. Male MPs have also come to bring solutions. heroes like Dedan Kimathi, Ronald Ngala
appreciate the role of female legislators To women eyeing political office she and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and in
and they value our contributions in has this advice: Wisely consider before recent times, the second liberation heroes
committees and Parliament. I am proud joining a particular political party. like Kenneth Matiba, Masinde Muliro,
of my contributions in many Motions, Political campaigns are very expensive Martin Shikuku and Kijana Wamalwa. I
which include the Wildlife Act and the and candidates should save or fundraise am also impressed by the role played by
Mining Bill 2014, she notes. early so that they can conduct well- Christian leaders like the late Alexander
To the public, the MP says that there organised campaigns. Availability of Muge, Bishop Okullu and Bishop Dr
is more to being a Member of Parliament, finances also determines which position David Gitari. These are our unsung
beyond representing a constituency or a candidate vies for, the reason why in heroes, she says.
county; it is a call to serve the country. the 2013 election we only had one woman Joyce is married and cherishes
Sometimes one may not be vocal on presidential candidate and very few women spending time with family, despite the
county issues as might be expected candidates running for gubernatorial and pressure that comes with being the
by the constituents but there is always senatorial seats, she observes. peoples representative. She is currently
a lot of lobbying and debating in the The MP urges the media to continue pursuing a degree in Political Science
background while pushing for county giving visibility to women MPs, senators, and Sociology at the University of
interest. Demands and expectations of members of county assemblies and other Nairobi. I am a testament that anyone
the public are extremely high and she aspirants so that society can change can achieve their dreams as long as they
is always careful about how to manage negative stereotypes regarding women are determined and patient. With more
them, especially at the grassroots level. in leadership. These efforts will lead to women leaders, Kenya and the rest of
We need to do more civic education on more votes for women candidates in future the world will see better results, she
roles of elected leaders so that the public elections. Women should never give up, concludes.

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A
lthough she never
had a chance to
pursue further
education, Maison
Leshoomo, the MP
for Samburu County
never let this stop
her from following her dreams. The fact
that I received limited education in my
early days is the more reason I should
represent my community and enhance
girl-child education to beat cultural
norms, she asserts. Born in Mararal
County 50 years ago, Maison was
brought up in a polygamous home and
a community where women are largely
voiceless. Even if a woman had a great
idea, it would be dismissed by the mere
fact that it came from a womans mouth,
she recalls with displeasure. She vowed
to change the status quo.
The first born in a family of eight,
the MP had her education at St Marys
Primary School in Mararal cut short

MAISON LESHOOMO
while she was in class four. Her parents
married her off to a man 20 years older,
claiming that educated women were
disrespectful to the community. Today
she remembers vividly how she defied SAMBURU
her husband to attend public meetings.
This shocked many people but in her
heart, the legislator knew that she was you remain silent, how will these men marriage. I practically stormed homes to
training herself for leadership. I never know even when they hurt you, she pull out girls who had been married off
took orders from my husband or any man would challenge the women. and kept them in my house, she laughs.
lying down, she notes, adding that it is The mother of three shocked her This, she states, was a way to ensure that
a characteristic she has embraces to date. husband when in 1992, she contested and women understood their rights and that
Although the men snubbed her in public was nominated for the then councilors one had to get into marriage at the right
meetings, the young wife would listen seat in Besheba Ward, a position she age in full consent. Even today when I
and later share what was said with other maintained for 10 years. Maison advocated speak on women-related platforms, I insist
women, while urging them to be active against harmful traditional practices such that Samburu women should cuddle their
members of the Samburu community. If as female genital mutilation and early feminine dignity by marrying the man of

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

their choice and choosing the ripe time The legislator reveals that the youth the MP has taken it upon herself to
for marriage, she reiterates. and women were her greatest supporters promote peace between the Samburu
Culture, the MP points out, is not during her 2013 national election and neighbouring communities. The
something one can change in a day. campaign on the Jubilee Coalition policymaker has engaged the youth in
She continues to champion girl-child platform. She will be forever indebted to employment as a way to keep them busy
education and womens empowerment. To them for their support against the odds and sober. She has helped many young
date, her efforts have yielded a number of male domination in Samburu politics, people to get employment in different
of fruits: incidents of FGM and early she says, recalling the nights she spent places within the county, while others
marriage have reportedly reduced in out in the cold with them during her engage in responsible pastoralism.
Samburu. When I visit schools, I pride campaign. She is gratified that she has The MP is currently looking for
in seeing girls being respected by their made her promises good by serving them donors to fund youth programmes in
male counterparts and being accepted in diligently. her constituency. More than 600 elderly
the same classrooms, she observes. The Samburu County MP has also and vulnerable people receive weekly
In 1995, she became a member of been engaged in security and peace food rations from the MPs home. She
Maendeleo ya Wanawake organisation, making at national level, and is a long notes that the group started with only 40
rising to become the chairperson in sitting member of the Samburu District people but has since risen to hundreds.
Maralal district. In 2008, PNU Party Peace Committee. As cattle rustling She has also sponsored 42 students to
nominated her to Parliament. She is quick continues to plague the Samburu people, high schools and colleges to fulfill the
to note that politics is more of a calling promise she made in her manifesto. My
and one does not need to be trained to salary will produce, in someone else, the
be one. You can tell a politician from doctorate that I never got, she declares.
a distance, she notes. The legislator Know your area Hon Maison Leshoomo, who sits in
calls upon women to support each other the Committee on Equal Opportunities,
in politics to give each other a better
well to be able plans to study conflict resolution even
platform, especially in male dominated to address the if at a certificate level. She argues that
areas. A woman politician, she warns, is issues that are the training will polish her skills and
never cowardly. She urges women to step will make her more authoritative in
out of their timidity and face their male
at hand. If you solving disputes in her community and
counterparts with confidence. Know dont know what with the neighbouring communities. She
your area well to be able to address the is needed, how applauds organisations that train women
issues that are at hand. If you dont know in political matters, saying that she has
what is needed, how will you provide it?
will you provide it? benefited a lot especially by being a
she poses. member of KEWOPA.

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Despite the pressure from the locals,


Mary, a Christian who believes that a
womans power and strength to lead is
anchored in the hands of God, took time
to pray. Finally she gave in and became a
member of the TNA Party, which handed
her the ticket to her current position.
Although other parties wanted her to be
their member, the MP opted for TNA as it
focused strongly on empowering women
and the youth. TNA had a future for me.
It is a party that promises to uphold a
commitment to help women and the youth
become resourceful people in the country.
That is what I would like to see, she says.
During the campaign Mary, popularly
known as Mutumia Ngatha (Kikuyu for
the virtuous woman), had an easy time
convincing the electorate to vote in her
favour. In fact, the groups that had directly
or indirectly benefitted from her work took
absolute charge of her campaign without
demanding the usual campaign handouts
from her. I never spent money on my
campaign. The people freely campaigned

MARY MBUGUA
for me because of what I had done for their
families and communities, she says. Even
as she enjoyed generous support, she also
received a fair share of opposition from

NAKURU fellow contestants. They used to say that


I was way past the age of their perceived

S
incumbent of the position, but deep inside
my heart I said, well, the seat is actually not
ince childhood, Mary to vie for the Nakuru County Womens for the girls, she recalls.
Mbugua has been a leader Representative position resulted from a It is that self-control reflecting a
in school and church, and demand by the people who had identified virtuous woman that Mary believes earned
at the helm of social and her leadership skills. Soon after the people her popularity to garner over 400,000 votes
economic transformation realised there was a special seat for women to beat her five challengers. She strives to
for the poor and the in the election, they started encouraging me incorporate her challengers in her projects.
physically challenged to take the opportunity. Each day, I would In all the seminars that I organise in villages
women, men and children. However, at no get various groups including women, the through the churches, I invite my rivals to
time had Mary ever nurtured the desire youth and men in my home with the same enlighten women on how to be self-reliant,
to become a political leader. Her decision message, to go for the seat, explains Mary. she says. Some of her remarkable activities

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

across the country include training women depressing, she notes. But each day she they hide their abilities under the annoying
on dress making, how to make detergents, derives her motivation from her mentors, beliefs that I cannot do this without a
as well as distributing wheel chairs to the Senator Beth Mugo and Prof Wangari man or I am not cut out for a political
physically challenged. Maathai, the late Nobel Laureate, who was position, she advises.
Marys leadership capabilities were her very good friend. These are women of Hon Mary Mbugua is a member of the
manifested through her appointments into noble character who have taught me that Energy as well as the Catering Committees
leadership positions at school and college. when you serve people, you serve God. I in Parliament. On her participation in
She attended Karia Primary School in therefore draw satisfaction from helping parliamentary debates, she says: I am a
Central Kenya before proceeding to Kambui people and seeing them smile, recounts very active member during committee
Secondary School in the same area. She later the mother of six. sittings, and it is the chairperson who
joined Kambui Teachers Training College The MP has an unconditional passion presents our discussions before the House.
for a diploma in teaching. Throughout for building a society with independent, The MP says that for new legislators
my primary school studies, I was a class ambitious and aggressive women. It to become conversant with parliamentary
prefect, the same case in secondary school annoys me to hear a woman saying that business, it requires inductions such as
where I graduated into a head girl. I was she cannot do something because of this or those the MP attended in Nairobi, Mombasa
also a leader in college, says the MP, who that. Women can do anything; all they need and Naivasha, and through KEWOPA. It is
grew up in Kiambu County. is to change their attitude and focus, she through KEWOPAs organised workshops
The MP was a primary school teacher says. She desires to live in an environment for women representatives that I got a firm
for 32 years. In 1986, while serving in the where families are built on a strong grasp of what is expected of us inside and
Ministry of Education, she was seconded foundation of trust, faithfulness, humility, outside Parliament, she says. Being in a
to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa kindness and respect. And that was her male dominated house has taught Mary
as a guild organiser, a duty she faithfully promise to the people during campaign. the art of aggressive persuasion, because
carried out until she retired in 2003. A I have always stood for strong families. passing any women-related Laws or Motions
strong advocate of family values, Mary is We cannot have a peaceful society and requires intense lobbying.
a trained marriage counselor who has for enjoy any development if we have unstable
over 20 years enjoyed saving families from families, she emphasises.
break-up. She has made appearances on Focused on delivering on her promise,
radio and television, educating Kenyans on the MP says she has written proposals to
Despite the
the importance of safeguarding the most development partners seeking finances to concerted efforts
important unit in society: the family. She construct counseling and rehabilitation to encourage
also carries the title of a gospel singer. centres in each of the 11 constituencies in
Under her collections are nine volumes with her county. She reckons that the absence of women to take up
singles in Kikuyu and Kiswahili. a kitty that caters for the development needs leadership positions,
Mary has ably broadened her leadership of Women Representatives has hampered
skills portfolio: she has been to America, their efforts to deliver on their promises.
many are still under-
Zambia, Israel, Cameroon and South Mary says that despite the concerted efforts informed while others
Korea on training in womens leadership. to encourage women to take up leadership harbor the stereotypical
She says that her position is demanding, positions, many are still under-informed
with challenges that require a responsive while others harbor the stereotypical attitude that women
leadership. Almost everybody in the attitude that women are not supposed to are not supposed to be
village wants my help. When they see me, be political leaders. Women have the power
they see money. Some have genuine reasons and strength supplied directly from God
political leaders.
to ask for money, others just lie. It can be to do anything. But that cannot happen if

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

desiring a political position of her own.


She immediately started preparing, and
when the 2013 general election reached,
she contested and won the Kisii County
Womens Representative seat.
Mary, who ran on an ODM Party
ticket, stresses the importance of
scrutinising party manifestos before
joining one. Interrogate the manifesto
well to be sure that the political party
has your peoples interest at heart, she
advises. Mary found sections of the ODM
Manifesto attractive, specifically those
that highlighted issues that are important
to her, like establishment of social welfare
for the elderly people. I identified with
this section most because it was in line
with my vision for the elderly people
whom Ive worked with in my county over
the years, she explains. Her analysis
of the ODM manifesto reveals just how
familiar she is with the document.
Identifying her party of choice was
one thing, and getting to actually contest
through it was another, as Mary shares.

MARY KERAA The nomination process to vie through


ODM was tougher than the actual
election, she laughs. Having previously
KISII served as the chairperson of Maendeleo
ya Wananwake Organisation (MYWO),
Kisii South Branch, Mary was not new to

W
the intrigues of elective politics, including
hen Hon campaigner for retired President, Mwai the possibility of being rigged out. She
Mary Sally Kibaki, through the Akina mama na recalls that there was an attempt to rig
Keraa-Otara Kibaki campaign outfit. Campaigning her out of the contest during nomination
participated for the former president, and previously but that the goodwill of the people was
in the 2007 for former MPs, Zebedeyo Opore of Ford overwhelming.
ge ne r a l People Party, and Charles Onyancha The people supported Mary
election, of KANU Party, was challenging but overwhelmingly because she has a track
her desire for more active involvement enjoyable, recalls the soft-spoken record of development through her work
in politics was ignited. She had been a legislator. The experience of 2007 left her at the Evangelical Lutheran Church since

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

1996. She has also served in various boards apply for various development funds. She
of schools within Kisii. Mary influenced is also working on womens soccer teams
Habitat for Humanity to construct houses Interrogate the in the county to encourage men to work
for 50 poor families, and has ensured with women in all fields. She acknowledges
school fees sponsorship for over 5000
manifesto well to
that Kisii County is broad and requires
children within her county. She has also be sure that the activities that can unify the people. She
been instrumental in feeding some 500 political party has extended the feeding programme of
orphans in the county since 1998. When the orphans to other poor households in
I expressed interest in the seat, I was not
has your peoples
the county by sourcing for support from
worried because it was time to take stock interest at heart. the business and agricultural investors.
of the contribution I had so far made to Even though she is now settled, Mary
the community, she recollects. admits that her first days in Parliament
Marys fascination with politics started were not easy. It took her a while to make
at a very early age. She recalls reading a philanthropic MP was unscathed because her maiden speech because she feared
lot about the pre-independence struggle her family hid her in the car, which sped to be embarrassed by the speaker, like
and analysing the contributions of Kenyas off as soon as the thugs appeared. As he did some of her colleagues. I was
founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta; if that was not enough, when they went anxious he would ask me questions like
the Kapenguria six; JM Kariuki; as well to report the attack, my husband and which standing order? You know how
as later day political developments. She children spent that night in the police the speaker can embarrass you if you mess
has always followed womens political cells apparently for campaigning beyond in Parliament, she laughs. The amiable
activities, with Hon Nyiva Mwendwa the stipulated period, she recalls. MP relates well with colleagues, likening
being her greatest motivation. I was Coming from a humble background, Parliament to any other environment with
fascinated when former President Moi Mary got into politics with very little friendly and not so friendly people. She
appointed her the first female minister money, her only campaign support is a member of the Public Investment
and I am now sitting in the same house being her husband and children. That Committee and the Committee on
with my role model, she says excitedly. notwithstanding, she encourages women Implementation, and is the chairperson of
A God fearing person, Mary says she to take risks and join politics as that is the the Social Welfare and Culture Committee
walked with God throughout her campaign only way to achieve gender parity. She is of KEWOPA. While Mary appreciates that
and everything just fell in place. It is determined to use her leadership position there are more women in Parliament, she
this faith that protected her from a near to encourage her community to elect looks forward to the day they will achieve
fatal attack by political thugs two days more women into Parliament. She stresses the two-thirds majority rule.
before the election. Marys husband, two the need for women across the country Born in 1964, the mother of three
sons and two nephews had accompanied to be trained on leadership, as opposed studied at Kioge Girls Secondary School
her on a campaign activity, and as they to being concentrated in certain regions before joining Neema Lutheran College
were returning home at night, they found only. Women must also learn to attend for a Diploma in Social Work, and later
the road barricaded with rocks and twigs. barazas where the first lessons in political a Degree in Community Development.
No sooner had her husband and sons got leadership are learned, she adds. She says philosophically: I appreciate
out of the car to remove the logs, than While continuing with the projects the people who have all along shown
a mob pounced on them with clubs and she had initiated before her election, confidence in my leadership and I want
other weapons, hurting them badly. Her the development-oriented legislator has to use my time in Parliament to grow
husband broke his leg in the attack. The helped to establish womens groups to others.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

K
ajiado County Womens
Representative, Mary
Seneta, got into
political leadership to
help liberate Maasai
women and girls. The
experienced primary
school teacher started her political
walk in the classroom. When I started
teaching, it became apparent that I was
destined for bigger achievements, and I
often participated in leadership forums
where empowerment of women and girls
was the agenda, she recalls with a smile.
Mary took advantage of every chance
she got to articulate womens issues,
and encouraged womens groups to work
towards economic self-reliance.
Mary went to school in Kajiado
County where men were evidently held in
higher esteem than women. She noticed
that Maasai women did not hold any
leadership positions in the community.
Women were voiceless and kept their
opinions regarding important issues to
themselves. They were sidelined from
leadership. Mary further realised that
MARY SENETA
men were better educated than women,
and started to wonder how her Maasai
KAJIADO
community would be if girls and women
became educated, and got employed like
those in other communities. Maasais she saw were chiefs and MPs. She Role models like her step sister, also
While in primary school, Mary noticed decided to get the best education possible so a primary school teacher, were rare.
the nice clothes her teachers wore, and that she could not only live the good life she She dressed and looked just like the
their generally superior lifestyle. What saw, but also make a name for herself as the teachers from other communities, and
bothered me was that they were all from Maasai woman who dared to dream big. The she constantly encouraged me to follow
non-Maasai communities, she recalls. MP has fought cultural norms that hinder my dreams. Marys other inspiration
Mary often wondered where the learned women in her community from becoming was a local primary school headmistress,
Maasai men and women were, and what leaders. She advocates for education for girls Priscilla Nungurai, who was a crusader
they were doing. The only better off as one way of breaking cultural bias. for the rights of the Maasai girl, and

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

a leading campaigner against female The campaign did not only cost her and exploit the Uwezo Fund. Through the
genital mutilation and early marriage. money, which was limited, but also wore fund, the groups are learning greenhouse
My interactions with Priscilla as a her out since she was nursing her one- farming and irrigation, for food security.
colleague made me desire to become just year-old son. Her family, particularly her Mary contributed to the motion on scrap
like her - a champion for womens rights, husband, supported her a lot. I thank metals because of the effect of vandalism
and a leader with powerful oratory skills. God that he was encouraging in word and of the railway line, gates, and billboards,
The mother of three attended Olturoto deed. He gave me his car and money, and among others. She has also contributed to
Primary School, and Moi Girls School, often created time to accompany me to the Basic Education and University Bills,
both in Isinya District. She attained a different locations, she says. among others.
primary school teaching certificate from nya Party, Mary moved to TNA Party, The dedicated member of KEWOPA
Kericho Teachers Training College, which was the most popular in her county. appreciates the critical role the
and taught untill 2005, when she She has held several leadership positions association has played in enlightening
joined the University of Nairobi for a in various organisations and womens its members, and looks forward to an
degree in Education (Arts). She worked groups, also serving as a board member increase in the number of women in the
at a community-based organisation, of schools and health centres in her area. National Assembly. She is a member of
Dupoto-E-Maa, as an officer in charge of This drew her support from all categories the Education, Research and Technology
capacity building projects such as career of voters, particularly old men and women. Committee, and Regional Integration
motivation for teachers and pupils. Upon Her Christian faith and reputation as a Committee.
graduating, Mary took up a post-graduate hard working businesswoman and farmer
diploma course in Human Resource also endeared her to voters.
Management and started Path Institute Unlike her parliamentary colleagues,
of Technology and Entrepreneurship Mary did not make any promises during
Studies, in Kitengela. The college has her campaign. I asked them for their
nearly 300 students. votes and told them if they voted me in, I
Hon Seneta, who had wanted to would sit with them to agree on priorities
vie as a governor, became a victim of to work on together. She also assured I asked them
gender discrimination, which she has them that she would intensify her projects: for their votes
been campaigning against for a long affording girls quality education, and
time. Her relatives implored her to step empowering women economically.
and told them
down in favour of a male relative who The 42-year-old parliamentarian is that if they
was contesting the same seat. They told optimistic that one day, more than 90 voted me in, I
me that they would not vote for a woman percent of the girls in her community
when there was a male opponent, she will be educated and economically self-
would sit with
states. Women in her county advised her assured. She demonstrates her willingness them to agree on
that as a first time politician, she was to empower women by working very priorities to work
better off vying for a less demanding closely with her opponents in the election.
seat. I reluctantly settled for the Kajiado Since her election, Hon Mary
on together.
County MPs position as I await the right Seneta has helped to construct school
time to run for the gubernatorial seat, dormitories and supported various
she declares. womens groups to initiate table banking,

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

H
er clear sharp
voice and fluency
in Swahili has
already earned
her the nickname,
Mama Mwenye
Kiswahili Sanifu
(The lady with polished Swahili) amongst
her parliamentary colleagues. Her use
of Kiswahili is deliberate, as she wants
people who elected her to follow and
understand her contributions in the
National Assembly.
Mishi Juma, the Mombasa County MP,
recounts that her journey to leadership
began a long time ago. She was a class
monitor in school, a leader in Madrassa
classes where she taught other children
who were younger than her, as well as in
many other groups and in the mass choir.
Her charming and aggressive nature
drew her to start participating in political
campaigns during the 1992 election. She
was then just a youth, but this did not

MISHI JUMA
deter her, because she mobilised other
youth to support one of the parliamentary
candidates for Likoni Constituency, at that
time. She was merely following in her
fathers footsteps, as the chief campaigner MOMBASA
of the parliamentary candidate in that
election. During the time, many people
from different backgrounds used to visit 2007, I felt ready to leave my footprints at the grassroots and with the community.
our home and I was privileged to meet in Likoni Constituency. Unfortunately She participated in the campaign for the
them. This boosted my morale to mobilise I didnt go far. I lost during the ODM referendum for the new Constitution as
male and female youth to campaign, she nominations, which were marred with a part of the Orange team. With the new
says. lot of irregularities, she notes. This did Constitution and new elective positions,
In the 2002 election, Mishi again not kill her morale and she decided to Mishi began consultations with her
participated in various political campaign for the partys candidate, who supporters and elders, and many urged
campaigns. Although her parliamentary won. her to vie for the position of senator.
candidate lost, the presidential candidate The 39-year-old set her eyes on the 2012 This was not going to be easy. She
she was supporting won the election. In election, and aggressively made inroads needed to traverse the six constituencies

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

and 30 wards in Mombasa County to sell The KEWOPA member is grateful for
her candidature. There were also cultural the training and mentorship she received
perceptions that as a woman, I was not as a first time parliamentarian. These
best suited for the seat, she says. Though We need not fear included training on standing orders,
she did not agree with this notion, after budgetary processes, reproductive health
consultations, she opted to vie for the and imagine and HIV, and she looks forward to many
County Women Representative seat in certain seats other eye opening endeavours from
Mombasa. KEWOPA.
are reserved for
The truth is that, the journey was One of the MPs greatest
not easy. I did not receive money from men. We need disappointments is that not a single
my party or any organisation purporting to dream big . . . woman was elected as governor or senator
to assist women, during the campaign. I in the countrys 47 counties. She urges
used my savings, as well as contributions
Let us believe and women not to limit themselves to the
from friends and family to get this far, make solid decisions. County Women Representative seat in the
says the MP. She won the nomination but next election, adding that becoming a
that win was short lived. Another winner county leader is not hard. Women can
was pronounced. I did not accept that do that as they have the qualifications.
decision and lodged a complaint with the We need not fear and imagine certain
party and the National Elections Board. I and she has in her plans, programmes seats are reserved for men. We need to
was given the certificate because I had won which; if undertaken, will better their dream big to become president or deputy
by 125,000 votes with my closest opponent lives. She urges women to apply for president. Yes, we can. Let us believe and
getting 34,000 votes, she recalls. funding from the Women Enterprise Fund make a decision. I competed with richer
The legislator endured verbal abuse, (WEF) that helps them to identify business people, but I soldiered on, she states.
with some people calling her a prostitute. opportunities and prepare business Outside the National Assembly, the
There are times that she witnessed proposals. Some women have already legislator is a board member of several
physical fights between her supporters received funding for their ventures. schools, among them, Likoni Secondary
and rivals, and her marital status was put For the youth in her county, Mishi and Mtongwe Girls Secondary School.
under scrutiny. I am married with two is funding driving courses. Her vision is She credits her zeal, energy, confidence,
children. But my husband is a civil servant to start an education foundation that will enthusiasm and exposure to the training
and there was no way he was going to rope in the girl child who is still lagging and opportunities she received from
participate in my campaign. Because of behind in education and development different forums, especially on women
this, many things were said concerning as a whole. She also would like to bring and youth issues. She lauds AMWIK
my marital status, but I soldiered on and motions in the House for the establishment for training her on public speaking and
dont think such should stop a woman of government funded drug rehabilitation media relations.
from getting into leadership if she has the centres because many are currently Mishi holds a degree in Communication
will to become a leader, she says. owned privately. Parents of children and Public Relations from Moi University.
Hon Mishi Juma sits in the House abusing drugs in my county cannot afford She has worked in the insurance
Committee on Appointments. She is also to take their children for rehabilitation in as well as the clearing and forwarding
a member of the Transport, Public Works the private centres, she says, adding that industries, and as an untrained teacher
and Housing Committee. Women and the there is also need to secure centres for and volunteered in many community-
youth have been her greatest supporters, street children. based organisations at the Coast.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

I
ts been said that you cannot
fight fate. Hon Nasra Ibrahim
was not only unaware of her
fate as the Marsabit County
Women Representative but
also attempted to block her
own destiny when she became
aware of it. She failed. Having served in
the seat for some time now, Nasra has
no doubt that hers was destiny planned
by God. I always tell people that my
joining politics was Gods making, she
says. Hers is clearly an interesting story
of the only MP in the current Parliament,
whose political seat came looking for her.
Born 33 years ago, and brought up
in Moyale, Nasra was enjoying her work
as the Principal of Maragua Muslim
Secondary School in Muranga County in
early 2012, when she received a phone
call all the way from Moyale. On the
line was a representative of her Gare
community elders, requesting her to vie
for the Marsabit County parliamentary
seat. I told them that I was not interested
and was not even prepared to try what
they were asking me to do, she narrates.
NASRA IBREN
Nasra enjoyed moulding her students
and had no plans or dreams of quitting
MARSABIT
her job for any other profession, leave
alone political leadership. She had been
heading the school for two years and had cornered, Nasra consulted her husband the elders to have their way. Even after
many projects to implement. who was also not comfortable with the accepting the elders proposal and
Unknown to Nasra, the council of idea. He said no. Next, she talked to informing them of her decision, Nasra
elders had met, discussed the matter and her siblings just to be sure that she had continued to teach till close of the school
settled on her, and they were not going to made the right decision by maintaining year, in November 2012, when she went
take no for an answer. They bombarded her stand, but her elder sister supported to Marsabit County to start her campaign.
her with call after call and reminded her the elders idea. Nasras sister and her A month after rolling out her
that she was their only choice and that husband talked with Nasra and her campaign, her father passed on. The
they did not have another option. Feeling husband, and convinced them to allow death almost caused Nasra to abandon

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the political race. People who came Vying on an ODM Party ticket, she higher than she had anticipated. This has
to the funeral would be sitting around beat seven other contestants to take the forced her to work harder to fulfill them, as
discussing politics while I was completely seat. Her closest opponent got less than she concurrently manages her wifely and
disinterested, she says. To rejuvenate half her votes. She did not experience parental duties. Despite all this, the MP
her morale the elders, family and friends any financial challenges because all wants to leave a legacy, an appreciation
urged and encouraged her to focus on the candidates vying on an ODM ticket to her community for choosing her for
better place ahead. Finally she gathered in Marsabit County had pooled their the seat. I want them to know that their
courage and soldiered on. When schools resources beforehand. Nasra fully votes were not lost, says the legislator,
re-opened in January 2013, Nasra went appreciates her husband for supporting who sits in the Education, Research and
back to Maragua to resign from her job, her during the uncertain and trying time. Technology Committee.
and there her journey in politics officially He didnt rest even once; we would
kicked off. From there on, I never had spend nights out on the campaign trail,
any rest even for a day, until the election and I am grateful to him for that, she
day, she recalls the rigorous campaign. says.
The reception she got during her The mother of three young children
campaign confirmed to Nasra that she all under 10 years attended primary
had made the right decision. According and secondary school in Garissa, before
to the MP, the county population gave going to Sudan for her undergraduate
her overwhelming support because they and Masters degree in Arabic language.
felt that she was a born leader who did She also has a certificate in teaching
not discriminate against anyone. They from the University of Africa, in Sudan, The problem
openly praised her for interacting with and a Diploma in Linguistics from the
everyone, regardless of their status, a trait University of Nairobi. Although her entry of water
that endeared her most to the council of into politics was late, her agenda for the persists. I will
elders. She was known for mentoring, people of Marsabit County is clear. She do whatever I
guiding and counseling young girls in is focusing on enabling women and girls
her community. It all comes naturally attain education and socio-economic can. Let it cost
I love influencing young lives and development. To develop her community, whatever it will
shaping the lives of girls particularly, Nasra is looking for ways in which water but this one I
irrespective of their social classes, the can be easily available. She recalls a time,
MP states. When I went to the ground all before even considering a life in politics, have to do.
the people accepted me, she adds. The when she spent Kshs50,000 to buy water
only opposition came from right under for the residents. She had been moved by
her nose; her uncle (fathers brother) who their desperation for water. The problem
had wanted the seat for his daughter of water persists. I will do whatever I can.
Nasras cousin was upset that Nasra Let it cost whatever it will but this one I
also declared her interest in the position. have to do, she promises.
When the community leaders declined Since getting into Parliament, Nasra
to reverse their decision, Nasras uncle has quickly discovered that the demands
decided to campaign against her. and expectations of her constituents are

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stresses that gender equality in political


leadership is still a dream. Some may
term my words primitive; that were equal
with men, but it is easier said than done.
A woman politician still has to live a very
guarded life; watching what you say, where
you go, and your associates, because for a
woman, you can easily walk yourself out of
politics for making a very small mistake, the
humourous legislator notes. Nyiva adds that
any minor mistake a female politician makes
in Parliament gets glorified, while men will
do big things that shake the country, and
no one will touch them. We advise younger
politicians to watch their words and their
actions because little mistakes will never be
forgotten, she advises.
Nyiva was a key player in crusading
for gender equality, and she is glad that
the country finally has affirmative action
entrenched in its constitution. Im not for
the one third provision though, why cant
we get 50/50 - after all women comprise
52 per cent of the population! Arent we
more than men? The Kitui County MP

NYIVA MWENDWA adds that ordinary life has more women


working in the farm and trading, and
this should be reflected in distribution of
resources. In Parliament, this inequality
KITUI is seen in the fewer number of women
against men. Were still not enough, we

S
dont have the one third yet, and the men
he is the longest politicians are getting from us; Grace are already feeling like were too many,
serving Kenyan female Onyango was our only mentor, and we she laughs.
politician, having been were also very few female MPs then, she As the Minister for Culture and Social
first elected the MP for laughs. Having intermittently served as Services, Hon Nyiva Mwendwa led a
Kitui West Constituency an MP between her first election in 1974, delegation of women to the Beijing
in 1974. Because of her and her current term in Parliament, the Womens Conference of 1995, and upon
experience, the warm soft-spoken but blunt talking Nyiva has their return, lobbied the government to
natured Nyiva Mwendwa has taken up gathered gems of wisdom that she readily ensure equal opportunity for all. What
the role of mentoring many of the recently shares with youthful female politicians. we were asking for was equal access to
elected female MPs. We older politicians Noting that a lot of positive changes employment opportunities for women and
missed what this current breed of female have occurred in Kenyan politics, Nyiva men, salaries and wages, admission to

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schools and universities, etc; but it was not. I wish there were more men who could them initiate development projects. It is
perceived very negatively at the time. encourage their wives like that, she says. hard to explain why county MPs dont have
The country was still very conservative, While it took Nyiva another seven any funds because were not duplicating
she recalls. The 73year-old legislator was years to come back to Parliament after any roles, she states.
then serving as the first female cabinet her husbands death, she never lost her Because of knowing what she was
minister in Kenya, having been appointed vision or acumen in politics during what going for, together with her experience
by former President Daniel Arap Moi after she terms her longest parliamentary break. in politics and development record in
the 1992 general election. I continued to work with people in the Kitui, Nyivas campaign for the womens
Known to have a taste for good constituency. Some of the major problems representative seat was easier than some
life, Nyiva attended secondary school they were facing then were lack of water, of her earlier constituency campaigns.
at the prestigious African Girls High electricity, and good schools. I started Vying on a Wiper Democratic Party ticket,
School (present day Alliance Girls by ensuring they received water from the she funded her own campaign, which
High School). She then joined the Royal Masinga Dam, she narrates. Nyiva also she says would not have been possible
College (University of Nairobi) to study helped to dig many boreholes, renovated for a beginner in politics. Lets face it,
a Manchester University (UK) Diploma schools, health centres and dispensaries, women still own less resources, yet to win
in Education, and later a London and brought electricity closer to the an election and rise in politics, we need
University post graduate Diploma in Home people. That is not enough, I desire to resources for campaign, she says. And
Economics and Community Development, see every homestead with running showers although she did not face insecurity, the
before acquiring a Masters Degree in and flash toilets. The roads are not yet MP says it is one of the main challenges
Environmental Analysis (majoring in good. I want all the dirt roads to have women politicians face, alongside male
Textile Science, with a minor in Interior tarmac, she asserts. domination. A married woman still has to
Design) from Cornell University, USA. I Nyiva has also helped women of Kitui seek her husbands consent to vie, and in
practised interior design for a while and to grow their income base by teaching most cases he says no, she notes.
then decided to concentrate all the effort them more ways to run businesses and Nyiva who has also been a keen
in my own house, she shares. increase their agricultural output. This is party official, serving in the executives
Married into a family with many why I join other womens representatives of KANU, NARC, ODM-Kenya and now
politicians, Nyiva sometimes vied against in Parliament to push for a development Wiper Democratic Party, plans to retire
her brothers-in-law. Her late husband, fund, she states. She believes that county from politics at the end of this term. My
Kitili Maluki Mwendwa, also won the seat MPs should be allocated a fund to help age is now advanced and any strength
twice, the first time in a bi-election after left, I want to invest in family, shares the
Nyiva lost the 1979 general poll, and the proud mother of two, and grandmother
second time in 1983, serving until 1985 Im not for the one of four. The born-again Christian sits in
when he died in a road accident. Kitili was the Departmental Committee on Defense
also the first native Kenyan chief justice. third provision and Foreign Relations. She says that her
Having been Nyivas political advisor and though, why cant faith has without a doubt helped her live
strongest support, his death was a big her life as a widow with dignity, patience,
blow to Nyiva. The toughest period in my
we get 50/50 - after resilience and tenacity. When youre
political life was when my husband died, all women comprise with God, youre never alone. After my
she says somberly. Were it not for her 52 per cent of the husbands death, I have not struggled
husbands words spoken in premonition, with loneliness, Ive raised our daughter
Nyiva would not have remained in population! Arent we and son, and Ive kept our estate and even
politics. He once told me that I was a more than men? invested more. Im sure it is the Lord who
good politician whether he was around or has helped me, she concludes.

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P
riscilla Nyokabi is one
of the youthful, dynamic
and visionary legislators
whose focus is to bring
positive change in the
society. The 35 year-old
lawyer comes across as
an ambitious, diligent and committed
leader who has already achieved a lot in
her journey to political leadership.
The first born in her family, Priscilla
hails from Othaya and was raised by
her civil servant parents, who always
encouraged her to excel in her studies.
She graduated from the University of
Nairobi with a Law Degree after which
she joined the Kenya School of Law. In
2004, she qualified as an advocate of the
High Court of Kenya and worked with
the International Commission of Jurists
(ICJ) Kenya Chapter, for six years. In
2009, she joined Kituo cha Sheria as the
Executive Director. She was nominated
by the Nation Media Groups Business
Daily as one of the Top 40, Under 40
Women excelling in their careers in 2010
and 2011. Under her leadership, Kituo
PRISCILLA NYOKABI
cha Sheria was declared the Civil Society
Organisation of the Year in 2010. NYERI
It was while working at the two
institutions that Priscilla began to question
the rising rate of human rights violation At first, Priscilla had considered the county, quality healthcare and water
in the society. She realised the need to running as an independent candidate for all, quality education that is student
lobby for better laws that would protect but later opted to join TNA. Her choice and performance based, and support
all Kenyans. After the promulgation of of party was influenced by its manifesto for the welfare of women and the youth.
the Constitution in August 2010, Priscilla and popularity in the county. The She also committed to uphold strong
decided to join politics. Consequently, party was also fair to women aspirants representation at the national level. The
in 2012, she resigned from her job to and charged them half the nomination campaign period was very involving and
campaign for the County Womans fees. Priscilla campaigned on a seven- she received a lot of support from women
Representative seat in her home county, point plan in Nyeri. These included: and the youth.
Nyeri. promoting value added agriculture in The MP did not experience physical

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abuse but there were incidents where she male counterparts, women legislators
was verbally abused, and as a precaution, work as a team in the National Assembly
she had to hire her own security team regardless of their party affiliation. She
to avert situations that could escalate to says that although the House Speaker
violence. She won the nomination election Women leaders and KEWOPA are very supportive of
to represent her county in the National the women MPs, their biggest challenge
Assembly.
also need to set the is finding a balance on work and the
Having made regular appearances bar high by being publics high expectation. Sometimes
before parliamentary committees while at transformative the media also chooses to portray us in
Kituo cha Sheria and ICJ Kenya, Priscilla bad light and will hardly report positive
was not a stranger to the workings of
leaders who society stories about our work, she argues. She
Parliament. Incidentally, it had been can look up to. appeals to the media to be objective since
through those meetings that she had it plays a key role in informing Kenyans.
identified the need to have strong The MP appreciates various
laws that would push for and enhance organisations that trained and equipped
development. She believes that solutions her to sharpen her leadership skills. These
for governance are in Parliament and include the Centre for Rights Education
especially in the budget process. (CREAW), WILDAF Kenya, Women
During her term in the 11th Parliament, Amendment Bill to ensure that 30 per Empowerment Link (WEL), UN-Women
she plans to introduce the Small Claims cent of government tenders are given to and AMWIK, which trained her on how
Courts Bill that will seek to create courts women and the youth. to work with the media and write her own
for petty offences and claims so as to The organizing secretary of the press releases.
decongest the current courts. She will also Women Representative Caucus, which is She encourages women to vie for
introduce The Housing Bill that will push championing for creation of a fund for political positions and not to shy away
for regulation of housing as a right to all social development applied by County because they are equal partners with
Kenyans. Housing is mainly controlled MPs, Priscilla is also the vice chairperson men. Women leaders also need to set
by the private sector and there is need of the Justice and Legal Affairs the bar high by being transformative
for government to be involved too, so Committee and a member of the Budget leaders who society can look up to. The
that all Kenyans can have decent housing and Appropriations Committee. She sits legislator is greatly inspired by Narc
no matter their income, the Nyeri in the House Business Committee, whose leader and presidential candidate in the
County MP argues. She is also actively mandate is to set the National Assemblys 2013 election, Hon Martha Karua, and
involved in the Freedom of Information calendar. the late 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate,
Bill. She commits to support government Hon Priscilla Nyokabi says that Prof Wangari Maathai.
Bills, especially the Public Procurement although women MPs are fewer than their

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Primary School in Nairobi, before


moving to Emalindi Secondary School
in Khwisero Constituency, Kakamega
County for her secondary education. Born
some fifty years ago, she holds an MBA
from Daystar University and a Bachelors
Degree in Entrepreneurship from the
Kenya Methodist University. She believes
in education as the foundation to a better
future. It is no wonder that Rachael spends
a lot of her time in her county promoting
better educational opportunities for all.
She has invested a lot in providing
free sanitary towels to young girls in
schools, so that they can remain in
school throughout. Most of the girls
usually miss school because they cannot
afford sanitary towels. Interacting with
the girls, most of them say that they are
asked at home: Is it ugali that we will eat
or those sanitary towels? - a sad state of
affairs, that leaves me with no option but
to help the girls to pursue education with
dignity, states the first time legislator.

RACHEL AMESO
She is also supporting the education of
many young people in secondary schools,
two of them in Alliance and Lenana Boys
KAKAMEGA Schools. She also visits different schools
to give learners motivational talks. We
need to invest in young people as they

W
are our future leaders, she states.
hen Rachael women and give back to the community. According to the MP, Kakamega County
A m e s o Her passion in advocating for the rights has limited employment opportunities
A m o l l o of those who are less privileged made as it does not have any manufacturing
decided to her endure the exhausting journey industries, and the agricultural land is
run as the to capturing a seat to Parliament. fast diminishing. For that reason, she has
Member of Campaigning in all the 12 Constituencies made it a point to educate women and
Parliament in Kakamega County was no easy feat for the youth on how to tap into the Youth
for Kakamega County, her main aim was the businesswoman. Enterprise Fund and the Uwezo Fund, to
to promote the economic wellbeing of Rachael attended Makongeni West start income generating activities that will

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make them self-reliant. She notes that it to do so much and at times you have positions. This does not have to wait for
is not enough to provide fish, but people limited resources, she states. the election year, but should start years
need to be taught how to hook the fish. On her campaign trail, Rachael got in advance, so that more women are
With support from the government and support from the youth, men and women. mentored to vie for elective positions,
proper planning by us leaders, the county She did not receive any financial support she advises.
will have a huge turnaround that will cause from her party or any sponsor but used Rachael sits in the House Committee
it to develop further. her savings to campaign for the seat. The on Delegated Legislation whose mandate
Having familiarised herself with the ODM Party legislator chose the CORD is to examine statutory instruments
county during the campaign and after her coalition based on its manifesto, which submitted to the National Assembly; the
election in 2013, Rachael acknowledges gives women an opportunity to serve. Energy, Communication and Information
that there are many challenges that need Women are the best managers; they know Committee; and the Committee on
to be addressed for the development what they are doing. They think of their Selection, whose mandate is to nominate
of her county. It is like a drop in the children, their name and their reputation MPs to sit in committees. Rachael is
ocean, it feels like nothing has been and they start to manage straight from an active contributor to debates in
done. Kakamega is one of the most highly their houses, she shares. Parliament.
populated regions in the country with very The single mother and grandmother
high levels of poverty, but you still have says that she relates well with colleagues
to do your best in such circumstances, she in Parliament. Parliament being home to
states, with hope. She believes that it is different people from different cultures
her duty as a leader to help improve the and backgrounds has made Rachael
lives of citizens. It is like being a mother, better able to understand and appreciate It is not enough
where it is your responsibility to feed your diversity. She gets her inspiration from
children. Whatever the size of the bread, reading the Bible, praying and dreaming to provide fish,
you have to share it, and to some extent big. but people need
you have to give it all to the children even The member of KEWOPA is grateful to be taught
when you lack, she states. for the associations support and
Hon Ameso says thatKakamega needs assistance since joining Parliament. She how to hook
leaders who have a heart for the people; believes that KEWOPA can do more than the fish. With
vibrant leaders who will inject fresh capacity building for members through support from the
ideas that will propel the county forward. activities such as helping women MPs
Meeting the demands of the residents has identify ways to bring development to government and proper
not been an easy task and she says that their counties. She also believes that planning by us leaders, the
she has to come up with new ways to do KEWOPAs activities should extend county will have a huge
what she promised them. Rachael relies beyond the confines of parliamentary
heavily on 15 years of work experience membership but also to other women turnaround that will cause
and business success in her county work. aspiring for political positions This will it to develop further.
She is currently helping famers in every help us have more women elected into
constituency to develop green houses to the next Parliament. I believe there is still
enhance food security. You have to be more to be done to get women to decision
prepared, as other people will want you making positions, more so in elective

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S
he came into the political
limelight after the 2007
General Election. The
feisty Nairobi County
Women Representative
boisterously approached
House debates
and exhibited great courage in the
predominantly male Parliament. Today,
Rachel Shebesh is one of the many
outspoken women MPs competing with
her male colleagues on an equal footing
during debate in the National Assembly.
She is notable for her ability to marshal
her colleagues in the Jubilee Coalition
to support Motions deemed important by
the government.
The daughter of former Nairobi mayor,
Shebesh was born in 1971 in Nairobi.
When you grow up with a leader as your
father, it is easy to say that leadership is
in the blood, she notes. However, Rachel
has shed blood, sweat and tears to be

RACHEL SHEBESH
successful.
Following her fathers long career as
a civic representative inspired Rachel
into joining politics. She was particularly
struck by how easily he interacted with
and tried to work with everybody. My
NAIROBI
father was so good at networking and
speaking fiercely against the social evils
in the society that all I want to do is to thrive on anything that looks difficult to by the new Constitution, she says. She
carry his legend forward, she discloses. do, says the MP. is happy that women have added their
In 2007, ODM nominated the When in 2010 the Constitution voices to the countrys development
outspoken politician into Parliament. It created the position of County Women agenda, and that what remains is to seek
was during that term that she emerged Representative, Rachel set her eyes on their representation in all spheres of the
as an organiser, an outspoken defender the Nairobi seat. She joined TNA, and countrys leadership.
of womens rights, and an observant by extension, the Jubilee Coalition. I am The Constitution, adds the MP, has
member of the House. I dont fear, Im excited about the opportunities available made it easier for women who cannot
not intimidated and I love challenges. I for women, especially those provided boast of any connections to make a mark

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in politics and to represent their people aspirants need more training on strategic
effectively. The current Constitution planning and communication to enable
has offered exciting opportunities for them to penetrate party structures. There
women in top positions in the countys If you look at the is hope and time, she says, for women to
leadership, such as senator, governor, achieve this.
deputy governor, member of parliament
Bills brought to Hon Rachel Shebesh has served in
and women representative, she adds. Parliament by various other national, regional and
Now one does not need tonnes of women, they continental capacities. In 2009, she was
money, a husband or a name to compete the UN Champion for Disaster and Risk
for political leadership, she states.
deal with bread- Reduction in Africa. Her main role was
From her experience in Parliament, and-butter issues to promote synergy between disaster
Rachel has noticed that it is the women that affect the risk reduction and climate calamities.
who bring Bills and ideas that they know She has also served in other roles,
make a difference in the lives of fellow
mwananchi. including as chairperson of the African
women, such as the Bill criminalising Parliamentarian Initiative for Climate
female genital mutilation, and the Risk Reduction, member of the Pan
now Childrens Act. If you look at the African Parliament, and rapporteur in the
Bills brought to Parliament by women, The legislator is grateful to the Pan African Parliaments Committee on
they deal with bread-and-butter issues various non-government organisations, gender, family, youth and people with
that affect the mwananchi. Thats why membership associations such as disabilities. She was vice-chairperson of
we encourage more women to vie for AMWIK, and civil society organisations, the African Parliamentarians Network
parliamentary seats, she says. for training women and building their against Corruption, and has served as the
Rachel is a member of the Speakers capacity prior to the campaigns for the assistant treasurer of KEWOPA.
Panel, the House Business Committee, the 2013 election. In her opinion, the efforts A fashion designer by training, Rachel
Procedures and House Rules Committee, in preparing women to produce results is a mother of three and says that her
and the Labour and Social Welfare will definitely help in coming closer to husband is her greatest supporter. In an
Committee. She was also nominated by the one third women representation in interview with Citizen Television, she said
TNA for a possible second term at the the next Parliament. Kenya will soon that he is often the first to send her a text
Pan African Parliament, alongside two acknowledge that a womans leadership message when he feels that she has made
senators and two of her national assembly is about integrity and ethics, she affirms. a good contribution in Parliament. The
colleagues. The MP however points out that women couple recently become grandparents.

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V
ery few people wake
up every morning
to do what they like
best and get paid for
it. And when they
come back home,
they are gratified
that they enjoyed their day - tired as they
may be. Hon Regina Changorok, a former
primary school teacher and now West
Pokot County Member of Parliament is one
such person. The 52-year-old legislator
says that all her social and professional
engagements have been a continuation of
what she likes best: fighting to protect
the interests of the girl-child and the
Pokot woman.
The MP interest in womens issues
and leadership dates back to when she
was subjected to FGM at a tender age.
Reginas father had died long before she
joined primary school, and the MP believes
he probably would have given her mother
the support she needed to ward off the
elderly women who circumcised Regina
against her will. It was traumatising! I
felt abused and violated and as I grew up
REGINA CHANGOROK
I vowed to deliver Pokot women from such
maltreatment, the sixth born in a family
WEST POKOT
of eight recollects. Regina did not know
where her ambition would land her, but
was convinced that one day she would be achievement convinced that it is a result classroom into Parliament is not a walk
the saviour of the voiceless Pokot woman. of her earlier work. Her leadership in the park.
Joining Mosoriot Teachers Training skills became evident when she served Regina didnt enjoy the process of
College after graduating from Nasokol as prefect and head-girl in school. At learning how to become an MP. The new
High School was the best decision for home, my mother could not make any environment that is completely different
Regina, as being a teacher would give family decision without consulting me, from her school and classroom often made
her an authoritative platform to bond never mind that I had elder brothers, her feel out of place. She feared making
with and speak on behalf of women and she states. mistakes, even as she quickly learned how
girls. Today Regina smiles at her political Jumping from a primary school to ask a question or address the Speaker.

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Every day is a learning day and Im still West Pokot County MP, he didnt take her behaviour in my community, she
learning a lot in Parliament, she adds. seriously. He was later to be the man who explains. Today she has earned a lot of
Reginas mission to pronounce the liberty spoke about womens leadership vocally respect within the community and relates
of the Pokot woman and witness educated in our local church and in most of my well with the people, having been born
girls in her community gives her strength campaign meetings, she acknowledges, and brought up in the county. I have
to soldier on daily. with a chuckle, that she owes most of her lived in the village all my life. I commuted
Regina finds life in Parliament achievement to him. daily from my village home to Nasokol
exciting, with everyone willing to listen Regina opted to vie on a URP ticket, a Primary School till I got elected Member
and help. Disagreeing with someone in party she refers to as the better option, of the County Assembly, she adds.
Parliament is nothing personal and for a because it also vouched for her to join The county MP enjoys cordial relations
first timer like me, it enhances my skill the Parliamentary Service Commission. her challengers in the election, adding that
for future Parliamentary endeavours, She was attracted to the URP slogan they learnt a lot from each other during
she notes. Most of the time, the MP opts Kusema na Kutenda because she the campaign and after the election.
to remain silent in Parliament, as she believes in action. In her manifesto Though she won with a margin of more
believes that her good work will speak she had promised to promote girl-child than 20,000 votes, Regina believes the
for her. I find talking a lot consuming education and already she has sponsored work she does will be of more value at the
a lot of my time that I would otherwise five female students to school. She had end of the day than the number of votes
be using to serve my community! she also promised to empower Pokot women she got. She is working hard to deliver
chuckles. With great aspirations for the to own property, which can support the her services satisfactorily. I am already
2017 election, Regina is unwavering entire family. She consequently holds paying school fees for some students
in her effort to complete projects that meetings with women in her county to in the county and have helped several
she has started in West Pokot County. empower them to start small projects that women groups in their projects, she says.
She owes a lot to organisations such as can reduce poverty. There was no heckling or disruptions
KEWOPA and Women Regional Assembly A networker by nature, Regina during Reginas campaign because she
that fully prepared her for her new life interacted a lot with key male and female walked with authority, she says and
in Parliament. To women aspirants, my voters in her county during the campaign. attributes it to her teaching career. She
message is simple: dont let your male It is taboo for a woman to speak before says teaching earned her respect long
counterparts underrate you, she advises. men, but I had to brave it if I was going before she got into politics. If anyone
The wife and mother of four, describes to help stamp out irresponsible cultural wanted to say anything negative about my
the state of women and girls in her team or myself, they said it in whispers,
community as marital colonialism, she adds.
adding that her greatest dream was to To women The MP understands the value of
become a lawyer to save the Pokot women empowering both men and women, one
from this injustice. With so many family
aspirants, my of the many skills she learned from her
responsibilities facing her however, she message is simple: widowed mother of eight. It is true that
opted to train as a teacher. Regina is also dont let your by empowering a woman, the whole family
studying at the Nairobi University for a and society is empowered. However, it is
Diploma in Psychological Counseling.
male counterparts my obligation as a leader to serve men
When she told her husband, a former underrate you. and women equally, as they all supported
area chief, of her ambition to become the me during my campaign, she concludes.

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S
he had never dreamt
of becoming a political
leader until an incident
propelled her to seek a
higher level from which
she could solve problems
of widows, in particular.
In 2006, Dr Reginalda Wanyonyi met
her sons friend who appeared to need
assistance. On further investigation, she
learned that indeed not just the youth
needed assistance, but that his mother, a
widow, lived in pathetic conditions. Her
first meeting with the widow was rather
bizarre, but eye opening. She was on
the grave of her late husband, crying and
listing the problems she was facing after
his death. As I listened to her, I felt like
she was talking to me and not to her late
husband. I was disturbed, recalls the MP.
The first person Reginalda thought of
approaching to assist the widow, was the
area MP. She called him several times and
booked many appointments but never got
to meet him. It hit me that if I could not
get to him despite my education and better
off status in society, what about the weak
and needy like the widow I was trying to
intercede for? she poses. She decided to
REGINALDA WANYONYI
survey the state of other widows in her area
and help them find solutions. What she
BUNGOMA
discovered impelled her to take immediate
action. Most of the widows woke up each the Kimilili Constituency parliamentary of disrespect by contesting against male
morning with red, swollen eyes, from seat in 2007. Since independence, no pillars of the community. Reginalda
crying throughout the night I sought to woman from my area had been elected or vied from the little known Peoples Party
become a voice for them, she narrates. nominated into Parliament, I was hoping to of Kenya, having decamped from Ford
The assertive legislator confesses that be the first, she asserts. Kenya. AMWIK had encouraged us to vie
she didnt consider joining politics as Campaigning for the constituency seat on whatever party available, so long as we
a way of assisting the widows, until her opened her eyes to political challenges knew what we had to offer the electorate,
husband suggested it. He told me to vie she had never imagined, the greatest she recalls. Reginalda emerged fifth out of
for a parliamentary seat, and take up the of them being the deep cultural bias 13 contestants.
burden that was obviously mine, she against women in leadership. Because of Reginalda started projects in her area
laughs. That is how Reginalda vied for her authoritativeness, she was accused even after losing the 2007 election. She

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encouraged women to start small savings served as the deputy secretary general of
schemes and helped them to start poultry University Academic Staff Union (UASU), Articulate issues
and goat farming, towards economic at Moi University. The university union
stability. The savings project has since elections were tough, but not comparable
beyond political
evolved into the Bungoma County Womens to constituency or county level elections, parties. Drop the
SACCO that has savings of Kshs10 million, she points out. She has served in various ego or negative
a lot of it having been rolled back into boards, including the National Governing
development projects. As we speak, there Council of NEPADs African Peer Review attitude, and
are smaller groups saving to buy buses and Mechanism; the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation; youll be accepted.
vans to enter the transport market, she the Inter Christian Fellowships Evangelical
discloses. Mission (IcFEM); and many secondary and
Nomination to vie on the Ford Kenya Party higher learning institutions. because choices change, but Im
ticket was her first challenge. Determined As the chairperson of the fast growing comfortable representing women. Its not
to contest, she decamped to the New Ford Bungoma County Womens SACCO, an inferior position, she states. Her vision
Kenya Party, but the challenges were still Reginalda has a big vision. She wants covers the country, as she plans to be an
numerous. Some men ganged up against each woman in the county to know the effective legislator who is able to deliver
me, and heavily financed my opponents, power of saving that any income can be in her oversight role, to eradicate poverty,
she recalls. The mother of five had to use saved for a better future. She is working insecurity and corruption, and to promote
family resources for the campaign and is with various organisations to build the harmonious living and cohesion between
glad she won. She endured verbal abuse womens capacities and increase their all the people of Kenya.
and intimidation, and in the end, my kids resources through poultry, dairy goat and Indian nationalist, the late Mahatma
suffered most from the insults thrown my cattle farming. Were hoping to have a Gandhi, is her role model. He was available
way, she shares. dairy plant soon. I want the women to be for the common man. We need leaders
A natural leader, Reginalda has economically independent, she declares. like Gandhi who celebrated humanity
demonstrated her abilities in managing Because of rampant violence against and diversity, she says. Inspired by the
her family and in her career. Married women and girls, the MP is also sensitising boldness of Narc Kenya leader, Hon Martha
in an extended family, she helped her parents and the community on the need to Karua, and the motherliness of Senator
husband to bring up his orphaned younger respect this group of people. Beth Mugo, the legislator believes that
siblings, carefully juggling her duties as For the youth, she continues to the Kenyan women politicians have living
a wife and mother with her teaching role distribute textbooks to under-resourced examples to emulate. The MP who serves in
at Moi University. After secondary school secondary schools, as schools that have the Budgetary as well as the Environment,
education at Lugulu Girls High School, received the books have recorded better Water and Natural Resources Committees,
the born-again MP attained a Bachelors grades in exams, she observes. To give is also an executive committee member of
Degree in Education (Economics) from girls dignity, Reginalda distributes sanitary KEWOPA.
Kenyatta University. She taught briefly at towels, and is working towards establishing Be bold. Dont fear, are the MPs
her former high school before joining Moi a girls rescue centre to accommodate words of encouragement to female political
University as an administrator. While on casualties of early pregnancies, particularly aspirants. She adds that political leadership
staff, Reginalda pursued Masters and PhD from the Mount Elgon area. With support is not for the faint hearted, but is a call to
degrees in Environmental Studies. She was of the county government, the legislator plunge with hope. Articulate issues beyond
a lecturer and integrity assurance officer at established Mbakalo Girls Secondary political parties. Drop the ego or negative
the university, before joining politics. School in the county. attitude, and youll be accepted, she
Elective leadership was not new to her Hon Reginalda Wanyonyi is cautious advises. She looks forward to the time when
though, as she had successfully vied for and about disclosing her plans for 2017, Parliament will have a 50/50 gender balance.

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In 1979, Rose joined the University of


Saskatchewan in Canada, from where she
graduated with a degree in Sociology.
She later pursued a higher national
diploma in psychological counselling at
the University of Nairobi. In 1985, she
landed her first job as a civil servant
in the Ministry of Culture and Social
Services, later becoming a deputy director
at the Family Life Programme. She joined
the National Council of Churches of
Kenya (NCCK) as a programme officer
in an advocacy programme for the youth,
women and other vulnerable groups,
in 1997. I was working at Life Skills
Promoters when I decided to resign and
venture into politics. I had worked with
many groups and was confident about
succeeding, she says. I have worked
with the church for many years. I have
learnt to listen and help people, she
states.
Currently pursuing a Masters degree
in Development Studies at St Pauls

ROSE MITARU
University, Rose says: I resigned in 2011
to concentrate on my studies as I laid the
foundation for my political campaign.
That year, when she made the decision to
EMBU vie for the seat of Embu County Women

H
Representative, Rose knew that it would
not be smooth sailing.
on Rose Mitarus Born in Runyenjes, Embu County, and Brought up in the Christian faith, Rose
c o m p o s e d married in Mbeere, Rose attended Kathanjuri is a very spiritual woman, who is steadfast
demeanour projects Primary and later Embu Girls (today Kangaru in her faith. During the campaigns for
her as a respectable Girls) schools. She had a keen interest in the 2013 election, some of her opponents
leader, one who sports and served as the games captain in used this against her, describing her as
seems keen on the both primary and secondary school, excelling too conservative. I never give people
politics of issues in different athletic sports, particularly the bribes. I do not believe in hand outs,
and not mere brickbats for publicity. 1,500 metres race. I also played hockey. I she says of the first criticism she faced.
Perhaps it is because she is a counselling loved the discipline and the resilience that I My opponents gave people money. I did
psychologist. derived from sports, she says. not. My faith would not allow it.

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The party nominations were gruelling. on income generating activities. This The legislator does not shy away from
Unlike many places in the Mt Kenya will enable them to access opportunities pointing out the divisions perpetrated
region where bagging The National availed by the government. She further in the county between the Mbeere and
Alliance (TNA) was almost a guarantee of notes that as County MP, her work is Embu people by selfish leaders. I want
a win, it was different in Embu County. not just about women and children. In members of both communities to have
The Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) had fact, I fear for the boy child. He is being a sense of belonging, and feel that they
a strong presence, and in fact, an APK neglected by all the systems. All the focus fully own Embu, she says.
candidate won the Senate seat. Rose is on the girl child. It is not healthy for Rose reveals that the publics
sailed through and was nominated by society. perception of differences between
TNA. After the nomination, the real politicians from different parties is an
campaign began, she explains. In the act of choreography. I was surprised
race for the nomination of Embu County that ODM and TNA MPs mingle easily
Women Representative, she beat 15 with each other, have tea and talk a lot
rivals, including the APK candidate, her among themselves without the issue of
closest challenger, with more than 25,000 There is the parties cropping up, she notes. She has
votes. Even with the usual challenge of business of making also learnt that MPs work hard despite
matching the financial muscle of the the perception by the public that there
opponents, my policies prevailed, says
laws, committee isnt much to do. There is the business
the MP. meetings to of making laws, committee meetings to
Rose is keen to remain true to attend, and attend, and the actual representation of
the promises she made during her the people in the House. It is a lot of
campaign. As a county representative,
the actual work, she says.
I want to sensitise people about the representation of the In the National Assembly, the MP
opportunities in Embu. We have huge people in the House. It sits in the Constitution Implementation
unexploited resources. Leadership Oversight Committee and the Education,
will help unlock these, she notes. The
is a lot of work. Research and Technology Committee.
rampant unemployment among the youth She is married and is the mother of four
worries her and she wants to ensure a grown children who have blessed her
good number of them undergo training with two grandchildren.

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S
he has always had a
dream that she wanted
to turn into reality. As
a courageous young
girl who liked music, it
was during one of her
frequent visits to State
House to entertain Kenyas founding father
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta that Rose Mumo said
to herself: I will work hard and become an
important person in society so that school
children can also sing for me. The glamour,
pomp and colour at such ceremonies must
have fascinated the MPs imagination as
a little girl, and most importantly, her
ambition for national leadership.
The dream came true for Rose,
catapulting her to the position of Womens
Representative for Makueni County in the
11th Parliament. She attended school and
college in Mombasa where she enjoyed
watching her father exercise his authority
as a chief. After college, she returned to her
rural home in Kati, to serve the community.
She worked as a social worker with Action
Aid Kenya for 19 years, interacting with
communities in Kitui, Mutomo, Isiolo,
Wamba, Maralal and the larger Samburu.
ROSE MUSEO
The experience, she says, enabled her to MAKUENI
appreciate blending the diverse and unique
cultures that proudly make Kenya.
Her ability to positively transform lives perspective. I experienced first hand the because of failing systems? Roses soul-
of the people in the various communities suffering of those people. Children were searching marked a turning point in her
motivated Rose to pursue short professional dying due to the harsh living conditions life. Her involvement with the community,
courses to improve her skills. She took a and the families did not have food, water especially women and the youth, saw
course to understand better the laws and and shelter. The situation was disturbing, her vie for the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake
rights that most Kenyans, especially in the she says. Organization chairpersons seat in Mokena.
rural and marginalised areas are oblivious In her quest to help the evicted She got overwhelming support, with some
to. At one point during her work, she families, she asked herself: What can I do members urging her to vie for the national
encountered families that had been evicted to be the voice of the people? How can seats. Rose concentrated on community
from their homes. This changed Roses I be of help to innocent people suffering building. I interacted with the community

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so much that we became one big family. I was feeling incapacitated because of my leg
sacrificed a lot of my time and resources but they quickly intervened and said I did
to improve the lives of the people I was not have to campaign, as they would elect
I knew my track
serving. After some years of service, I was me. All they needed was for me to accept to record spoke
appointed the director of the Children and vie for the seat, she adds. Rose attributes volumes. I did
Women Department in the Seventh Day her amazing support to her diligence and
Adventist Church in my area, she says. commitment to serving the people.
not focus on the
By 2010, Rose had become a household With the approval of her husband and dirty politics but
name in Ukambani, as her work spoke for daughter, the MP registered with the Wiper instead, pledged to
itself. She was a womens rights advocate Democratic Movement Party in December
and her paralegal knowledge helped her 2012, and was overwhelmingly elected
work with Makueni
deal with issues of gender-based violence. during the nomination. My political rivals people to strengthen family
She worked with the community and however capitalised on my misfortune to values.
the administration to seek justice for the campaign against me. Some of them had
oppressed, till a misfortune struck in a lot of money but that did not intimidate
2007. Rose was involved in a tragic road her. I only spent around Ksh2 million to for himself or herself, and God for us all!
accident that left her with a broken leg. traverse the county and sell my agenda laughs Rose. At first, I thought MPs were
After the experience, she had to learn how while some of my opponents spent almost noisemakers. But I later learnt that was
to walk using a crutch and even though Sh30 million to lure the voters to elect the only way to put across your point. I
she was physically injured, Roses spirit them, says Rose. I knew my track record appreciate the good brains representing the
and lively nature overshadowed her bad spoke volumes. I did not focus on the electorate in Parliament, she adds.
experience. Today, I thank God because dirty politics but instead, pledged to work The legislator is a member of the Labour
all through the experience, He gave me with Makueni people to strengthen family and Social Welfare Committee as well as
the strength to continue serving the people values, she adds. Rose also pledged to the Catering and Health Club Committee.
and we achieved a lot as a team, despite continue empowering women, helping Married for 30 years and a proud mother of
the setback, she says enthusiastically. In to create wealth, promoting agriculture one, Rose is grateful for the candidness and
2011, I was preparing to travel to India for through irrigation and livestock keeping. unwavering support her family has accorded
an operation on the injured leg and as is She is confident that at the end of her her. She thanks God for them because they
the local tradition, family, friends and the term in Parliament, when evaluated on have stood by her throughout and have
community gathered to pray for my quick her achievements, she will have performed shared joyous moments and victories with
recovery. There were over 600 people at well. I know that I will do it through Gods her. The MP adds that her role models are
my home and it was during the occasion will, she says. former Kibwezi MP, Agnes Ndetei and Lands
that they requested me to be their County Hon Rose Mumo regards Parliament as a Cabinet Secretary, Charity Ngilu, for their
Women Representative, says Rose. whole new experience that she is enjoying. boldness, outspoken and receptive nature.
The request came as a surprise and From my background working with an Hon Nyiva Mwendwa, whose dedication to
she needed some time to consult her NGO, the conditions in which I performed changing womens lives has borne fruits in
husband, daughter and above all, seek my tasks were organised, with a common the region, is also her hero. The MP, who
Gods intervention. Having worked with goal. In church where I have served for believes in womens potential says that
the community, she did not take their many years, we work towards a common women are a power-house, adding: They
request lightly even though she felt it was goal and the reference book is the Bible. only need to be provoked to release their
unexpected. My hesitation sold me out. I But in Parliament, it is every man or woman potential.

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children where honesty, respect and self-


esteem were treasured values that shaped
her life. My father was a businessman
who stood for economic empowerment
of women. This made him an opinion
leader who influenced local political
leadership, she recalls.
The other influence on Hon
Nyamungas leadership abilities were the
responsibilities her parents laid upon her
shoulders. I came to appreciate much
later when I understood why I was being
given the responsibilities. I believe my
parents had seen that I could take on
multiple task and still be thorough in
everything that I did, I never liked short-
cuts, she explains. She also served in
various leadership positions at primary
school, and was a head girl at Ngiya
Girls High School.
Before joining politics, Rose was
in business. She had previously been
formally employed for six years. I am a

ROSE NYAMUNGA
hands-on person and I was not getting
enough challenge in an office job, so
I decided to engage in business, she
expounds. The graduate of Commerce
KISUMU (Accounting and Finance), as well as a
degree in Law (LLB) from the University of
Nairobi, also has a CPA (K), and an MBA

H
in Finance and Strategic Planning. She
on Rose Ogendo- the 1990s from family discussions and is currently pursuing a masters degree
Nyamunga was knew where her fate was. I followed at the International School of Leadership.
interested in political activists like James Orengo and A micro-finance, business and economic
politics as early as Paul Muite, as I had an interest in peoples empowerment consultant, she also has
1992, while a high rights and justice. Proper treatment of businesses in the hotel industry, real
school student at all people and poverty eradication were estate, rice growing and milling, general
Ngiya Girls High close to my heart, she shares. trading, owns a school in Nairobi, and
School. The niece of the late Robert Ouko, Rose was born and raised in Ahero, has business interests in Juba, South
Rose followed political developments of in a monogamous Christian family of 12 Sudan.

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Married to Eng Eric Opon Nyamunga, a community SACCO for affordable


former Nyando MP, Rose was actively access to credit in partnership with Kenya
involved in her husbands campaigns and Commercial Bank. I feel sad when 70 per
gained experience in developing a solid cent of the food is outsourced from other
manifesto and campaign structure. She counties. If we improved our livelihoods
received overwhelming support because then we would be able to generate wealth
of her track record of good performance.
You must have and eradicate extreme poverty, she
If people have seen that you can manage a manifesto notes. She has helped womens groups in
your home and you have proven to be a that people the county to set up hatcheries for poultry
performer, it becomes easy to sell your farming, and is laying ground for dairy
manifesto to them, states the proud
can relate farming. She has also initiated training
mother of five children. I believe that with in your on drip irrigation for horticulture along
the family is an important place to gauge personal life, major rivers in the county.
ones leadership abilities. An ODM In retrospect, Rose feels that
delegate, Hon Nyamunga chooses to
dreams and induction on Parliamentary procedures
concentrate on her work and deliver to the achievements; and set should be more rigorous. Apart from
people of Kisumu County, as opposed to a personal example of the formal orientation, she had to read a
wider party activities, to avoid spreading lot to familiarise herself with the House
her political engagements too thin. She is
success. procedures. An active member of the
yet to decide on her next political move. Finance Committee, and the East Africa
Campaigns for the Kisumu County Committee, Hon Nyamunga plans to
seat were peaceful and uneventful, she table Bills in Parliament before her first
says, and acknowledges the support five years in the House elapse.
she received from AMWIK, FIDA and empowerment for the youth and women, We have a political caucus in Kisumu
other women NGOs that held forums to adult education for women, mentorship that is meant to mentor women for the next
prepare women aspirants for the election. for girls and sports opportunities in the election. We are working with KEWOPA to
However, she wishes that the trainings county. For a first timer in politics, I provide capacity building to members of
were a continuous process instead of have made good progress in laying the the caucus, says the MP who believes in
concentrating around the campaign structures, as I await allocated funds to political mentorship. It is no longer wise
period when the aspirants are busy on roll out my programmes, she confides. to rely on a husband to provide for all
the campaign trail. My campaign was Rose advises women aspiring for the family needs, you should be a partner
fairly good and since it was a womens political leadership to prepare their and not a dependant, she cautions. I am
race, there was no violence. I traversed strategy thoroughly and plan for the working with various people to empower
the county sensitising the people on necessary resources for mobilising women and the youth in my county. I
my manifesto, she explains. She won support. You must have a manifesto that also mentor young children in Sunday
the race by over 96 per cent votes. The people can relate with in your personal school and have identified some of them
voters have shown great confidence in my life, dreams and achievements; and set for political leadership, because I believe
leadership, and this keeps me on my toes a personal example of success, she it is a step by step process.
to deliver on my promises to them. In emphasises.
her manifesto, Rose promised economic Since her election, Rose has established

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an impediment to progress in todays


society. I was fortunate to go to school
although I grew up in a rural background.
My exposure to education inspired me to
work hard and make a lasting difference
in my community. With education I saw
opportunities and open doors, she says.
Her mother did not have the privilege to
go to school and her father was the only
one, out of 15 siblings, who had gone to
school. He later became a teacher before
joining politics and becoming an MP.
My parents always pushed me to go to
school and excel. I did not disappoint
them and went ahead to graduate in law
from the University of Nairobi in 2002. A
year later, I qualified to be an advocate of
the High Court of Kenya, says the MP.
In June 2010 she received her Masters
of Law (LLM) in International Sustainable
Development from the University of
Washington, USA. She has worked in
different capacities for various government
and civil society organisations, including

ROSELINDA SOIPAN the United States Agency for International


Development (USAID), Kituo cha Sheria
and the former Ministry of Justice and
NAROK Constitutional Affairs, as a United Nations
Volunteer Specialist.

T
Roselinda has always had an interest
in politics. I wanted to join politics many
hey say that the apple hard work, resilience and diligence, the years ago but I needed some time to
does not fall far from married mother of one is the womens prepare for it. I previously worked closely
the tree, and Roselinda representative for Narok County. I with people at grassroots level and therefore
Soipans story asserts have been privileged and have had joining politics came naturally, she
that. The daughter of opportunities that are not easily accessible discloses. Vying for a parliamentary seat
former Narok South to women in my Maasai community, she was going to give her a platform to do more
MP, Samson Ole Tuya, says. for women. When I finally decided to join
Roselindas determination has led her Roselinda grew up in an environment politics I did not have anyone to guide me,
to the success she is today. Through that was marginalised, where culture was it was an impromptu decision like jumping

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at the deep end of a swimming pool, she with a landslide, thanks to the support of MPs, and the journey of achieving the
explains. The MP decided to vie for a seat the people of Narok, especially the youth two-third gender rule in Kenya is still on
two months to the 2013 election. I did not who came out in large numbers, she says course.
receive training or support from the NGOs with appreciation. The parliamentarian believes that in
that were empowering women candidates, Hon Roselinda Soipan is very active the run up to the next election, civic
she states. and lively in Parliament. She chairs the education will be needed to let all Kenyans
Vying on her party of choice, the Parliamentary Implementation Committee, know and understand the role of women
URP, was a given because of its agenda which is tasked with ensuring that the leaders in Parliament under the new
and popularity in the region. The MPs executive implements the Bills that are Constitution. Many women candidates
first hurdle was the nomination process, passed in Parliament. Roselinda says that lost out on senatorial and gubernatorial
which she describes as very competitive. key among the Motions she will present seats because of perceptions that
Before the nominations, some of my in Parliament is one on enhancing dispute women could only be elected as women
opponents spread malicious rumours that resolution mechanisms. Throughout the representatives. We should recognise that
I had pulled out of the race. I had to country, most land and family disputes while we are not where we used to be, we
hurriedly convene a press conference and are resolved locally. We need a legal are still not where we should be. We have
give numerous interviews refuting those framework that can guide such noble a long way to go as women, she asserts.
claims, she says. She was not married at efforts, she explains. These mechanisms
the time of the campaigns, causing her must conform to written laws, keeping in
opponents to subject her to ridicule, that mind that most cultural practices in Kenya
I was not ready to be a leader because I are not gender sensitive. She is working
was inexperienced in family matters, she very closely with KEWOPA in drafting Many women
relates. They down played her ambitions, the Motion, and lauds the association
referring to her as a small girl with no for empowering women MPs. They
candidates
sense of direction. I didnt experience have facilitated meetings and workshops lost out on
any form of physical violence but I faced to train MPs on how they can make senatorial and
horrid verbal abuse, she says, adding, contributions on the floor of the House in
Surprisingly the abuse mostly came from a meaningful way, she comments.
gubernatorial
women. In the midst of the challenges, Acknowledging that Kenya has come seats because
Roselinda chose not to focus on the a long way in realising affirmative action, of perceptions
propaganda but resolved to clinch the Roselinda says that while the country has
seat. more women MPs than before, there are
that women could only
Like other political aspirants there unhealthy supremacy battles from various be elected as women
was a lot of pressure on her to dole out sectors eating away at what should be a representatives. We should
money during the campaigns. I became celebration. These battles hinge on the
a target for hand-outs and fundraisings, roles of womens representatives vis a vis
recognise that while we are
yet I did not have enough money. I didnt women MPs representing constituencies. not where we used to be,
relent, she says. Her youthful following It doesnt go well with me because it is we are still not where we
aggressively mobilised people from all imperative that we speak in one voice,
backgrounds and got support across the she laments. We have an important role
should be.
board. When the elections came, I won to play whether as elected or nominated

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nominated entertainment prefect. She


also served as the chairlady of the youth
group at her local church.
A woman of many talents, Sabina
enrolled at the Kenya National Theatre
where she did some acting. Soon after
her debut at the KNT, she was selected
to play the role of Rehema in a popular
Swahili soap opera called Tausi, which
was broadcast on KBC.
Sabina has a Bachelors degree in
Education and a Masters degree in
Communication, both from the University
of Nairobi. She started her communication
work at Kameme FM as an intern, and was
soon promoted to marketing manager. She
also worked with the World Space Africa
Satellite Radio as a business development
manager, before joining KBC as the
Controller of Radio Commercial Services
and Coro FM Breakfast Show presenter,
in 2007.
Working in the mass media gave
Sabina the opportunity to interact with

SABINA CHEGE
people from all walks of life. As a radio
presenter, she spoke into the ears of
thousands, if not millions, of people
and actually got the opportunity to meet
MURANGA some of them. The transition to politics
was therefore not difficult, she says. I

W
addressed developmental and womens
issues on my radio programmes, and
hen the Corporation (KBC) to grab it. The KBCs realised that I could represent the people
opportunity Coro FM Breakfast Show presenter, and at national level and be able to address
to represent AMWIK member, was well known to her their concerns from a higher platform - the
her people constituents, although many knew her Parliament, she says of her motivation to
presented voice long before they ever saw her face. join politics.
i t s e l f , Born in Kinyona Village in Kigumo, Speaking to the people directly
S a b i n a Central Kenya, Sabina consistently made Sabina realise how much could
Chege did not hesitate to resign from a found herself leading her peers. While be achieved through dialogue. I
comfortable job at the Kenya Broadcasting at Mugoiri Girls High School, she was got inspired after attending a peace

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initiative in Maela, Naivasha, organised her out of such tough spots. Most of to help educate needy children. She had
by AMWIK. This was meant to enable them were artistes whose careers she had before the elections helped educate more
the associations members to witness helped grow by playing their music on than 40 students from Muranga. I am
the impact of their work in the lives of her show at Coro FM. determined to help educate children
the Maasai and Kikuyu communities The God-fearing youthful politician from needy families who cannot afford
in the area after the post-election adds: Prayers have been my biggest school fees. I have started a mentorship
violence, through the radio listening support. Without prayers I dont think I programme in primary and high schools
programmes, she recalls. Witnessing would have come this far. I have humbled in the county to mentor young people
the two communities come together and myself before God and have always asked on the importance of working hard and
vow not to attack each other again was Him for guidance. It is not easy to vie for believing in their abilities, she says.
to Sabina, a great accomplishment. It a leadership position if you are a woman. Her first priority being to empower
is so satisfying to make a difference in She has her eyes set on the objectives she women, the youth and people living
peoples lives. Transforming people is my set before entering Parliament. with disability, the legislator says: My
passion, she reflects. In the National Assembly, Hon Sabina agenda for women is to build their
As the County MP for Muranga, Chege was elected the chairperson of capacity in entrepreneurial skills and
Sabina represents women, children and the Education, Science and Technology assist them to access grants and create a
people living with disability from seven Committee. She was a natural choice for platform where they can invest to support
constituencies. She is happy not to be the Joint Committee on Parliamentary their children. She is however saddened
limited to one constituency. It wasnt easy Broadcasting and Library and is also a by the high level of alcoholism among
for Sabina as she started political life and member of the Housekeeping Committee young men in Muranga County, and
the travails that come with politics, like on Liaison. hopes to work with partners aiming to
voters asking for money after campaigns. In Muranga, she continues to use tackle the issue.
Seeking approval from the male elders the Sabina Wanjiru Chege Foundation
was a big challenge. To get support from
the community elders before launching
a campaign strategy is an uphill task.
I stood my ground and went on with I addressed developmental and womens issues on my
campaigns, she says. radio programmes, and realised that I could represent
Apart from the bad-mouthing that
comes with campaigns, she also struggled
the people at national level and be able to address their
with basics, such as financing the concerns from a higher platform - the Parliament.
production of campaign posters, t-shirts,
logistics, as well as paying allowances
to campaigners. Her friends often pulled

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control over CDF for example, I could


not even give out bursaries to deserving
cases, she says. She maintained the
desire to get elected into Parliament and
consequently won the Lamu County MP
seat in the 2013 election.
With valuable experience gained in
the Tenth Parliament, where she also
served as the treasurer of KEWOPA,
Shakila knows just how to spend her
current Parliamentary term. First in her
agenda is to empower women and the
youth through loans from Uwezo Fund.
The county is a bigger constituency
befitting the MP whose vision is to tackle
the low literacy level in Lamu.
Without resources, Shakilas biggest
challenge in the 2007 election was
reaching the people with her message.
Lamu East Constituency is a series of
islands. To move around, she needed
boats but had none, nor money to hire any.
I would walk, sometimes for up to eight
kilometers to the venue of my campaign

SHAKILA ABDALLA meeting, she recalls. If it got dark, and


it was too late to go home, I would get a
place to sleep until the following morning,
LAMU when I did more walking. Her campaign
was characterised by mudslinging, with

W
male candidates trying to discredit her
on claims that a Muslim woman should
hen she becoming the first Muslim woman to seek not become a leader. Religion was being
decided in an elective position. To many people it used as an excuse, but it was all lies.
2007 that had come as a shock. But someone had Islam does not bar women from politics,
she wanted to break through the glass ceiling, she states the MP.
to become says. Although she lost that bid, she Shakila grew up in a poor village in
the MP caught the eye of the ODM-K Party and Faza Island, Lamu, where children often
for Lamu was nominated to the Tenth Parliament. went deep-sea fishing with their parents,
East Constituency, Hon Shakila Abdalla Its difficult being a nominated MP. You in tiny leaking boats. Due to poverty
was making history on the island by are like a snake without poison. Without and ignorance, early marriages and child

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labour were the order of the day, but no


one seemed to bother, Shakila recalls.
With the coming of self rule in 1963,
dreams of a better life for the islanders You could be a very strong candidate in the grassroots
turned into illusions when the new
African government ignored the region, but if your party does not believe in womens ability
she observes. She maintains that Lamu to lead, you wont get its nomination to vie for any
remains desolate, with little to show for position.
50 years of independence. Theres not
even a kilometer of paved road, she adds
sadly.
Shakila studied at Faza Primary School
and Lamu Girls Secondary School before community, and Kenya as a whole, under Hon Kalonzo Musyokas ODM-K and
joining Utalii College for a House Keeping the yoke of oppression. Then Shakila was Railas ODM, she joined Kalonzos side
and Laundry Operations course. A Muslim working at the Leisure Lodge Beach and and became the partys national treasurer.
girl working in the hotel business was a Golf Resort, but split her time between In the 2013 election, the main
first of sorts, and many were surprised her activism and the job. Eventually supporters of the Wiper Democratic
at her decision. Shakila worked for she left employment to devote her time Movement-Kenya MP were the youth.
various hotels until 2003 when she saw to activism. It wasnt an easy decision The older people still harbour stereotypes
an opportunity to serve her community. because it meant that I had to start life about women. Some were saying she
The National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) without a salary. I set up a small business must be crazy and I thought it was
had just dislodged KANU from power to make ends meet, she says. Shakila and just ridiculous, notes Shakila, who is a
and a wave of excitement permeated her team, however, needed recognition member of the Lands Committee.
the country. A group of local elders who and approval by LDP for their activities. The soft-spoken MP believes that the
wanted to introduce multi-party politics So far, they were unknown beyond the biggest challenge for women leaders in
in Lamu approached Shakila to help them little island. An opportunity came when Parliament currently is to increase in
make Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) the then LDP leader, Hon Raila Odinga, number and attain the two-thirds majority
strong in the area. Through the push for visited Lamu to survey development rule. Beyond that, she notes, women still
multiparty democracy, the Lamu people projects. have a long way to go in political elective
had largely remained in KANU. They The 1961 born MP figured that if she leadership. You could be a very strong
seemed blind to the injustices they had played her cards well, she would build her candidate in the grassroots but if your
endured under the party, including being reputation through the years by working party does not believe in womens ability
chained to poverty, says Shakila. for the people of Lamu who she hoped to lead, you wont get its nomination to
The Lamu team initiated a programme would elect her to Parliament in 2007. vie for any position, she says. She is
to create political awareness and conduct The team explained their mission to Raila however glad that women in Parliament
local civic education. Shakila explains and got the blessing of the party. Shakila work as a family, regardless of party
that she also wanted to take part in was later elected the Lamu District LDP affiliations. We support one another and
campaigning for a new constitution. She Chairperson, further preparing herself for lobby for womens issues both inside and
believes that it was due to bad laws that the political battle in 2007. When ODM, outside Parliament, concludes the MP..
successive governments had kept her which evolved from LDP, split between

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H
er gentle ways
and petite stature
camouflage a
vibrant and zealous
woman who is
emphatic about her
plans for the people
of Garissa County, especially the women.
Her desire to serve did not start with the
promulgation of the New Constitution,
though she admits that the Constitution
provided the much needed opportunity to
get involved in the male dominated politics
and convince men to vote for her. After all,
she reasoned, the Womens Representative
seat that she vied for and won was not in
contest with the male reserved seats.
Hon Shukran Gure recalls her desire to
become a nurse while a pupil at Modogashe
Primary School, 26 years ago. This dream
began one day when she saw immaculately
dressed nurses disembark from an airplane
at the Modogashe airstrip, which was
located directly opposite her school. They

SHUKRAN GURE
wore neat white uniforms with caps on
their heads. It was a beautiful sight! And
just then, I knew that I wanted to become
a nurse, she laughs. Now that she is in
Parliament, Shukran confidently draws
parallels between nursing and political
GARISSA
leadership. Both entail caring for and
working to better the lives of people, she
asserts, adding that she has experienced St. Catherin, in Minnesota. She has also the USA. She plans to replicate the services
both. trained in Neurology, Neonatal Intensive for the people of Garissa County.
After secondary education at Care and Mental Health and worked in Inspired by world-renowned leadership
Umusalama Girls and Madogo Secondary prestigious hospitals in the USA, like Mayo motivational speaker, Dr. Stephen Covey,
Schools in Tana River, Shukran won the Clinic, Fairview Hospitals, and Abbort Shukran has managed to sharpen her
United States Diversity Lottery, commonly Northwestern Hospital, before embarking leadership skills. Her interest in politics
referred to as the Green Card, and went on private business. Shukran started the was awakened after participating in the
to study abroad. She attained a Bachelors Metro Care Providers, a home healthcare Obama presidential campaign of 2012.
Degree in Nursing, and another one in agency that took care of the elderly, and I campaigned for Obama from door to
Public Health, from the University of Metro-Area Physical Therapy Clinic, both in door, learning from the campaign teams

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organisational skills. I was keen to identify realize too late that they need identity Secondly, she did not have the finances she
good leadership characteristics and cards, laments Shukran. needed to traverse the expansive county.
qualities, and realised that leadership The other issue that she wants to address When he finally came home, Shukrans
skills could be learned, she offers. is the re-registration of Kenyan Somalis husband supported her through campaigns
Shukrans family returned to Kenya to who falsely acquired refugee status in order and finances. His biggest headache was
do business and to settle their five children to get scholarships for studies abroad. I however getting male supporters and
down at home, and the new Constitution know some of them because we attended a security team to assist me in the door
opened for her the window to make the same schools, although their records to door campaign, and protect me from
her political debut. She was qualified, read refugee status, and they cannot be any form of violence, she laughs. In the
indigenous and able to express herself to registered again as Kenyan Citizens, she end, navigating the county wore me out,
the electorate. The MP says that she felt says with sympathy. She is determined to to an extent, she adds jokingly. Shukran
the urge to assist the women of Garissa explore ways of straightening the records particularly appreciates the efforts of the
improve their living standards, through the to enable the over 150 young men and 25,000 young people who volunteered to
County MPs seat. She describes the state women to constructively contribute to campaign for her physically, and through
of women in Garissa as despicable, and has economic development of their country, social media like Facebook, Twitter,
categorised the countys women into three and enjoy citizen status. WhatsApp and Vibe.
groups: the educated, the middle level who The MP, who vied on a Wiper The 34-year-old legislator says that
are semi-literate, and the illiterate, who Democratic Movement Party ticket, Parliament has been a learning process,
in her view, are the majority. In order to believes it was the best choice she made. and that she is grateful for the role
enhance development, Shukran motivates The party and its coalition, CORD, backed KEWOPA has played in inducting new
the educated women to consciously and her campaign. She had made a decision to female MPs. The MPs have also received
proactively help the others to elevate their join the party before returning to Kenya additional skills in fundraising. The
living standards and that of the entire because she attended the partys town member of the Environment and Natural
community. meetings in the USA in the run up to the Resources Committee, and the Committee
Although she beat five opponents election, and found its agenda attractive. on Budget and Appropriation, advises
to clinch the Garissa seat, Shukran has She says her party leaders regularly visited women aspiring for political office to fight
reached out to them and pledged to and sold the partys plans, manifesto and for their rights. She believes women are
work with them for the wellbeing of the vision to the people in the diaspora. better managers, and is optimistic that
people. Her focus during this tenure in Shukran encountered various challenges women in the 11th Parliament will make
Parliament is to build market stalls for during the campaign. First, she launched positive change for the benefit of Kenyans
the women to trade their merchandise, it when her husband was still in the USA. at large.
look for funds to construct girls boarding
schools, and engage the youth in activities
that will generate wealth. She plans to
table a Motion that will assure security I campaigned for Obama from door to door, learning from
for pastoralist communities. She says that the campaign teams organisational skills. I was keen to
because of their pastoralist nature, many of
the people in Garissa do not have identity
identify good leadership characteristics and qualities, and
cards, and this poses a security problem, realised that leadership skills could be learned.
especially for those over 35 years. They
stay in the bush for so long and only

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B
efore plunging into
politics ahead of
the 2013 general
election, Dr Susan
Kipketer worked as an
administrator at Moi
University. Like most
MPs in the Rift Valley, she contested for
her seat through URP, which was the
dominant party in the region. URP was
the right choice because it was the most
popular. You can be popular as a person
but when you make the wrong choice of
a political vehicle, you pay the price of
your miscalculation, she notes. Being
her first attempt at politics, Susan is glad
she won.
Hon Kepketer attributes her victory
to the confidence the people of Elgeyo
Marakwet County had in her, courtesy
of development programmes she had
initiated in the expansive region.
Her most popular programme is the
Tumdo Ne Leel, which offers girls in
her community an alternative right of
passage to the outlawed FGM. The
programme also supports young girls to
SUSAN CHEBET
access education as opposed to rampant
early marriage, which almost always
MARAKWET
follows FGM. The programmes success
has inspired Susan who plans to export
the concept to neighbouring Pokot and background, which stood out among her gender, she notes. Susan had to hunt for
Baringo Counties, which are also affected opponents in the election. She is thankful votes from the two Kalenjin sub-tribes of
by FGM and early marriage. I want to to her voters for choosing her to be the Keiyo and Marakwet, who are the main
boost education of the girl child wherever leader who would enhance development occupants of Marakwet County. In the
and whenever I can, she declares. in the region, as well as give them the end she drew her support from men,
The soft-spoken mother of three, and right representation at national level. women and the youth across the county -
grandmother of six, knows the benefits Society is now open and there is need voters she cherishes. Every vote counts,
of education from experience. In fact, she for general participation in transforming she says.
attributes her victory to her education the lives of Kenyans irrespective of Born in 1955, the MP grew up in a

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rural setting in Keiyo District where reduce overreliance on forests for wood
social, cultural and traditional practices fuel, she says, adding, My long term
were the order of the day. She attended vision is to empower all residents, and
Chepketeret Primary School from 1967 especially women and the youth, who are
to 1971. Her parents could not afford to the driving force in development of the
pay for her tuition fee and because she Society is now county, Susan pledges.
was gifted in class, the school waived open and there is In the national assembly, the legislator
the fees between class two and seven, sits in the Education, Research and
when she sat her national exam. Susan need for general Technology Committee, which handles
then joined Kapkenda Girls Secondary participation in matters relating to education, training,
School in the same district and graduated transforming the research and technological advancement.
in 1975, an accomplishment that was She says that women MPs have been well
short of a miracle. It was very exciting lives of Kenyans prepared for challenges in the House after
to complete secondary school because irrespective of several inductions, courtesy of KEWOPA.
many times I was sent home for fees, gender. She appreciates that KEWOPA has
and I almost dropped out of school, she especially done a lot towards ensuring
recalls. Inspired by the fact that she was that newly elected women MPs work
among the few girls who had continued together and are familiar with their new
with their education to secondary level, environment. I am happy about the good
members of her community often raised relations with other elected leaders and
funds for her school fees, but she always with time, we are going to make massive
had arrears. a BA degree in Political Science; followed contributions in the House, she states.
One of the reasons she is passionate by a Masters degree in Human Resource On womens leadership, the MP says
about assisting students who lack school Development (Gender) at the University of that although immense resources have
fees is because she benefited from Manchester in the UK, between 1993 and been spent over many years preparing
community benevolence. In the midst 1994. She did her PhD at Moi University women for political leadership, a lot still
of her struggle to remain in school, her between 2001 and 2007, and has also needs to be done to curb the glaring
secondary school head teacher linked her made a name as an author. Retired gender disparity in leadership positions
up with a local charity group, University President, Mwai Kibaki, awarded her the in the country. She is concerned about
Women Association, who helped in Head of State Commendation (HSC) in the yet to be actualised two-thirds gender
paying her school fees. The group was 2010 for her work in the community. provision in Parliament, and hopes that
composed of successful women alumni of Among her top most priorities in the 11th Parliament will develop a formula
the University of Nairobi, who supported Elgeyo Marakwet County is to conserve to make the two-thirds gender provision in
the education of young girls from poor the environment by protecting forests and the Constitution a priority. Susan advises
families. other water catchment areas. The county is women aspiring for political leadership
Susan proceeded to Kipsigis Girls home to several forests and rivulets which to be firm in what they believe in and
High School, through the support of one supplement the Kerio River and onwards persistent about the many odds that often
of her former primary school teachers. to Lake Turkana. We should protect our hinder their climb to political leadership;
She was at the University of Nairobi forests by minimising pressure on them. some of which include lack of finances
between 1978 and 1981, graduating with Farmers should plant more trees and and cultural constraints.

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notes. I did not experience violence but


there was bearable intimidation in some
parts of the county.
Born in a middle class family, Susan
is the third born among four girls and a
boy. Her father, a teacher, was the first
Secretary General of the Africa Inland
Church. He passed on when Susan was
only nine years old. Her mother was a
primary school teacher. I thank God for
my mother who inspired and encouraged
me all along and prepared me to take up
lifes challenges that most women do not
want to venture into, including landing
me in a medical career, she says.
After her fathers death, life became
tough and Susans family had to leave
the comfort and prestige of living in the
city. We relocated to the village where
life was tough and the fine things in life
were hard to come by. I started asking
myself many questions whose answers I
could not get, she recalls.
The changes did not kill her spirit, but

SUSAN MUSYOKA instead inspired her to pursue excellence.


I remember my childhood and know
that were it not for education, I would not
MACHAKOS have made it in life. Also, it was thanks to
the support and encouragement from my

T
role models and mentors like Prof Florence
Musiime who hails from my village, and
he boldness and courage the Wiper Democratic Movement within who spent time with us as we grew up,
of former MPs Charity the CORD Alliance, due to its popularity that life became bearable, she says.
Ngilu, Martha Karua in Machakos. Campaigning was a Dr Musyoka went to Mulango Girls
and Phoebe Asiyo, gave gruelling task - very tough. The area was Secondary School, in Kitui and proceeded
Dr Susan Musyoka, vast and a lot of resources were required. to Nakuru High School for A-Level
the Machakos County I had Gods favour all through and a education. She remembers that though
Women Representative, lot of encouragement and support from Nakuru High was a mixed school, her
the courage to vie for political office. all, especially the youth, who wanted an class of 30 students had only four female
Her party of choice, she says, was educated person to represent them, she students.

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In 1980 Susan joined the University of


Nairobi to pursue a degree in Medicine
and proceeded to study for a Masters
degree in Public Health. I have been I urge women to come out and vie for seats, in
working as a medical doctor in private addition to positioning themselves in businesses
practice in Machakos for more than and property acquisition, in order to compete well
20 years and encountered all manner
of problems seriously affecting the in this competitive world.
community I serve. Most affected by
these issues are women, while the major
contributing factor is poverty and lack of
empowerment, she states. Like other County Women regularly visits schools to counsel girls
Susan has mentored girls, encouraging Representatives, Hon Susan Musyoka while also encouraging women and the
them to take up sciences and work hard hopes the MPs will get a fund to support youth to take up business opportunities
in school. She has also delved into their development agenda. I made in the county.
community health issues among other promises, mainly on the empowerment The legislator praises KEWOPA for
development activities in her town. The of women and the youth, education and helping members to find their bearing in
MP has also been active in the Rotary skills development, and on healthcare Parliament. She says that the training she
movement, through which she has service improvement within the county, attended ahead of the election was quite
initiated water projects and was the she says, and is keen to fulfil these useful during her campaign. More work
president of the Machakos Rotary Club promises. should however be done to encourage
in 2005/2006. She contributed to school Being in the Parliamentary Health women to take up elective positions. I
development programmes and served Committee, and collaborating with the urge women to come out and vie for seats,
as the chairperson of several school health cabinet secretary in the county, I in addition to positioning themselves in
boards, the most recent being that of look forward to engaging more in health businesses and property acquisition, in
the Machakos Technical Institute, now related issues that will impact positively order to compete well in this competitive
Machakos University. in the county, she pledges. The MP world, she advises.

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C
oming from a
humble background,
Tiyah Galgalo
never envisaged
herself representing
her constituents
in Parliament.
The accomplished administrator and
educationist, with over 20 years of
experience, narrates the pain of growing
up in need, in a family that squeezed into
one small room in Isiolo town. Her peasant
parents, as she describes them, relocated to
the town after losing all their livestock to
drought when Tiyah and her siblings were
young. Out of 11 siblings, Tiyah is the only
one who made it to university.
Born in 1966 in Bulesa, Isiolo District,
Tiya experienced suffering that motivated
her to work hard to rescue her family
from poverty. When she was admitted
to Garbatulla High School for secondary
education, the young Borana girl could
not imagine missing the opportunity due
to lack of school fees. She approached the

TIYAH GALGALO
town clerk for a bursary, and got one terms
fees. The then Town clerk, Mr Jaffary Tupi,
pleaded with the head teacher not to send
me home for school fees. When children were
being sent home for outstanding payments, ISIOLO
my name was always first on the list, and I
would hide to avoid being teased by other
students, she recalls with a shy smile. Tiyah left for the day at 2pm, I would head to a bursary, but the then DC, Mr Nyambwa,
detested how the better off students teased Mr Weighmans house to do my chores till encouraged local leaders to help him
those who had fees balances. 6pm, then run home and study late into the educate the bright girl. It is now laughable
When she realised that the threat of night, a radiant Tiyah recalls. that a girl who had never left her home
losing her place in school due to fees When Tiyah excelled in the secondary district could travel to a new district on her
arrears was imminent, Tiyah talked to a Mr school exams and got admitted for high own, to join a new school, she reminisces.
David Weighman, a volunteer teacher at her school education at Njonjo High School in Tiyah was the first girl from Isiolo County to
school, who paid her fees as she assisted Nyandarua County, she faced another school study up to form six. At her new school, she
his wife with house chores. I would reach fees dilemma. The brave girl sought for help rubbed shoulders with children from affluent
school at 6am, and when the other students at the Isiolo DCs office. She did not get families, and often mused at the display of

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luxury during visiting days. She remembers admires for her beneficial work record in the not about seeking votes, but an opportunity
how on her first day in school, one of her community. She attributes Aminas success to showcase what you have done for your
classmates arrived by a helicopter. to her long term working relationship with community. She received red carpet
Tiyah excelled again and joined President Uhuru Kenyatta. Her political role reception from her former students
Kenyatta University for a Bachelors Degree model is Narc Kenya leader, Martha Karua. and parents who had benefited from her
in Education. She graduated in 1991 and Martha is bold, articulate, and assertive, initiatives. She listened to the electorate
was posted to teach in her old school, and is not apologetic for her prowess, rather than making promises because she
Garbatulla High School, which she believes shares the legislator, who attributes her does not believe in empty promises, which
was the best thing that happened to her, as own success to being fearless, confident, is like putting a rope around my neck,
she related well with girls from backgrounds assertive and visionary - traits that Martha she observes.
like hers, and became their role model. She and I have in common. Hon Tiyah Galgalo has not lost focus
took the opportunity to give back to society Tiyah benefitted from training from of her vision to address unique challenges
by supporting the girls. I lived with some the National Democratic Institute, Women like drought and floods that usually ravage
of the poor girls in my house and even in Democracy Network and International Isiolo County. She introduced the Motion to
shared my own bed with them, says the Republican Institute, in the run up to the establish the Disaster Management Authority
former teacher, who has a Masters degree election. She recommends however, that to handle, prepare and create awareness on
in Education Administration and Planning such training be better coordinated to avoid disasters. She is optimistic that the larger
from the University of Nairobi. duplication, and also be conducted earlier in presence of women in the 11th Parliament
It is during her 13 years as the principal the campaign cycle to enable the beneficiaries will benefit the electorate more. There are
of Isiolo Girls High School that the MP to use the knowledge in their campaigns. no party boundaries between women MPs
inadvertently began her political journey. Her own campaigning to capture the when it comes to women and youth issues.
She inspired girls to change their attitude Isiolo County seat was challenging, she We must harness our strength, she advises.
and perception of life. Most girls came discloses. Violence is a given in any The vice chairperson of the Labour and
to school to buy time as they prepared for election, but my biggest challenge was the Social Welfare Committee, Tiyah is also a
marriage, she observed. Tiyah motivated clan, she confides. She explains that the member of the Budget and Appropriation
them to study to the highest level governance structure among pastoralists Committee, as well as the Selection
possible. She worked with the Pastoralists determines who takes which seat in political Committee. The vibrant legislator is also the
Development Network of Kenya, and election. And while Tiyah was favoured by chief whip of KEWOPA and deputy treasurer
started the Foundation for Kenya Pastoralist virtue of belonging to the two major clans of the Pastoralists Parliamentary Group.
Women, to secure sponsorship for vulnerable by marriage and birth, she declared her
children and lobbied universities to admit interest in the County MP seat later than
girls from disadvantaged communities for the other candidates because she was a
prestigious courses. Many young women commissioner in the Interim Independent
There are no party
have since joined universities in Kenya and Electoral Commission. People had already boundaries between
abroad as a result of her effort. been identified for various positions and women MPs when
After combing through almost all the turning this around in nine months left bad
other parties, the MP found TNAs manifesto blood between some family members who it comes to women
and organisational structure attractive, felt betrayed. The healing process is still and youth issues.
implementable, and sensitive to the desires ongoing, she discloses, remorsefully.
of Muslims. Her biggest motivation into Lack of resources, poor infrastructure
We must harness our
joining the party was however nominated and limited time were the other challenges strength.
MP, Hon Amina Abdalla, whom Tiyah in her campaign. She warns: Campaign is

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W
anjiku Muhia
was born into a
humble family
in Nyandarua
County, where
her parents
made a living
as peasant farmers. Her father inspired her to
join politics by often telling her that a nation
could only develop if it had genuine political
leaders who would carry the vision of the
people. He was a successful kingmaker
in Nyandarua. Some of the candidates he
campaigned for included the charismatic
Nyandarua North MP, the late JM Kariuki.
Wanjiku enjoyed political discussions
as a young girl and was an active member
of the debating clubs in her primary and
high schools. She attended Kamahia Primary
School in Kipipiri Constituency, and Nakuru
High School. After completing secondary
education, Wanjiku opened a vegetable shop
in Nairobis Eastleigh Estate through the
help of her sister. One year later, with the
money she had saved, she joined the Rift
Valley Institute of Science and Technology
(RVIST) for a business certificate course.
WANJIKU MUHIA
On completing the course, she secured
jobs at several flower firms in Naivasha. NYANDARUA
Over time she was promoted to the rank of
Human Resources Manager. She is credited
with bringing several social changes to the seat, and her choice of political party was manifesto, which had to be at par with her
flower industry, among them the creation of very important. She says: Party choice is vision for Nyandarua County. She believes
a day care centre for breastfeeding mothers, a sensitive driver in ones political career. that her party is people-driven, youthful,
a SACCO, and medical and insurance care One can be a great leader but easily lose in dynamic, vibrant and ambitious. After
for the workers. an election because of being in the wrong winning the TNA nomination, Wanjiku set up
From the flower industry, Wanjiku joined party. Party popularity influenced her a campaign team, which comprised women,
Equity Bank, and resigned six years later to decision to join TNA. men, the youth and people with disability.
join politics. She had set her eyes on the The other consideration that was The MP is committed to fulfilling her
Nyandarua County Women Representative paramount in her decision was the partys promise to empower the youth and women

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with entrepreneurship skills. A vocal is to improve lives and livelihoods of the


advocate of self-employment and the need to electorate. The public expects that after the
foster the culture of saving among the people election, and the MP becomes a mheshimiwa
for their own development, she has set up (honourable person), things should start
county offices in all constituencies where moving immediately. However, this is not the
the people she represents can benefit from case because the MPs first need to familiarise
entrepreneurial activities. She also plans to themselves with the system, she says.
put up centres for persons with special needs Representation by women in the National The public
within Nyandarua. Assembly and the Senate is higher in the expects that after
Additionally, the legislator has identified 11th Parliament compared to the past.
areas to improve in the Persons with Disability The MP believes that there would be more
the election, and
Bill of 2003. Her notable amendment to the benefits if these women in leadership were the MP becomes
Bill was the inclusion of a requirement that all allocated funds for county and constituency a mheshimiwa
television stations include sign language and development. The women MPs, particularly
subtitles in their news so that deaf persons the 47 county MPs, should be adequately
(honourable
can have improved access to information, funded to engage in tangible projects that the person), things
according to the Bill of Rights. society can see and relate to their leadership. should start moving
Wanjiku wants improvement in the Otherwise if they become microphone
quality of education given to young children. leaders who are vocal but will have nothing
immediately. However, this
She hopes to set up nursery schools in every to show for their leadership after five years, is not the case because the
village; her objective being to reduce the the public will judge them harshly and may MPs first need to f amiliarise
distance young children cover to attend not re-elect them, notes the legislator.
school. She has also been actively involved Her advice to women political aspirants is
themselves with the system.
in the establishment of the Affirmative Action to believe in themselves and their respective
Social Development Fund, which aims to visions. They should adequately prepare
allocate funds to county MPs. This fund will and start their campaigns early and not
enable the county MPs who do not have any be intimidated. Women can make the best
funding structure to initiate development leaders when given a chance. All they need
activities. is support and encouragement, she states.
Hon Wanjiku Muhia serves in the The MP has a Bachelors degree in
Committee on Regional Integration, and Business Administration in Entrepreneurship,
the Administration and National Security from the Kenya Methodist University. She
Committee. She appeals to the public to hopes to complete a Masters degree by 2017.
be patient with MPs, whose main mandate

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of availing the commodity to their families. Unbelievably, the water crisis goaded her
to seek solutions beyond Mwea, and she
approached a Swedish non-governmental
organization for assistance. Winnie
mobilised 100 women to register a self-
help group through which they applied
for a grant from the Swedish NGO to
install piped water into their homes. The
water project enhanced the lifestyle of the
people of Murinduko Location in Mwea
and brought the commodity into schools,
hospitals as well as other institutions.
Because of her success with the water
project, among others, Lucy observes
that her entry into politics was actually
proposed by the people. The residents
felt that I had the potential to do more
than I had already done for them, she
points out. The push to vie came from
the staff of schools where she had
initiated the water project, as well as from
students whom she had assisted to pursue
education. I had a rich background
in community service when I got into

WINNIE NJUGUNA politics, Winnie smiles.


It was not a wonder that the MP
trounced her seven opponents with a
KIRINYAGA big margin. She garnered 164,000 votes
against the runner up who got 40,000

K
votes. My votes were even more than the
governors, she says excitedly. Winnie
i r i n y a g a development, Winnie believes Parliament says that she is inspired by respected
County Women is one of the best platforms to implement politician and NARC-Kenya leader, Hon
Representative, Winne her dream for womens growth. To her, Martha Karua. Coincidentally, they both
Njuguna, lives by a women are the foundation of the family hail from Kirinyaga County.
simple philosophy: and the community. The staunch Christian credits God for
she gives her best Flashing back to 1992 when the Mwea all her achievements. She says: Trust in
in everything she area had a major water shortage, Winnie God, for He is the truth, and the truth
undertakes. With an undying passion says that this meant that women faced the shall set you free. With this assurance,
for working with women to achieve their biggest test of dealing with the challenge she believes that her big plans for the

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people of Mwea will be accomplished. all women aspiring for political office to
To date, Mwea has a large amount of brace for the same.
canal water for irrigation, but lacks clean Winnie intends to keep promoting
piped water, something Winnie hopes to the rights of farmers by bringing a
solve within her term in Parliament. She parliamentary Motion that will enable
plans to extend her development efforts easier access to land by citizens. She
to include the improvement of roads and acknowledges the need to be proactive
increase the number of secondary schools since the number of legislators in the
in the area. Mwea has 108 primary National Assembly has increased almost Her 20-year career
schools and only 17 secondary schools; threefold, and as such, one has to be very as a teacher taught
the disparity is stifling the advancement strategic to catch the speakers eye to her to tackle all
of education and forcing children to drop make a contribution during debate.
out of school and marry at a tender age, The MP credits KEWOPA for situations that
she observes. playing the key role of uniting women come her way head
Hon Winnie Njuguna studied at parliamentarians, even as she still on. She believes
Kirinyaga Primary School and Kabare believes that the Association needs to do
Secondary School before joining Kagumo more. She specifically points out that the in hard work and
Teachers Training College for a Diploma more experienced MPs who have served urges all women aspiring for
in Education. She was later promoted to a in the past Parliaments should help new political office to brace for
graduate approved teacher, which saw her members to gain the required skills in
shift to train teachers at Kigali Teachers order to participate fully in Parliament. the same.
Training College. She is pursuing a In the National Assembly, the legislator
degree in Leadership and Management sits in the Labour and Social Welfare
at the St. Pauls University. Her 20-year Committee. She is also a member of the
career as a teacher taught her to tackle Standing Committee on Implementation,
all situations that come her way head whose mandate is to scrutinise resolutions
on. She believes in hard work and urges of the House.

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Although she is not new to leadership in


Kwale, Zainab is humbled by her election
into the 11th Parliament, and thanks all the
people who voted for her. She has been a
member of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake
Organisation (MYWO) for more than two
decades and was the provincial treasurer
in the Coast, before scaling down to the
district level. She chose this position
at the district level to get closer to the
people she served. After a brief stint as the
treasurer for the district, she got elected
the chairperson of MYWO, Kwale District.
She was also a director of the board of
Coast Water Services Board, and the Kwale
Health Management Board.
Even with her inborn leadership
qualities, Zainab needed political
leadership knowledge, and MYWO gave
this to her. Being in the leadership of
the organization helped to nurture and
prepare me for political leadership, she
says. The late Margaret Thatcher, Britains
first female Prime Minister, whose legacy
lives on, is one of the people who inspired

ZAINAB CHIDZUGA her to get into politics. The other political


inspiration is Hillary Clinton, the former
US Foreign Secretary in President Barack
KWALE Obamas government, and wife of former
US President, Bill Clinton. Zainab is also

Z
inspired by President Sirleaf Johnson of
Liberia, Africas first female president. I
ainab Chidzugas Her leadership potential started to show look up to these female politicians in my
journey to leadership as soon as she stepped into school. While journey in political leadership, she says.
began when she was in a primary school in Uganda, she was With such powerful role models, one
born. As the first born a class prefect. She later joined Mwija wonders what drove Zainab into elective
in my family, my parents Primary School and Mutomo Girls High politics. For a very long time, I have
gave me a challenges School, where she held different leadership watched as women, the youth, and the
and responsibilities, positions. The trained secretary also had a general community that I come from,
which I had to handle well. I believe brief stint as a primary school teacher, a struggle to put food on the table. I have
they prepared me for leadership, and the role that further enhanced her leadership told myself several times that maybe
reason I am where I am today, she says. skills. I could help ease their struggles and

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challenges if I were their representative needs improvement is the representation of


in higher political office, she reveals women in the various political offices. A
simply. I also realised that our county lot of work needs to be done to help women
has a lot of resources, especially water, We are here as get into leadership, she stresses. While the
from which our people are not benefitting representatives of MP acknowledges that a lot of resources
as they should. I wanted to help change have been invested in womens leadership,
that, she adds. the people. They the results are not yet adequate. Training,
Zainab says that when she embarked are our employers she believes, is still needed to enhance the
on her campaigns, she made promises,
one of which was to create an environment
and so our effort womens understanding of what they need
to get into. I am grateful for the training
that would allow the youth to employ should be directed that I got through seminars and workshops
themselves. So far, she has helped them to towards the that were organised by my networks. I
register their companies in order to benefit went into the election feeling confident
from projects that are being undertaken
development and growth
and well equipped after the training, plus
at constituency and county level. She they desire. the networking opportunities I got through
believes the youth are better placed to various organizations, she says. Apart from
tender for goods and services that county such trainings, Zainab challenges women
governments and other state corporations to participate in civic education whenever
and parastatals need. Before her election, historical injustices relating to land and the opportunities arise. Civic education is
Zainab had initiated the Kwale County the distribution of resources. very helpful to anyone in politics. If access
Women in Development Organisation Hon Zainab Chidzuga is a member of is limited, just go out and initiate them!
that offers micro finance to women to the Committee on Delegated Legislation, she challenges. She urges women to be
undertake various projects to uplift their and the Environment and Natural brave and to demonstrate their leadership
livelihoods. This organisation has helped Resources Committee. She has been active skills to the people, as a way of winning
women to provide for their families with inside and outside the National Assembly, the confidence of their potential voters.
less hardship. contributing to House Motions, and The current vice chairperson of
Even though the seat for County MPs continuing with her farming activities and KEWOPA, the legislator believes that the
was reserved for women, many cultural running her businesses. She continues to organization is well placed to assist women
beliefs regarding women in leadership supervise the development projects she in the National Assembly and the Senate
still made it difficult for some women to initiated in her constituency with a view to perform better at their work. She has
vie. It was even harder for Zainab who to expanding them to reach more people been on record promising to work with
is a widow. I had little money and had and enhance their sustainability. She is all the leaders in Kwale for the benefit of
to fight cultural biases against widows. however unhappy that some MPs have the people of the county. Kwale County
Thankfully, people who understood my dedicated their time and attention to the has approximately 600,000 residents,
background and my active involvement politics of their different parties at the and is quite poor, despite being rich in
in the development of the community expense of the electorate who gave them natural resources and playing host to
voted for me. They elected me, she says. the mandate to be in Parliament. We are tourist attractions such as the Shimba Hills
Even in the midst of the challenges, and here as representatives of the people. They National Reserve and the Mwaluganje
minimum verbal abuse, the development are our employers and so our effort should Elephant Sanctuary. What matters now,
conscious MP did not face any violence, be directed towards the development and is that the people who elected me have
and is grateful for that. She chose ODM, a growth they desire, she says. given me their support and we are moving
party she believes will help her to resolve The other area that Zainab feels still forward together, she affirms.

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H
er service to her
community has
seen Zipporah
Kering rise from
the classroom
to political
leadership. During
her career as a teacher, she interacted with
the community and contributed towards
development, and advocated for the rights
of all people in the society. In turn, the
community overwhelmingly voted for her
in the 2013 general election as the first
Nandi County Women Representative.
Zipporah ventured into leadership
when she first sought to be elected as
a women representative in KNUT, a
position she won with ease. She later
rose in the unions ranks to become
the Nandi Central Branch executive
secretary and Nandi County chairperson
for the union. As an official of KNUT,
I also got involved in womens activities
and participated in income generating

ZIPPORAH KERING
activities that empowered residents at the
grassroots, she says.
During her tenure as the Nandi
Central executive secretary, she was one
of the only three women in Kenya holding
NANDI
such positions, out of the 210 positions.
It is then that I realised the potential of
women leadership, notes Zipporah. This She drew most of her support from Born in 1966 in Aldai Constituency,
opportunity honed her leadership skills women and the youth, some of who were Zipporah attended Kamarich Primary
and gave her the courage to plunge into her former students. My fellow teachers School and later Kapsabet Girls High
politics. I conducted my parliamentary were supportive, especially given the fact School in Nandi. She was employed as a
campaign with a lot of ease because that I was their union official and now I casual worker at the National Cereals and
as a teacher and union official, I had was seeking a higher position that would Produce Board soon after high school
addressed several education forums, benefit them. As a County MP, my role and later as an untrained teacher at Itigo
church functions in the larger Nandi is to legislate and represent. I will not Primary School before joining Highridge
County and I was quite well-known in the only represent women and teachers, but Teachers Training College in 1989 for a
county, says the former teacher. everyone in the county, she states. two-year teaching course. While teaching

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at Kamobo Primary School, which she she will ensure residents are given the other organizations interested in womens
joined after graduation, the MP enrolled necessary opportunities to exploit their empowerment, she observes.
for a diploma course at the Kenya natural wealth for their own economic Hon Zipporah Kering sits in the
Institute of Special Education (KISE). advancement. House Committee on Health. She advises
Thereafter she taught at Kapsabet School Like other newly elected women MPs women aspiring for political leadership
for the Deaf. in the House, Zipporah has benefitted to come out forcefully and campaign
The legislator says that she did not from induction courses organized by for the various positions in the political
spend much money in her campaign. KEWOPA. The training we received has arena. There is nothing that cannot be
I did not have the amount of money assisted us to compete on equal footing achieved if one has the will and drive
associated with campaigns. I received with our male counterparts in the National to go for what her heart desires. Politics
support and goodwill from friends, family Assembly. More training opportunities is no different and fellow women leaders
and well wishers, she says. Her vision should be provided by KEWOPA and should be ready to join the race in future
for Nandi County is to empower women electoral contests, she emphasises.
and the youth to raise their standard The MP is married and a mother of
of living through income generating five children. She learnt how to balance
activities. Poverty in our society mostly There is nothing her personal and public life when she
affects young school leavers who are was a teacher and unionist. I hope I
unemployed, and women who have that cannot be will equally manage to do the same as a
limited avenues to income generating achieved if one politician because there is little difference
activities, she points out. has the will and between unionism and politics, she says.
County women representatives do not Despite the tight schedule that comes
manage any development funds, thus drive to go for with political engagement within the
limiting their influence in the development what her heart county and in Nairobi, she always finds
of the counties. As county women MPs, desires. Politics is time to be with her family.
we are trying to push for a Bill that will She holds a Bachelor of Education
streamline the Womens Trust Fund to no different and fellow Degree from Kenyatta University. Outside
enable women across the country access women leaders should be the teaching profession, she has also
it with ease, she says. Nandi County has ready to join the race in trained at International Amateur Athletic
enormous potential for economic growth. Federation (IAAF) as a level two coach.
Among the leading income generating future electoral contests. She chaperoned Kenyas athletics teams
activities in the county are tea, dairy and to world championships in Canada, Italy
maize farming. The legislator says that and Japan, between 2005 and 2009.

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86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

generating skills like entrepreneurship.


Alice had learnt from previous attempts
that a strong campaign was the key to
winning an election, and she put in
as much effort as she could in hers.
Contesting on a TNA Party ticket, she
was confident of a win. TNA Partys
manifesto was great. It was development
conscious, especially on matters affecting
women and the youth, Alice who was the
partys national aspirants coordinator,
says.
Leadership is a dream Alice has
nurtured since childhood. She had
great admiration for her teachers who
were diligent in imparting knowledge,
inspiring and challenging learners to
work hard to become successful and
positively influence in the society. She
was a disciplined student who excelled
in academics, as well as leadership. She
was the school head girl, something
that boosted her morale to become an
influential leader in the future. That aside,

ALICE NGANGA Alice looks up to her father as a source


of inspiration. He has always encouraged
her to aim high, assuring her that with
THIKA TOWN focus, she could achieve whatever she set
her mind on. This is perhaps what makes

S
me tenacious, she laughs.
Prior to joining politics, Alice
he is a tenacious leader. Alice Nganga declared her candidature worked as the director of a mining
She had vied for the Juja for the Parliamentary seat. She started to company, a Sunday school teacher,
Parliamentary seat many campaign in her home constituency early. and a womens leader at her church.
times before and not won, I did not want to miss out on my dream Working with different people in these
but never gave up. She again, so I strategised to start early, she positions sharpened her leadership skills.
does not easily give up on says. Unsurprisingly, Alice experienced verbal
her dreams. When IEBC The MP embarked on empowering abuse from her opponents supporters
created Thika Town Constituency out women through self-help groups, and during campaigns. Her campaign posters
of the formerly large Juja Constituency, by training them on various income were pulled down, and leaflets containing

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propaganda about her were dropped


everywhere, including her supporters
doorsteps. Such acts demoralised her
but she soldiered on. On the other hand,
a majority of women, young voters and
some men gave her undying support,
something that gave her a deep sense of Women should stand to be counted
appreciation. With over 72, 000 votes, and they stay focused, consistent and
Alice became the first MP for the new never giving up.
Thika Town Constituency. My campaign
team was just great, she confirms.
One of the greatest challenges for
women political aspirants over time
has been financial support, and Alice
is grateful to her family and friends for
pouring in their money into her political
dream. It was not just money, for they
were always at hand to encourage me politics because they do not know how committed to addressing the rampant
especially when things would become too to go about it. Everything appears drug and alcohol abuse in Thika Town
difficult for me during the campaigns, overwhelming, and so they just shy Constituency, and solving the problems
she says with lots of appreciation. Alice away, she says. The low representation of of IDPs who are still looking for
also thanks the Centre for Rights Education women in Kenyas Houses concerns her a resettlement. She is currently finalising
and Awareness (CREAW) and the Centre great deal. The Inter-Parliamentary Union plans to resettle the displaced people
for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) for (IPU) and United Nations Development in Kilimambogo. Alice is confident
facilitating the printing of her campaign Programme (UNDP) report that women that she will competently represent her
posters and t-shirts. The publicity she got constitute only 19.25 % of all members constituency in the National Assembly as
through local newspapers that profiled of parliament in the world. With the well as implement her manifesto, to the
her was also of great assistance on her increased numbers in Kenya, we are still satisfaction of her supporters.
journey to victory. a minority, Alice says, and urges women The optimistic legislator feels that
Alice acknowledges that not all to come out in large numbers to vie for she was well inducted in Parliament, and
women aspirants are as fortunate as she political positions in the next election. particularly on Parliamentary procedures.
was in her political journey. For instance, Women should stand to be counted and She has adapted well and looks forward
organisations that supported her materially they should stay focused, consistent and to being one of the people contributing to
and with publicity dont always reach all never giving up, she says. a vibrant 11th Parliament. She hopes the
women, especially those that need them Improving the quality of primary and current leaders will debate and pass Bills
most. They should create more awareness secondary education and working more that will contribute to the growth and
so that more women can know where with women and the youth to set up development of Kenya. She is a member
to seek help during campaigns, she development projects that will improve of the Lands Committee, as well as the
challenges. Alice adds that marginalised their livelihoods, are some of Alices Environment and Natural Resources
women do not venture into competitive plans for her constituents. She is also Committee.

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W
hen Hon
Alice Muthoni
Wahome was a
young girl, she
nurtured big
dreams for her
future. She did
not want to become an ordinary woman in
the village, so she motivated herself to work
hard in school. The MP for Kandara was
born in 1959 in Muruka Location, Kandara
Division in Muranga County, and brought
up in a closely knit polygamous family. Her
parents worked hard to ensure that she and
her siblings did not lack school fees. Alice
attended Karumu Primary, Siakago Girls
Secondary and Ngandu Girls High Schools.
She later studied Law at the University of
Nairobi from where she graduated in 1984.
Alice worked for two years as a state
counsel in the office of the Attorney General,
in the civil litigation department. She
thereafter started her law firm and got actively
involved with womens organisations. She is

ALICE WAHOME
a founder member of FIDA-Kenya and was
also a council member of the Law Society of
Kenya (LSK). She got inspired to join politics
in 1992, after attending a rally organised
by the FORD Party. However, she felt that KANDARA
her children were too young and they still
needed her care, and reserved the attempt
for a later date. Safina Party. Alice came third in that years was different from the party of the peoples
In May 2002, Alice vied in her elections. This encouraged and motivated preferred presidential candidate, she made
constituency of birth, Kandara, and not Tetu her to improve on the shortcomings and an attempt at the PNU nominations, but
Constituency in Nyeri, where her husband prepare for the next elections. missed the ticket. The officials used
comes from. She felt that she had more to Between 2002 and 2007 Hon Wahome delaying tactics to favour the incumbent and
offer in Kandara because she knew and worked with self-help groups, initiating discourage other aspirants, she recalls. She
understood the needs of the community projects to empower the community. She filed a complaint at the party headquarters
better. She came second in the Democratic started her campaign early. Having learnt and was awarded the PNU ticket. Her
Party (DP) nominations and defected to that it was not wise to vie through a party that opponent allegedly hired criminals who

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physically assaulted and injured her and support from everyone in her constituency
was admitted in hospital for two days. The - men women and the youth. Most women
case is still in court and yet to be concluded. lose election at the nomination level due to
She continued to be resilient and her family the many dishonest acts that take place at
was very supportive. that point. This can change with adequate
In July 2012, she joined TNA Party, which sensitisation, she notes. Most women
was very popular in Muranga County, and The MP serves in various committees in lose election at
won nomination for Kandara Constituency the 11th Parliament, including the Committee the nomination
Parliamentary Seat. Although she intensified on Administration and National Security,
her campaign, it was still not as easy as the Constitution Implementation Oversight level due to the
she had expected. Alice had to deal with Committee, and the Selection Committee. many dishonest
competitors who maligned her character She is thankful to organisations like AMWIK acts that take
and spread malicious rumors about her. She that helped to shape her leadership skills. She
fought the propaganda and did not allow remains vibrant in the womens movement place at that
herself to be intimidated. Finances were also hoping to inspire aspiring women leaders point.
a big challenge but her political party, and to work hard without giving up. Alice plans
supporters walked with her. to push for several motions in Parliament,
Alice won the Kandara Parliamentary including; free secondary education, election
Seat with a landslide in the March 4, 2013 law on the two-third gender rule, and also to
general election. She believes that her success rally support for social security stipend for
resulted from engaging party structures as the elderly and the vulnerable.
well as campaigning well and receiving

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Ngara Girls High School before proceeding


to State House Girls High School for her
Advanced Certificate of Education. She
graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree
in Agriculture and Home Economics at
Egerton University.
Aminas first employment was in 1993
at GTZ, a German NGO, through which
she was involved in rescue work at Dadaab
Refugee Camp in North Eastern Kenya.
Her mobilisation skills granted her favour
with donors, and as a result the World
Conservation Union (IUCN) employed her
as a regional coordinator. She managed
environmental programmes that required
collaboration with the government. Amina
soon discovered that there were numerous
government bureaucracies that required
political goodwill if she was to actualise her
organisations development initiatives. As
the person spearheading the programme,
I realised that its success depended on the
political class and leadership, she says.
As she strove to overcome the hurdles,

AMINA ABDALLA Amina developed interest in politics and


took on a strategic approach. She first
undertook a Masters Degree in International
NOMINATED Development Planning at
University in New York, USA. Working
Cornell

A
in the development sector with exposure
to international politics prepared Amina
mina Abdalla has been the 10th Parliament in 2008. She is serving in well for her political debut. In 2002, she
nominated to the August the 11th Parliament, having been nominated took leave of absence from her work place
House more times than by The National Alliance Party (TNA) of the to campaign for then KANU Presidential
any other politician. She Jubilee Coalition. The other four nominated Candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta. She looks back
was first nominated to women members of the current national with nostalgia, happy that she made the right
parliament in 2003 by assembly are serving their first terms. decision. She owes her three nominations to
KANU. The party, under Born and brought up in Nairobi, Amina Parliament to President Kenyatta, whom she
the PNU Alliance, again nominated her to attended New Pumwani Primary School and works closelywith. Amina acknowledges her

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own strength and contribution, saying that Parliament. She told us not to be flowers caucuses. In the last Parliament, she served in
parties only identify with you and nominate that decorate Parliament, Amina says with the Constitutional Implementation Oversight
you if they can tap into your potential. a giggle. She took the challenge seriously, Committee, which oversaw implementation
She describes politics as the wheel around and has made significant contributions of the 2010 Constitution. She also sits in the
which all our lives revolve, and cannot see through the parliamentary committees she powerful committee that vets cabinet and
any other way to help her people other than has chaired or sat in for the past ten years. principal secretaries.
through politics.Amina plays a central role In 2007, Amina brought to Parliament the Having gained much from KEWOPAsince
in the Jubilee Coalition. She is one of the motion that established The National Drugs joining Parliament, Amina has been one of
leaders who fought hard to have Uhuru Control Authority. its most active members. The environmental
Kenyatta as the Jubilee Coalition torchbearer The MP is the chairperson of the scientist encourages women to invest in
during party nominations. Environment and Natural Resources political parties and explore avenues of
Surprisingly, Amina does not have a Committee that is mandated with owning them. She says: Political parties are
role model, and is philosophical about it. looking into matters relating to climate the slaughter houses of womens political
She is motivated by failure. A smiling change, environmental management and ambitions. It is only after parties recognise
Amina explains that she does not accept conservation, forestry, water resource your strengths that they begin to tap into
failure. Whenever she meets a challenge, management, mining, and natural resources. them, She regrets that voters cannot tell
she summons all her internal and external She can proudly trace her contribution to the the difference between politicians and
energies to ensure that she succeeds. It New Constitution from Parliament and other legislators, and have denied many good
does not matter how long it takes, I must legislators a chance to serve in Parliament.
accomplish what I set out to do, she says. Legislators make laws that are progressive
The visibly elated member of the for a developing economy like Kenya. Make
National Assembly however shares her wise choices, she advises the electorate.
admiration and high regard for politician She told us not The legislator has explored the available
Martha Karua, who left a lasting impression to be flowers opportunities to empower and improve the
on her during their first encounter at lives of the nomadic communities in North
that decorate Eastern Kenya, particularly by building
Kenya Women Parliamentary Association
(KEWOPA). As Martha welcomed the new Parliament. peace among them. She works particularly
women parliamentarians to the political closely with Muslim women, who respect her
fold in 2002, she challenged them to add as a political role model. She is an inspiration
value to the legislative debates in the 9th to many sitting women MPs.

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H
on Cecily Mutitu
Mbarire may be
youthful, but her
political leadership
experience is consistent
and rich. She recalls
her first leadership
role as compound prefect at Sacred Heart
Kyeni Girls High School in Embu. Cecily
got into student leadership at her second
year of Political Science studies at Egerton
University. Friends urged me to vie for the
post of assistant organising secretary, which
I did and won, she narrates. At fourth year,
the straight talking Cecily vied for the vice
chairpersons position and won. That was
the highest office ever held by a female
student at the university, she says with
confidence.
Serving in student leadership suddenly
thrust the energetic Cecily into national
politics. We joined hands with political
leaders to fight injustices, including pushing
for an end to community clashes in the
Rift Valley then, Hon Mbarire narrates.
Just two months before completing her
studies, Egerton University students went
on a strike that saw Cecily and eleven
CECILY MBARIRE
other students expelled. That sudden
departure from university did not slow her RUNYENJES
down. Cecily got into civil society activism
through the Education Centre for Women in
Democracy (ECWD), on the invitation of Hon young people through proper education on on a National Party of Kenya ticket under
Charity Ngilu and Ambassador Tabitha Seii. their political, economic and social rights. the Narc Coalition, and lost. I was not
Meanwhile, the students instituted and won The MPs first exposure to the real world politically prepared. Wed gone through
a court case against the university and were of politics was in the 1997 Presidential ECWD training, but I realised that theory and
able to complete their studies. Campaigns for then SDP candidate, Charity practice are not the same, confesses Cecily.
At ECWD, Cecily found many young women Ngilu. The exposure and experience was an She started her campaign late, and was not
and men sharpening their skills in leadership, eye opener, says Cecily, who decided then to aware of the ukora (violence) of politics which
and seven of them started the Youth Agenda, vie in the next election. saw her lose at nomination level. I came
an organisation that has remained strong. In 2002, the 41-year-old mother of two second in nominations but stayed in the party
Their aim was to help enhance the lives of contested the Runyenjes Parliamentary seat because I was keen to see a new regime, says

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the deeply spiritual Christian. Once again Cecilys project highlights are however
she got involved in presidential campaigns, Use your five an irrigation project costing Kshs700 million
this time for Hon Mwai Kibaki (now retired that has benefitted over 2,000 farmers. They
president) and he won. Cecily got nominated
years wisely; gain were trained on modern farming methods
into Parliament. experience to vie and are doing very well, she says. Cecily has
I didnt feel like a nominee, asserts Hon for different seats also initiated a womens bank that has over
Mabarire, who decided to prove her worth 6,000 members. This is the biggest success
to the Narc Coalition and to the people of in the next election story for Runyenjes, and it has helped many
Runyenjes. The government appointed her so new women can women, including me, she says humbly. The
obviously ambitious youthful legislator is not
the Assistant Minister for Transport, and she fill the affirmative stopping work any time soon. She plans to
served in the position between 2005 and 2007.
In the constituency, she partnered with the action seats. initiate phase two of the irrigation project,
government, NGOs and corporate organisations and help the youth and women to access the
to enhance the lives of the people. Cecily steered Uwezo Fund.
the provision of medicine and ambulances to was two-tiered: first, the people felt she should The seventh born in a family of 10 perceives
dispensaries, and the improvement of schools, have vied for the womens representative leadership as a people/servant relationship
by helping to construct new classrooms. She also position, and not the constituency MP that requires humility. Times call for being
helped in identifying employment opportunities position. They also chided her for being a tough, she advises women politicians, adding
for the youth and became well known in the foreigner because she is married to a man that they should remain in touch with voters
constituency. from a different community. They told me at the constituency. To county MPs, Cecily
In 2007 she was confident of winning the that I didnt belong there, and if I needed recommends: Use your five years wisely; gain
election when she vied on a PNU Party ticket to vie for the seat then the constitution had experience to vie for different seats in the next
and became the first female MP for Runyenjes provided for special seats for women. I faced election so new women can fill the affirmative
Constituency. Again the government appointed them with real issues, she asserts. In 2007 action seats; thats the only way well achieve the
her the Assistant Minister for Tourism. Cecily she told voters that she was keen to deliver, 30 per cent threshold and meet the purpose of
won her seat again in the 2013 general and in 2013 she told them that she had affirmative action. She urges them to come out
election, being the second MP to have ever pending projects to complete. strongly on issues affecting women and prove
served a second term in the constituency. The After the 2007 election, Hon Mbarire got that they can be better legislators than men.
people of Runyenjes are notorious for one-term into an ambitious water project and had The current chairperson of KEWOPA is also
MPs, she shares. The only other MP that has done 60 per cent by the time of the 2013 the vice chairperson of the Public Accounts
ever done two terms in the constituency was election, and as she promised her voters, Committee, and a member of Transport and
Cecilys late father. Im trying to finalise the remaining 40 per Housing Committee. Though younger than
While listing lack of funds as one of the cent. From experience, she identified lack most new MPs, she mentors them through
barriers to the success of women seeking of water as one of the greatest challenges different forums, the way we were supported
political leadership, Hon Mbarire says the women face, and has worked tirelessly to by the MPs we found in Parliament. The holder
greatest challenge she faced in her two avail tapped domestic water. She also has of a Post-Graduate Diploma in Gender and
campaigns was gender discrimination. When a record of proper CDF management, youth Development Studies plans to table a motion
she first vied, not many women were running and womens empowerment, as well as that will assure gender equity in agricultural
for political office; besides that, no woman enabling an improved education system. labour inputs. It intends to compute input of
had ever been elected in her community, and About 1,500 young people have been trained women in agriculture because they work so
convincing voters in her favour was hard. on safe boda boda (bicycle taxi) operations, hard in the farms yet they dont have control
In the 2013 election, the discrimination greatly reducing accidents. over the finances, shares Cecily.

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Aware of the complexity of representing


the populous constituency of over 300,000
residents, Esther says that she is up to
the task. The graduate of Jomo Kenyatta
University of Agriculture and Technology
(JKUAT) considers herself a born leader.
She remembers serving as a class prefect
in primary school, and later as deputy
head girl at Kibutha Secondary School
in Muranga County. Even as MP, Esther
remains the vice chairperson of Mothers
Union, a womens fellowship group, in
her local church.
I joined politics by chance. Just before
the 2007 election, a friend requested me
to volunteer in his campaign team. After
the election, the Party of National Unity
(PNU) nominated me as a councilor. This
came as a surprise for me, and it took
my husbands moral support to transition
from a businesswoman to a politician. I
was later elected the deputy mayor for
Ruiru Municipality, ably serving in the
local government and developing my

ESTHER GATHOGO leadership and people skills, recalls


Esther.
As the 2013 election drew near, Hon
RUIRU Gathogo decided to take the big leap and
vie as the Member of Parliament for Ruiru.

E
She emerged victorious out of the eight
aspirants who vied for the The National
xuding confidence and describes herself as a self-made, charismatic, Alliance (TNA) nominations. Initially
warmth, Hon Esther outgoing, ambitious and resilient woman, I was a member of the Grand National
Gathogo is pleased with who does not hold back when pursuing a Union (GNU) Party but my supporters
her achievement. Formerly goal. I rose from being a shopkeeper in convinced me to join TNA, which was
a businesswoman, she Githurai Kimbo in the outskirts of Nairobi, popular at the grassroots. Esther set up
has worked hard, with to becoming a councilor, deputy mayor and a robust campaign team that got to work
patience and determination, finally the MP of Ruiru Constituency. Im immediately. Her campaign strategy was
to become the first female Member of honoured to serve the people of Ruiru, and door-to-door, to reach as many voters as
Parliament for Ruiru Constituency. Esther to offer them my leadership. possible, as every vote counted.

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Hon Gathogo encountered a lot of for other positions. In preparation for


verbal abuse during the campaign. politics, Esther notes that since women
My opponents spread propaganda politicians and their families face slander
about my personal life, which was very Women leaders and malice, they should all prepare
discouraging, she shares. She quickly adequately on how to deal with such
learnt that politics is not for the faint
have what it takes challenges. Women leaders have what it
hearted, as, male opponents are known to transform this takes to transform this country. I hope we
to hire goons to intimidate us. Esther country. I hope will have more women MPs in the next
experienced hooliganism but chose to be Parliament. Be focused and go for what
proactive by hiring security personnel.
we will have more you want.
She did not let threats or verbal abuse women MPs in the KEWOPA enables us to network with
intimidate her in her pursuit to represent next Parliament. Be fellow women MPs from different political
Ruiru Constituency. parties. We share ideas and strategise on
The other challenge she faced was
focused and go for what Bills to support in the House, she says
limited finances. Election campaigns you want. in appreciation of the role of KEWOPA in
are very expensive but I had no choice inducting women MPs on parliamentary
but to work with what I had. Her procedures. Esther is proud to serve in
family and supporters donated to her various committees of the House. She is the
campaign kitty, while TNAs policy to Her other agenda was the improvement vice chairperson of the CDF Committee,
charge female aspirants half of the fee of school infrastructure and addressing a member of the Energy Committee, and
for party candidates was helpful. Besides the rampant water problem - plans she the treasurer of KEWOPA.
that, Esthers volunteers, mainly women hopes to achieve within her initial five- Her dream is to see the implementation
and the youth traversed Ruiru to garner year term. I was elated when I won the of Article 81(b) of the Constitution,
support for her. She acknowledges election with over 60,000 votes, defeating touching on the two-thirds gender rule.
experienced women politicians like Hon many male contestants. Pundits did not In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that
Alice Nganga, the MP for Thika Town expect me to win the election because the gender rule should be implemented
Constituency and Hon Rachel Shebesh, Im a woman, while others did not expect progressively, but we need to adhere
the Women Representative for Nairobi me to deliver. Esther is in touch with to the spirit of the 2010 Constitution
County, for their moral support and advise Ruiru constituents, and is always ready that envisioned affirmative action from
on how to manage a campaign and deal to address issues affecting them, like the Senate to the County Assemblies.
with opponents. They introduced me rising insecurity. She understands Ruirus Our country is a patriarchal society
to organisations that supported women potential for development as a rising and women face cultural and economic
candidates, training and equipping cosmopolitan constituency. challenges compared to men, says the
them with necessary presentation and For the next election, Esther urges mother of three.
media skills, and even printing campaign women to come out in large numbers and Hon Gathogo, who has been happily
material for the women candidates. vie for elective positions, and to remain married for 20 years, says that she has
Esthers campaign manifesto clearly positive and learn from successful women learnt the art of balancing her family
articulated issues facing Ruiru. She spelled politicians. She challenges them to go and political responsibilities. Her family
out her plans to empower women, the beyond vying for the positions of womens supports her political aspiration and
youth and people living with disability. representatives, and contest against men cheers her towards excellence.

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E
sther Murugi is the first
woman to vie for the
Nyeri Town Constituency
parliamentary seat, and she
went for it backed by two
pros: an aspiration to bring
forth a leadership that was
accessible to the people; and find a way to
address the plight of the elderly.
Esther tossed her hat into the ring for the
first time in 1997. She lost. She tried and
lost again in 2002. In my first attempt, I
thought that all I needed to do was to let the
voters know my plan, she says. She learnt
fast that to win one must have a sound work
plan, do the groundwork and continuously
interact with the people to have them know
and believe in you, as only then can they
buy into your plan. One must also have the
necessary resources and an early start in the
campaigning journey.
In her second attempt, she did the above
but fell short because she was not in the
correct party. Times are changing and
we are starting to see people win elections
as independent candidates. Nonetheless, it
is still very hard to win an election in Kenya
ESTHER MURUGI
if you are not in the most popular political
party in a particular region, Murugi says
NYERI TOWN
matter-of-factly.
In her third attempt in 2007, Murugi
was elected, becoming the first female MP that the Cash Transfer Programme for Older the first MP to capture the Nyeri Town
for Nyeri Town Constituency. She was later Persons is still going on, as through it, the Constituency parliamentary seat for a second
appointed Minister for Gender and Children elderly in our midst are able to take care term since the advent of multiparty politics
Affairs in 2008 and Minister for Special of themselves and thus retain their respect, in Kenya. Learn what works for you, says
Programmes in 2010. she says. Through the programme, persons Murugi. I mean, Im not many things. Im not
It was during her time as a minister that over 65 years living in extreme poverty much of a shouter. And guess what? I have
Murugi accomplished her biggest feat yet - receive Ksh1, 500 monthly for upkeep. Esther come to learn that you dont have to shout to be
the pet project that drove her into politics oversaw the enhancement of the programme heard. Im not a big talker either, and Ive also
in the first place: providing the necessary from three districts to 44, in 2009. learnt that you dont have to promise voters
care and support to the elderly. I am happy In 2013, Murugi was re-elected, becoming heaven and earth to be elected, she adds.

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Her greatest achievement in the Secondary School, (now Moi Girls School idea is to concentrate on what works for
constituency is the implementation of Eldoret). The school also produced another you, she says reassuringly. The strategy
water projects, which have enabled most of Murugis role models, the late Philomena can protect you from physical violence. For
households get access to adequate water for Chelagat, former Eldoret North MP. When I verbal violence, which women aspirants
home and farm use. She is also proud of was appointed a prefect in high school, most get in abundance, a thick skin will do the
the level of transparency in her constituency, of my friends were the noisemakers and so trick, adds Murugi who is a member of the
stating that anyone who visits the Nyeri they knew I would just let them be. I didnt. Committee on Appointment and the Lands
Town CDF offices can see how every coin In so doing, I learnt a key leadership lesson: Committee.
given to the constituency has been used. doing the right thing. The thick skin also comes handy when
Born in 1953, Murugi never thought In politics, Murugi learnt the importance a woman is elected, as politics is still very
of joining politics until her early 40s. I of doing the right thing at the right time. much patriarchal. The notion that women
didnt have a particular career in mind until One of the biggest challenges women in are not supposed to hold opinions on
I joined high school and started fancying politics face is violence during political important matters is still alive, says Murugi
a career in nursing, she says. Actually, campaigns, she says. She handles this who though soft-spoken, speaks her mind
almost my entire class wanted to become by following the counsel of the late Isaiah when need be.
nurses - thanks to our overly pretty school Mathenge, a friend of her fathers and one of Grateful for a second chance to serve the
nurse. This dream died instantly though, the candidates she competed against in the people of Nyeri Town Constituency, Murugi
when Murugis class visited Eldoret District 1997 election. He told her not to campaign is not looking too far into the future because
Hospital and found out that a nurses job during the night. there is still a lot to be done in the present,
was not that pretty. Murugi opted for a Calling it a day at 6 p.m. may seem including tackling issues of drug and alcohol
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Land Economics like a disadvantage seeing that men go on abuse, unemployment, and the declining
at the University of Nairobi in the 1970s campaigning way into the night, but the standard of education in her constituency.
before working at several organisations and She hopes to make a difference that
eventually starting her own real estate firm would start changing peoples mindset
Lustman & Co Ltd in 1989. about womens ability to lead. I would
In the early 1990s, while still running her rather more resources were used to help
young company, Murugi joined Soroptimist voters appreciate the role women play in
International and started working and
Calling it a day at 6 leadership than in organising conferences
interacting with women living in her home p.m. may seem like for women aspirants, she says.
village of Githiru in Nyeri. These interactions a disadvantage Murugi who unwinds by reading,
made her realise that she was the type of swimming or farming, is optimistic about
leader her community was looking for:
seeing that men the future of women in politics in Kenya,
approachable, dependable and accountable. go on campaigning but states that it will take a while before a
The MPs greatest source of inspiration way into the night, woman takes the highest office in the land.
is her grandmother. I was named after my For Kenya to get a woman president is a
maternal grandmother, the founder member
but the idea is to tall, tall, tall order. Yes, three talls, she says,
of the Womens Guild in Nyeri and one of concentrate on what works never missing a chance to exercise her funny
my first exposures to women in leadership, for you. bone. It isnt impossible, but it will take
says Murugi. The first born in a family of time. Lets start by electing women senators
11 had her first leadership role at Highlands and governors, she states.

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G
race Kipchoim has
defied culture and
other obstacles to
become the first
woman from the
minority Endorois
Community to get
elected to Parliament. Grace won the Baringo
South Constituency seat in the March 4,
2013 General Election. I won because I
planned well. I conducted a well-coordinated
campaign and delivered the right messages
to voters. It was tough but I managed to
defeat all other candidates, predominantly
men, she says. Grace is among the 16
women elected to the 11th Parliament, and is
motivated by a desire to alleviate poverty in
her constituency, and empower women and
youth economically. She wants these two
groups of people to write proposals that can
win them credit facilities for their income
generating activities. Women and youth are
the majority in Baringo South, yet the most

GRACE KIPCHOIM
disadvantaged economically. I want to see
their fortunes change for better, she says.
To succeed, Grace pledges to operate
on an open door policy and incorporate
the views of all her constituents. All views BARINGO SOUTH
from my constituents matter. I have to be
open minded about the concerns of my
constituents, but I also have to strike a
balance between their expectations and Accountancy (KCA) and achieved Certified leader is Deputy President, William Ruto,
reasonable priorities, she says. She did Public Accountancy (CPA 5). She worked easily won seats not only in the county but
her Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) with Medical Training College (MTC) from also in the expansive Rift Valley Province. Her
at Solian Primary School and proceeded 1982 till she joined politics. priority areas include education to empower
to Kapropita Secondary School and later According to her, a wise choice of the residents to be self-reliant in all sectors. I
Lugulu Girls High School in Western political vehicle to use, URP, was also key am particularly going to ensure both young
Kenya, for her advanced level (A-level) of to her emerging victorious in the election. girls and boys are given an equal chance
education. She joined the Kenya College of Most contestants on the partys ticket, whose in education by campaigning against early

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marriages among young girls, she notes. In the National Assembly, she sits points out. She adds the need for KEWOPA
Grace also intends to ensure development in the Transport, Public Works and to partner with other organisations involved
of more schools in Baringo South, and Housing Committee. She is a member in women empowerment programmes
equipping them for better educational of KEWOPA, and has benefitted from its to boost womens numbers in elective
provision for local children. She also plans induction programmes for women MPs and positions.Despite the new constitutions
to fight against insecurity, which to her is a Senators. Women in this country are still provision on gender equity, we are yet to
major threat to development, not only in the disadvantaged when it comes to elective realize the two thirds gender provision. This
area, but in other parts of the country as well. leadership and a lot has to be done in is an area that requires urgent measures
Baringo County is among the hardest hit by mentoring those aspiring to make a mark, she and interventions, notes the first-time MP.
the cattle rustling menace. Development She says however that it is upon women
can only be realised where people live in MPs in Parliament as well as those in the
peace and engage in their daily activities County Assemblies to be at the fore-front at
without fear. I intend to champion peace championing for increased representation
in the constituency and even neighbouring of women at all levels in the next general
constituencies, adds the MP. Development can election.We are going to be watched as
To promote infrastructural development, only be realised women elected leaders on our contribution
especially roads, she intends to liaise with towards realizing gender equity in line with
the county government and the national
where people the Constitution. It is a challenge we must
government. Close working relations live in peace and work to overcome, she says.
between the two levels of government engage in their The mother of four says that through proper
is crucial in infrastructure development planning, she is able to create time for both
particularly roads. Roads play an important
daily activities politics and family. My time management
role in personal and regional development, without fear. has room for my family, meetings and
since they enhance access to services and listening to my constituents, attending to
markets. This is high on my list of priorities, the National Assemblys responsibilities and
, explains Grace. other political engagements.

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W
ere politics all
ab out sp e a k i ng
loud and
heckling, then
Hon Hellen
J e p k e m o i
Sambili, the
MP for Mogotio and a one-time cabinet
minister,would have long been ruled out
of it. Her gentle voice mirrors her humility,
something that contradicts her status as a
seasoned politician. Hellen has retained her
parliamentary seat twice in succession. Prof
Sambilis words are calculated, and like she
attests, necessarily few. Not in politics, not
anywhere should anyone shout to be heard,
she states, adding that politics is not a game
of words like some people deduce. It is a
game of action and delivering to the people
who sent you to represent them in whatever
capacity, she declares.
Born in a small drought-prone village
in Mogotio, Hellen attended Kipngorom
Primary School with the determination to

HELLEN SAMBILI
excel in academics. Having lost her father at the
age of eight, Hellen watched her mother make
immense decisions on her own, andstruggle to
bring up herseven children single-handedly.
My mother has since been my role-model and MOGOTIO
I vowed to work hard in school to assist her
in educating my siblings, the second born
of the seven siblings says. Hellen remembers
her childhood with nostalgia: I wanted to Commonwealth Fellowshipalso in the UK, I thank my husband for his great support
become a teacher because I was not exposed the former Minister for Higher Education is as I went through these levels of education.
to manycareeroptions. Besides that, teaching a veritable academician. She studied Botany He stood by me and was my mentor, she
was already viewed as a noble job, she states. and Zoology in herundergraduate studies, reveals. She asserts that her education has
Today as an MP, she is a member of many taught at Kabarak Girls High School among influenced her in promoting schools within
school boards and an academic mentor to other renowned schools. She lectured at the her community. When I sponsor students
many youth. Egerton University, Njoro, where she was a to join universities, I am sure that their lives
With education from the Universityof curriculum and instruction head of department will change for the better! she emphasises,
Nairobi, Lancaster University, UK, and a and an acting dean,till she joined politics. adding that her competence influenced even

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her siblings who equally did well in school. Her promise to the Mogotio peoplehas
Hellens star in leadership started shining One should bear been the same since joining politics: I
at an early age. However, she could barely will protect your resources. She has started
tell that it would be her gateway, not only
in mind that the eleven secondary schools and helped over
as an educationist but also as a renowned illiterate woman in 300 youthto get jobs. Women and the youth
politician. The land in Kipngorom was the village and the were among her key supporters and she notes
very unproductive and as Prof Sambili now that it would be inexcusable not to involve
recounts, her mother moved the family to doctorate holder in them when she settled in Parliament. I have
the neighboring Kiplombe Village.As a Parliament are all alwaysfeltagitatedto see people languishing
result, Hellen and her siblings transferred partners. in need while the people they elected enjoy
to Kiplombe Primary School. It is in this posh lives, she observes. She shakes her
new school that the head teacher spotted head disapprovingly as she recollects the cold
her prowess in education and nurtured her. make dinner for her and her grandmother, nights with her supporters in a community
Today, I recognise Kiplombe Primary School before settling down to do her homework. that is so hostile to women leadership.
as the foundation that made me the professor From that mud-walled hut, I emerged first in Hon Sambili says that her relationship
that I am, she says, noting that she still Kiplombe and joined Nakuru High School, with the opponents she defeated in the
recalls how the head teacher insisted that she beams.She was the head-girl in the election, and colleagues in Parliament, is
she remains back and make a name for his mixed secondary school, where her potential cordial, thanks to her Christian faith. She has
school even when the family went back to for leadership was released. not received any training from any politically
Kipngorom after the drought. Prof Sambilis entry into Parliament affiliated body and does not think it is
Coming from the remote Kiplombe Village was an unpleasant experience; political necessity. I find it a waste of time, more so
where politics, especially among women, was skirmishes had rocked the country in the post for the MPs who have served a previous term
previouslyunheard of, it was unsurprisingly 2007/2008 election. She regrets that she had she notes. The legislator believes that politics
not in Hellens wildest dreams that she would not even healed from bruises of the political is something you learn on the job and one
one day be a Cabinet Minister,or even a campaign when duty to preach peace in the can do well if they relate well with everyone
representative of the government. My dream county called. I had been rigged out at the in the political circles. One should bear in
was to become a high school teacher and nomination level by ODM and had joined the mind that the illiterate woman in the village
be a role model to my siblings, she laughs then unpopular UDM through which I got and the doctorate holder in Parliament are all
because indeeda teacher she did become the seat, she asserts, adding that she thought partners in one way or another, she stresses.
though at the highest level. that she would have time to heal from the For women wishing to join politics, Prof
The wife and mother of four, Hellen disappointment by ODM. Sambili warns about being cosmetic. She says
recalls how she stayed with hergrandmother In the 2013 election, Hellen vied on a that it is prudent to be yourself and sell the
in Kiplombe when her family went back to KANU ticket and though it was not a walk original you. You cannot hide in cosmetics
their village. Not only was I lonely because in the park, she won. She declares that her forever, your lie will soon expose you! she
of being separated from my family, but I gentleness has silenced many people who says. The MP advises that interacting with
was also overwhelmed by house chores, would have tried to foil her campaigns by people in the community before announcing
she remembers. She tells how she walked six insulting her. She never experienced any ones political intentions is a good idea,
kilometers to Kiplombe Primary School every physical or verbal violence. I believe that because people get to know the aspirant better
weekday and collected firewood on her way the best way to avoid a quarrel is by keeping before the campaigning period begins. No
back home. She would then fetch water and quiet, she remarks. one will vote for a stranger, she wraps up.

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H
on Janet Marania
Teiyaa was the
first girl to get an
education in Ilkilorit
Village, Kaijado
County.Janet has
been passionate about
politics since childhood. Whenever I
got the opportunity, I would cheer any
leader addressing a gathering,and it didnt
matter if I knew him or not; as long as
he was talking politics, he had my ears,
she laughs. Her passionfor and interest in
politics was so overwhelming that Janet
could not hide it from friends and family.
Her parents often complained that she
was getting overboard with her political
debates.Iliked listening to the radio and
reading newspapers for news; any news on
politics,to keep myself updated, says the
nominated MP.
Away from her youthful dreams, as an
adult, Janet has engaged in politics from a
different platform and in different capacities.

JANET TEIYAA
She was an agent at a local polling station
during the 2007 election, and later during
the August 2010 constitutional referendum.
Janet also remembers campaigning actively
prior to the YES/NO referendum of 2005. NOMINATED
The 33-year-old legislatorsays that
she has worked hard in her community
and appreciates that she got rewarded Through a womens group called to communicate and have their views heard,
with the political leadership position. Ewanganoo Ilkilorit Self Help Group that she says. Through the organisation, persons
The journey, she says, began after her she initiated in 2007, Janet spearheaded with disability in her area enjoy improved
secondary education at Enoomatasiani sponsorship of girls to school. Fifteen girls sanitation through easy eccess to toilets and
Mixed Boarding School. Janet took a one have already benefited. Hon Teiyaa also water; improved mobility; education and
year accounts course at Masaai Technical founded an NGO called Wema Trust to physical fitness, among others.
Institute in Kajiado Town, after which she support and empower persons living with Because she likes to empower her
started projects to improve womens social disability. I believe people living with community, Janet has helped many Maasai
and economic well being in her village. She disability should enjoy the same rights and men and women get adult education to be
also dabbled as an adult education teacher. opportunities as others. They should be free able to read and write and transact businesses

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with understanding. Many local pastors now Ole Sayo, they got my parents to take me She appreciates the work KEWOPA has
know how to read their Bibles, while small to school, she recalls with a smile.She done in mentoring women leaders. KEWOPA
and medium enterprise owners are able to attended AIC Kajiado Girls Boarding has been at the fore front in ensuring that
run their businesses more efficiently, and Primary School, where she leant to walk we are well equipped with knowledge and
even access loans, Janet reveals, happily. on crutches, easing off the discomfort of skills even as we serve Kenyans, notes
She has held seminars in various parts of depending on others to move around. Janet. She hopes that Parliament will ensure
Kajiado to empower her people socially, The legislator shares advice with other that the one third gender rule is attained
economically and spiritually. Kajiado is one potentialleaders: Learn as you go. Take one soon. Countries like Rwanda, Uganda and
of the richest counties in Kenya, something day at a time. The best teachers are leaders Tanzania are far ahead of us when it comes
that Janet is proud of. who have been there beforeyou, who have to these issues. Kenyans, we should pull up
Being nominatedto parliament by TNA succeeded in addressing issues affecting our socks, she states.
Party to represent persons with disability Kenyans.Janet appreciates the good Some of the challenges she has faced
was an honour to the first born of seven relationship she enjoys with parliamentary include the slow pace of effecting major
siblings. That I am a woman, and one with colleagues of either gender. They are changes on issues that affect persons with
a disability, and Im serving my people in friendly and always willing to assist each disability. Janet and fellow parliamentarians
Parliament, is a big achievement, exclaims other, she says.The MP sits in the Labour with disability are forced to stay at the back
the soft spoken Janet. She says that and Social Welfare Committee. Keen to during parliamentary sittings because there
cultural norms in her community continue understand parliamentary processes,Janet is no ramp to help them access the front. This
to perpetuate stigmatisation of people has been taking her time to first adapt challenge reminds her of one of her priorities
with disability and women. Janet did not to her new environment, and learn about during her term in Parliament: to ensure the
know that local leaders in her county had parliamentary Standing Orders, language lives of persons with disabilityare improved.I
identified her as a potential leader and and how to ask and respond to questions plan to push for implementation of the
the right candidate to represent persons and motions, among other things. Now I legislation that makes it mandatory to have
with disability in Parliament. When she feel ready to start working on a Bill, says ramps built in all public buildings to increase
got the news, through an IEBC gazzette the born again Christian, adding that all access for persons with disability. I will also
announcement at her local market, she things are possible with God. push to have the government compel public
was elated. She recalls that some of her transport vehicles to be built to accommodate
benefactors had urged her to vie for a seat people with disability, especially those on
in the general election to represent persons wheel chairs, she declares.
with disability, but she had declined due Learn as you go. Take The other priorities that Hon Teiyaa
to her work load. Seems like God had one day at a time. hopesto achieve in this term are construction
already decided my fate, she laughs. The best teachers of more bore holes and improvement of
Although Janet could not stand up or roads to reduce the burden on her people.
walk using her legs, she played and did are leaders who Shewill also continue toaddress the sorry
much of the things children her age did. have been there plight of girls and women is her county.
Crippledby polio atthe age of five, her Currently she is seeking solutions for
before you, who
biggest challenge was that her polygamous women who do beadwork for a living, who
father was not willing to send her to school have succeeded in are currently facing challenges due to a
alongside her siblings. By Gods grace, a addressing issues slump in tourism. Leaders are meant to be
social worker, Grace Kinyatua,heard about servants who are serving their people, and
my plight and together with the local chief,
affecting Kenyans. that is what I am out to do, she says.

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Hon Mbalu is not new to leadership,


having been a prefect from her early days
in school. I was a prefect at Ituumo
Primary School, and head girl at Muvuti
Secondary School, and participated
in student leadership during my
undergraduate studies at the University
of Nairobi, Jessica recalls. Before
joining Parliament, she worked as a
finance consultant for Water Trust Board,
and a part time lecturer at the Catholic
University of Eastern Africa. When my
head of department at the university
encouraged me to pursue a leadership
position in my constituency, my family
and friends supported the idea and I
decided to run with it, she says.
It was not until nine months to the
election that Jessica declared her interest
in vying for the Kibwezi East parliamentary
seat. She had been and still is an
apprentice of the women leaders whose
strong persona she admires, particularly

JESSICA MBALU
Hon Charity Ngilu, Wavinya Ndeti and
Martha Karua. During my campaign, I
was branded Martha Karua wa Kibwezi,
she says smiling. Jessica looked up
KIBWEZI EAST to Hon Ngilu in many ways and even

K
engaged with her party, NARC-Kenya,
before moving to the Wiper Democratic
ibwezi East Member of development, having worked with the Movement. This was solely because the
Parliament, Hon Jessica women and youth of Kibwezi before she political wave in Kibwezi at the time
Mbalu, won her current started her journey to politics. Some of was in favour of the CORD Coalition,
position with a landslide, her initiatives include being a founding and since this is what my constituents
unexpected of a first timer trustee of Centre for Women and Girls, wanted, I moved from NARC-Kenya to
in political leadership. an organisation that exists to empower Wiper. Notably, this did not jeopardise
A woman of remarkable women, being the patron of RICH, my relationship with Hon Ngilu with
modesty and decorum, Jessica draws her an association that works with people whom I still work, she explains.
strength from family. affected by HIV/AIDS, and a board Apart from political preparation by
Her interest has always been in member of St. Marys Secondary School. experienced women leaders, Jessica

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benefited from training by organisations the Public Accounts Committee, Business


such as the UNDP. Her case was a get it House Committee, and Rules and
right the first time scenario, as she had
I have to maintain my Regulations Committee. She has made
barely six months to make herself known respect regardless, major contributions in Motions related to
to the constituents, liked, preferred over because these men water, land and electricity, which are a
other candidates, and most important, priority in her constituency.
voted for. At the Wiper Party, she went
are our brothers, Among the challenges the MP faces
through nominations, and being a fathers, husbands, include the expectation that she has to
first timer, astounded many when she sons and so on. solve her constituents every problem
won it with a landslide. She says the immediately. She tackles this by setting
achievement was not easy. While winning her priorities right. Her family is her
the nomination was a step towards the following day! she says. The tremendous backbone, and Jessica creates time for her
right direction, real work awaited her show of support motivated her further. husband and their two sons. She strongly
during campaigns. Her posters were Jessicas issues of priority for her believes in women empowering fellow
pulled down, and her constituents urged constituents are water, education and women, and notes that the resources
not to vote for her just because she poverty. Her goal is to do her very best, and used to train women political leaders are
was a woman. There was propaganda to leave a legacy. As Jessica puts it, there a wise investment because the trainings
about my conduct that was aimed at were a number of white elephant projects left help women become better leaders.
discouraging me - that as a woman I was undone by her predecessors, some of them To women aspiring for elective
not good enough to represent the people dating back to three terms. She plans to positions, Jessica says: Go, go, go!
of Kibwezi. But that was not about to put finish those as well as her own new projects I encourage more women to take up
me down because I am proud to been a before leaving office. Hon Mbalu has worked leadership positions and not to be
woman, she asserts. on water projects and education. She notes intimidated by challenges. Noting that
Wisely, Hon Mbalu chose to keep her that most pupils in her constituency do so certain changes in Parliament can only
head high and focus on her campaign. well in primary school but not in secondary be achieved with the participation of
She did not respond to her critics with school due to limited resources. more women, Jessica looks forward to the
insults because, as she puts it, I have to A member of KEWOPA, Jessica day that women in Parliament will not be
maintain my respect regardless, because appreciates the association for building a third only, but as many as the men,
these men are our brothers, fathers, her capacity and mentoring her on because they are capable of winning
husbands, sons and so on. She received diverse parliamentary issues, including more elective positions.
insurmountable support from women and how to approach Bills and Motions, and On vying in 2017, the confident leader
the youth, perhaps because she already how to deal with pertinent issues in her says, My leadership is focused on output.
had rapport with them in the development constituency. She received basic induction At the end of my term, I will evaluate my
projects she had initiated, and because to parliamentary procedures, and the rest, performance and when satisfied I will go
she is a youthful woman. especially about the Constitution and back to the ballot box for the same or a
The Certified Public Accountant Standing Orders, as she puts it, You learn higher position. Jessica has a degree in
witnessed a huge turnout at her first through experience and participation. Commerce, Finance option, and an MBA,
rally. She had invited family, friends, and She is part of the chairpersons panel, Strategic Management option, both from
being a staunch Catholic, the clergy. I popularly known as the Speakers Panel. the University of Nairobi, and is currently
wished the election was happening the Courtesy of this position, she serves in pursuing a PHD.

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C
onfident, assertive and
accountable are the
words that best describe
Dr Joyce Laboso,
the MP for Sotik. A
distinguished scholar,
a teacher by profession
and a seasoned politician, Dr Laboso stands
out in her community. Who would have ever
guessed that I would walk the hot political
ground after many years of a peaceful life as a
lecturer and high school teacher? the deputy
speaker of the National Assembly wonders.
The first born in a family of six, Joyce
commanded respect from her siblings at a very
young age. I always felt in charge and welcomed
no intimidation, especially from bullies, she
recollects. Being in charge saw her become a
prefect throughout her primary and secondary
school education. She resolved differences
between her siblings with judiciousness that
stunned her mother. My siblings were close
in age, making fighting inevitable, but I was
the one to stop any kind of misunderstanding

JOYCE LABOSO
between them, she chuckles.
Born in a financially stable family in
Kericho, Joyce attended some of the most
prestigious schools in the area, including
the then famous Molo Primary School and SOTIK
Kaplong Girls Boarding School. She later
joined Kenya (Girls) High School for her
secondary and advanced level education. She academically, stems from her grandmother graduate degree in France. She started French
owes her character to Kenya High School, who she stayed with in her first years of Classes at Kipsigis Girls Secondary School
noting that her talents were spotted and primary school. Joyce says her grandmother where she was posted to upon returning from
nurtured there. I could sing like a cockatiel was never short of stories and songs that were France. After her Masters studies in the UK,
parrot and recite poetry so well that today I educative and had a moral. She remembers Joyce taught at the Egerton University, Njoro.
wonder why I didnt pursue music in my line with nostalgia listening to her grandmothers She started off as an assistant lecturer,
of education, she recounts. Dancing is still folk songs and stories about animals during rose to become a lecturer, then an assistant
one of her hobbies. long walks to the farm to weed. The alumni dean of students, before flying again to the
Joyces love for poetry and literature, of Kenyatta University studied Literature and UKs University of Hull for her PhD. She
which she has extensively pursued French, and got a scholarship for her post- owes a lot of her success to her academic

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accomplishments. I attend workshops and After soul-searching and encouragement The second race for the parliamentary
courses whenever I have an opportunity even from her husband and family, Joyce gave seat was not as difficult as the first as Laboso
in my current capacity as a politician, she the position a try, consoling herself that had become renown in politics. She had
states. Though her schedule is tight, the wife even if she did not make it, no one would successfully moved a bill to law. Her choice
and mother of two works efficiently and finds blame her for not trying. I engaged with of party was again prompted by its popularity
time for her family. At the end of it all, I am ODM which was the party of the time and in Sotik. It was URP for me, and again I won
still the wife to my husband and the mother the party with which my sister had won, she by a landslide, she says.
of my two children, she quips. recalls. When Joyce won the primary election, Joyce acknowledges that she has learned a
Having won the Sotik Parliamentary her courage increased and she forged ahead, lot from KEWOPA and other seasoned women
Seat twice consecutively, the MP points out even though her opponents argued that she politicians such as Hon Charity Ngilu, among
that politics is not a piece of cake, and that had been favoured. During the nomination, others, and gained the confidence to hold the
one has to learn the skill of convincing and she reflected that she would sail through deputy speakers position. I had sat as an
building supporters trust. During political using her late sisters manifesto, which she acting speaker before, what would stop me
campaigns, she notes that anything can bring had helped to draft. She has stood by that from being the deputy speaker of the National
the candidate down. My marriage to a man manifesto and is glad that most of her late Assembly? I had reasoned.
from the Luo community, for instance, did not sisters wishes for the Sotik Community have Dr Laboso enjoys mentoring school and
only bring family displeasure, but also caused been accomplished. university girls from her constituency. In her
me serious political headache, she recalls, Her first campaign saw enormous backing two terms in Parliament, Joyce has prioritised
adding that she had to be wise to be accepted from women and the youth. Political the development of roads, education, water
by her Luo and Sotik relatives. campaign is not a game for the nervous, and electricity within her constituency.
Joyce met and married her husband amidst she says, remembering that at one point her She has also held close to heart womens
opposition from her family and community. opponents had paid goons to strip her naked empowerment. So far, the legislator has seen
But like she refers to herself, she was the at one of her rallies. She dared them to come the revamping of Kamureito and Kapures
madam fix it who later stood up, as an MP, near her while on the rostrum as she addressed roads, together with the tarmacking of Gorgo
to preach anti-tribalism in her community. her supporters. Though I laugh out when I road. This has made transport of merchandise
Her debut into politics was unceremonious. remember my maiden campaign, the things to the markets easier for the people. She
The first signals were sent as she eulogised people do and say during such campaigns are has also had water tanks put in different
her late sister, Lorna, who had died in a plane a foul taste to the mouth, she states. schools and started several water projects. Dr
crash barely three months after being elected Laboso also prides in having started in the
to Parliament. She recalls how, during the constituency, a womens Sacco, which already
funeral, she mentioned the issues her sister has 5000 members. A Youth Sacco will soon
would have addressed had she completed her get started.
term, rousing loud and enchanting applause. The Deputy Speaker has some advice
The message was clear that the people wanted for women interested to vie for an elective
her to fill the position left by her sister. A week
Political campaign position: Start selling yourself early, attend
later, elders announced that they had chosen is not a game for weddings, baby showers and funerals in your
her to fill the vacant Sotik Parliamentary Seat. the nervous. constituency. That way people will know
I was dumbfounded! she recollects. I am you before you go asking for their votes,
the least vocal in my family and wondered she cautions, and quickly adds; Dont fear
what I would say during campaigns or even insults and malice. Be focused on what you
as a representative of the people. intend to give your people, she concludes.

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S
he made history when she won
the Teso South Parliamentary
seat. Mary Emaase, a person
of remarkable achievement,
is the first woman to be
elected an MP in Teso
South Constituency, and the
third to be elected in Busia County. Her
predecessors were Prof Julia Ojiambo, a
former Funyula Constituency MP, and Prof
Christine Mango, who represented Butula
Constituency. Mary is also the first MP from
the Teso Community to join Parliament.
Vying on a URP ticket, she clinched the
seat with 14,420 votes, beating her closest
challenger with more than 3,000 votes. Mary
was the only elected female MP in the more
than 30 constituencies in Western Province.
An accountant by profession, Mary had
sworn not to lose in the political battle. She
assured the Teso South voters that casting
their votes in her favour translated into
electing the right leader who genuinely cared
about the welfare of the people. After party

MARY EMAASE
nominations, she quit her original party,
ODM, which was one of the popular parties
in the region, for URP. ODM, she said,
had rigged her out in favour of a stronger
candidate. Confident of her popularity,
TESO SOUTH
Mary moved to URP, vowing to teach ODM
and the bigger political parties a lesson.
For years, these parties have looked down forward to working with the brothers who things we did; but we will be judged by I
upon women candidates, however strong, were my opponents in the contest, because was hungry, and you gave me something to
preferring to push in male candidates, who pooling our ideas will ensure that Teso South eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was
have more money, she regrets. Constituency moves forward fast, and unite homeless, and you took me in; this is what
Elated by her win, Mary announced that the people towards a common cause. At the we have to be and do in our society, she
she would immediately start to implement end of the day, we will not be judged by says, quoting Mother Teresa, who is one of
all the projects she had promised. Striking how many diplomas we received, or how her role models.
a reconciliatory tone, she says, I look much money we made, or how many great Having tested and seen the benefits

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of education, Mary plans to transform and the Committee on Selection, which


education in Teso South Constituency to nominates members to serve in Parliamentary
escalate development. Her other priority is to
For years these committees. As a member of KEWOPA, she
fight insecurity that has been common in the parties have looked is one of the new female MPs who have
area since early 2013. This is one of the first down upon women been inducted well to carry out her duties
challenges I have faced as MP as it began competently in the 11th Parliament. Without
just months after my election, she says. She
candidates however KEWOPAs support, we new comers would
has persuaded the government to deploy strong, prefering be lost around the House, she says.
more security personnel in the area as one to push in male During her homecoming fete, Mary
of the immediate measures. Busia County hosted Deputy President, Hon William Ruto.
was bruised irreparably by the killings that
candidates who have More than 10 MPs from the region attended
took place this year and we need lasting more money. and pledged to work closely with her and the
solutions. The people fear that conflict might Jubilee Government. She has also pledged
recur if not properly handled, she discloses. to unite with her Teso North counterpart
Like in most parts of Kenya, poverty (who also won on a URP ticket) to promote
among the people of Teso South Constituency providing clean water and improving the development of the two constituencies for
is one of problems that bother Mary. To road network in the constituency. the benefit of the Teso Community. Her
reduce it, she is working towards eliminating Mary is the vice chairperson of the approach to leadership is people driven,
unemployment. Also on her list of priorities Budget and Appropriations Committee in inviting her constituents to share with her
is the improvement of the rights and welfare the National Assembly. She also sits in the through the social media, their concerns and
of girls and women. Her other plans include Finance, Planning and Trade Committee, problems and how best to solve them.

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the seat, I knew I would not stop at anything


until I got it, says the calm mother of one.
Mary remembers her life as a young girl,
with nostalgia. The poverty and need she
experienced as she grew up did not stop her
from emerging the household name she is
today, and getting into heights of politics and
business prosperity. She enjoyed joining her
age-mates to the forests, which were Mau-Mau
hideouts, to fetch firewood and draw water.
I was an obedient child and my mothers
favorite, so I did most of the house chores,
recalls the first born of three. Besides, Mary
was scared of corporal punishment, so she
never disobeyed. I dont remember a day
when my mother physically disciplined me,
she laughs.
Born in Munyange Location, Mary
attended Munyange Primary School. She
was a sports girl who always represented her
school in competitions. Her father, who was
an employee in the then common European
farms, could not afford her secondary
education, forcing her to drop out after
primary. She has today focused on education

MARY WAMBUI
for her constituents, saying she must give
them what she never got. I have been
manhandled several times by people who are
more educated than I am, she confides.
OTHAYA Hard work has been her mantra since
childhood. She learned from her mother

S
never to depend on anyone but to be fast
he is a go-getter. In her 50s, Brought up in a humble family that to assist other people. The Christian from
Mary Wambui, the MP for could sometimes barely get enough to eat, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa notes
Othaya, has deleted the Mary owes her success to her determination that she gets most of her blessings through
word impossible from her and assertiveness. She confirmed to herself, giving. I owe my success in business and
vocabulary. I chose to work her family and constituents that everything politics to generosity, she discloses. Mary
hard and prayed to God to is possible when she trounced her political started business after quitting employment
help me achieve all that I have opponents and succeeded former president, as an untrained teacher in both Mukima and
ever dreamed of, the first-time legislator Mwai Kibaki, as MP for the coveted Othaya Chita Primary Schools in Nyeri.
states. Constituency. When I decided to contest for The soft-spoken Mary had barely taught

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for two years when she quit. Her father had I was assisting them, I should continue from campaign, supporters can be paid off to
died. With her little savings at the Post Office a political platform, she notes. She grabbed say anything about an aspirant but my best
Bank, she bought a farm at Ol Kalou and the opportunity and announced her interest weapon was silence, she recalls. She lauds
started farming. She later bought another in the seat. As she puts it, she was shocked her friends in politics, including Rachel
farm in Othaya where her business started to know how politics can be tiring and Shebesh and Beth Mugo who gave her moral
flourishing. I bought cows and engaged overwhelming. I was used to charity work support to soldier on. Beth is my friend and
workers and soon I was doing very well in but in the political campaign, I realised I used to consult her many times, she said.
business, she recollects. I was no match financially with the other Her worst experience, she says, was after she
It is however her involvement in charity contenders. had won the nomination but realised that her
work that brought the MP fame. After her As if that was not enough, her opponents certificate had been given to someone else.
business picked up well, she started giving challenged her education in court. This, I stormed the IEBC offices demanding an
donations to schools, hospitals, churches and Mary confesses, was something she had not explanation until I got the certificate, she
other charitable institutions. She recalls one thought about as she entered the political notes, adding that she felt humiliated.
time when the Othaya Dairy Farmers Society field. She jumped the hurdle easily thanks to a Mary is glad to settle in her office after
where she is a member, was on the verge of teacher who had taken her through secondary winning protracted court battles with one of
being auctioned for a Ksh3million loan and education as a private student. The politician her opponents. She did not have time to do
she offered to bail it out. I paid the loan has also done other simple administrative much during the case in which her opponent
and through my friends and well-wishers, we courses privately. This experience has had challenged her election claiming that the
were able to even pay the workers and enable motivated me to promote education for all process had been marred by irregularities
the society to stand on its feet again, she the youth in my constituency, she affirms. and electoral malpractices. The initial
happily notes. She secures scholarships for bright students petition at the high court was dismissed, but
With reputation from her charity work, through Mama Winnie Foundation, and gives her opponent appealed the decision at the
Othaya people elected Mary the secretary of bursaries through CDF. Court of Appeal, where she lost the case. The
Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation at the Most of the Othaya MPs supporters were MP was however reinstated by the Supreme
district level, serving them from 1976 to the women who had known her generosity and Court.
1980s. She remains a life member. She also concern for the youth. The youth also played The resilient legislator observes that the
started the Mama Winnie Foundation. This a great role in mobilising people for her cultural belief that women are not worth
is a platform where I assist those who are during the political campaign, which Mary political leadership is a thing of the past.
in need. I have paid school fees for scores refers to as a nightmare. She attributes her She urges men to support women who wish
of university students and feed hundreds of sailing through to her fear of God. During to get into politics. This will enable more
orphans and vulnerable children, she says. It women aspirants to contest in future general
was no wonder that the MP donated her first elections. Marys caution to any woman who
salary as legislator to the youth to boost their wishes to vie for a political seat: Block your
business in motor cycle transport. Block your ears and ears and be focused. Dont be intimidated by
Her political eyes were opened when the be focused. Dont insults and false accusations as you will lose
then President and MP for Othaya, Kibaki, your track, she concludes.
retired and the seat was declared vacant. She
be intimidated by Hon Wambui is a member of the
considered the good work that the former insults and false Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives
MP had done and thought that she was in accusations as you Committee and the Constitution
the best position to continue with it. Many Implementation Oversight Committee, as
people approached me saying that because
will lose your track. well as KEWOPA.

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H
on Millie Odhiambo-
Mabona is an achiever.
I grew up liking
challenges I beat boys
in class and they cried.
Always, she recalls.
Her lifes journey is a
bold painting of a woman who will pursue
any dream to its successful end. Millie first
thought about becoming Mbita MP at age 13.
Of course I pushed the thought aside, she
laughs, adding, Otherwise I would have vied
for the seat immediately after high school.
Years of consistent work as a lawyer,
womens and childrens rights activist earned
the graduate of the Universities of Nairobi and
New York, awards. Millie started her career as
a state counsel at the State Law Office, followed
by the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya
(FIDA-K) as a legal officer, the Association of
Women in Development, Coalition on Violence
Against Women (COVAW) and the Caucus for
Womens Leadership.
The CRADLE is one of the MPs dreams
come true. She founded the organisation
that promotes the rights of children, in
1997. The CRADLE has offered legal aid to
children and women; mentored young women
MILLIE ODHIAMBO
on leadership, life-skills and career choice;
advocated and lobbied government for legal
MBITA
reform and human rights mainstreaming.
Millie received the YWCA Democracy Award,
the Eve Woman of the Year Award for Human that time, the passionate supporter of ODM The hard work bore great returns and
Rights and Gender, and an acknowledgment Party realised that its presidential campaign Millie got nominated into parliament, but a
in 2006, by then US Senator, Barack Obama, was not going well. She mobilised more few people thought she had been unfairly
during his visit to Kenya. than 20 ODM MPs to heighten the partys nominated. Women have to be prepared
In 2006, Millies younger brother and a campaign, and with the approval of party their success is always viewed as coming
friend, requested her to help the then Mbita leaders, Millie initiated and financed the through below-the-belt activities, the straight
MP, Hon Otieno Kajwang, with his campaign. Western Kenya Presidential Campaign that talking politician says. The passionate lawyer
Millie, who had never engaged in politics, consolidated political activities in most of who had served as a delegate at the Bomas
was baffled and reluctant, but relented and Nyanza and Western Provinces, parts of of Kenya, during the constitutional drafting
became Kajwangs chief manager. At about Nairobi and the North Rift regions. process says that served as my political

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tipping point! It propelled me to the public she passed away before that, Millie remembers
forum, and I could feel myself moving towards somberly. The familys grief became fodder for
a different arena.
I know that in her political opponents. It took a toll on my
But that was not her first brush with politics. politics there are family, she says remorsefully.
Much earlier, in 1983, Millie who grew up in no permanent Apart from learning about soft power
Homabay Town watched with fascination as from Phoebe Asiyo, Millie learnt to be tough
Hon Phoebe Asiyo beat the late Okiki Amayo in enemies; but that is from Martha Karua. From Charity Ngilu,
Karachuonyo Constituency election. Okiki was also true in life. she learnt elegance and ambition, and from
then very powerful, perhaps second in power Madeline Albright, how to exercise authority
only to President Moi. Watching Phoebe beat him with modesty. Her greatest inspiration,
in an election, even after he had demanded for her husband, friends and relatives, Millies her mother, taught her godliness, strength,
a recount, and seeing him break down in tears, closest challenger outspent her more than generosity, empathy, proactivity and
was intriguing. I admired Phoebes power. My ten times. She almost got grounded during forgiveness. I know that in politics there are
interest in politics was pricked, Millie relates. the campaign, and advises women to start no permanent enemies; but that is also true in
Since her election, Hon Odhiambo saving ten years before getting into elective life, she witnesses. Millie has written a book
has started various SACCOs to enable politics. Millie believes that by not supporting for women in politics: Politics Unpackaged:
her constituents participate in diversified her in the election, ODM squandered its only Lessons for Aspiring Women Politicians.
agriculture and fishing. She has also started opportunity to make history. I ended up as Millie initiated the Maiden Institute of
training and entrepreneurship opportunities the only elected ODM female MP. Leadership, Legal Innovation and Education
for youth in catering, tailoring, driving and According to her, elective politics is (Millie Institute), through which she mentors
mechanics. For the continuity of the rich Suba murky. It is one thing to teach women about girls in leadership. She also initiated the
and Luo cultures, Millie has started cultural political leadership, and another to have Women and Girls Education and Development
events that will bring the youth and the old them get involved. You plunge in there and Initiative that focuses on girls education,
together. suddenly discover that youre on your own, especially in marginalised areas and Nyanza.
To Millie, winning the Mbita Parliamentary she says, adding, My greatest investment was Her experience in social work has seen
seat by more than 7000 votes was sweet. on anti-rigging, not even campaigns. From her effectively lobby for the enactment of laws
Her nomination was ugly and bloody, and experience, Millie knew that her opponents that protect women and childrens rights.
she was denied the nomination certificate would try to rig her out. She also picked her She initiated the Sexual Offences Act long
after winning. She confronted reluctant battles wisely and surprised her opponents with before her nomination to parliament, and
party officials and got it. The campaigns her tactics. Where they expected confrontation, had former MP (now Judge) Njoki Ndungu,
that followed were packed with propaganda, she used soft power, a motherly power that push it through parliament till its enactment.
backstabbing, cunning and dishonesty from draws everyone to you. She danced a lot and Millie is also behind the Childrens Act, the
people who were closest to her. Until you spoke softly with a smile. Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill, and has
experience such things, you cant say youve On top of all the challenges, Millies more recently drafted the Victim Protection
been in politics, she notes. Her opponents greatest loss was her mother, who was worried Bill, the Child Justice Bill, and the In Vitro-
claimed she was a foreigner because she has by her decision to contest in the election. Fertilization Bill, among others.
been married to Zambian hotelier, Magugu Millies father twice attempted to vie for Millies political achievements continue to
Mabona, for seven years. the same seat in the 1970s, and died under grow. ODM Party nominated her to represent
The absence of ODM support was also mysterious circumstances. With that history, the Kenyan Parliament at the Pan-African
painful. Were she not a fighter, Millie When mom panicked, some of my siblings Parliament, based in South Africa. With these
says she would have given up. Although tried to talk me out of my decisionwe agreed achievements, Millie is fulfilled. Ive achieved
she invested heavily, with the support of to take her abroad until after the election, but my core goals as a leader, she says.

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relocated to Taveta and transferred Naomi


and her siblings to Mahoo Primary School
in Taveta. This marked the beginning of her
interaction with the Taveta people, who have
thrice elected her to Parliament. I knew
there were many ways to be important and
walk with dignity and respect while serving
the Taveta people, but becoming an MP,
leave alone a cabinet minister, never flashed
through my mind, she notes.
The 51-year-old legislator recalls how
an elegant lady amazed her at a funeral
she attended with her grandmother. To her
grandmothers embarrassment and everyones
amazement, the then 10-year-old Naomi
approached the lady and introduced herself.
That was when I made up my mind that I
would become a respectable leader in my
community like her. She later discovered that
the lady was Lydia Mnene, a former executive
secretary with the Housing Finance Company.
Lydia remained friends with Naomi,
mentored and helped her get a job at
the Housing Finance Corporation after

NAOMI SHABAN
completing school at Butere Girls High
School. I was a clerk but made many friends
from different organisations through who I got
jobs for many young men and women in my
TAVETA community, she says. Coming from a family
with medical background, Naomi is also a

C
dental surgery graduate of the University of
onfident, authoritative and Brought up in Mombasa by her Nairobi. Medical practice is the best way to
a woman of her words: grandparents, as her widowed mother worked serve ones community, she reckons.
meet Hon Naomi Namsi in Nairobi, the first born of four recalls When she completed her internship at
Shaban, the MP for Taveta playing the role of father and mother to her Kenyatta National Hospital and later sat
and a former Minister for siblings. She had to set an example and in the hospitals board for 71/2 years, she
Gender, Children and practise dependability if her siblings were ensured that many youth from her community
Social Development, and to admire and obey her. My voice alone joined the Kenya Medical Training College.
Special Programmes. I chose to command got everyone doing homework or revision, Little did she know that she was rising to
respect and walk in authority when I was barely she recounts. That same voice characterises prominence. She became the first woman
12-years-old, and Ive grown up acknowledging Naomi as a political icon. MP from the entire Taita-Taveta region.
myself as a leader, she states. When her grandfather retired, he The entry into politics of the now

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mother of two came with challenges. Naomi goons attempted to throw her three-year-old across the world. The humorous MP states that
remembers December 28, 2000 as her baby into a pit latrine. If my house-help her promise to the Taveta people has never
political birthday. Several elderly women were not brave enough to shield the baby changed over the years: I promise never
at her Taveta hometown informed her with her own body, I would have lost the to lie to you. She argues that promising
that Taveta people needed her leadership child, she narrates. She regretted joining silver and gold, which one cannot deliver,
in Parliament in 2002. The God fearing politics, especially after her grandmother is tantamount to robbing the people of their
legislator of the Muslim faith told the who brought her up suffered a stroke after votes. However, she has managed to acquire
women she needed to seek Gods guidance witnessing the wickedness of that day. But land from the government and resettled her
first. In amusement today, she recounts that it was too late for me to back off, she smiles. constituents. She has been instrumental in
both Christians and Muslims teamed up The legislator appreciates that she has sponsoring scores of bright learners within
in prayer and fasting amidst her mothers received several parliamentary preparation Taveta to colleges and universities, and
opposition. Coincidentally in 2001, the then trainings from the Women Political Caucus is a member of the board of governors of
MP for Taveta resigned before term and a and individuals like Hon Phoebe Asiyo. She different high schools.
by-election beckoned. appreciates leaders like Hon Beth Mugo, During her term as the Minister for
Although she was not keen to vie for Zipporah Kittony and Jane Kiano; who went Special Programmes in 2008, the country
the seat, Naomi developed an interest out of their way to support her. Beth Mugo experienced a long drought, and as she puts
when Taveta elders refused to support a gave a fuel donation while Zipporah gave it, the mother in her ensured that Kenyans
female candidate, warning that they would materials for my campaign, she shares. She did not starve. That was the year many
intimidate her if she dared to vie. KANU trusts that her maiden entry into politics Kenyans got internally displaced, many
was the major party in Taveta and to gain during the by-election was the best way others lost their lives in a fire at Nakumatt
ground, I had to use it oblivious of the to learn. I lost a lot. My feminine dignity Supermarket, and at Sachangwan. I did my
danger I was exposing my family and I to, was trampled on; but my political vigour best in disaster management, especially at a
she says. Although KANU national leaders was revitalised, she says. Naomi prides time when the country was recovering from
supported her, Taveta elders remained in having sailed through the last general political skirmishes, she says, adding that
hostile and prejudiced and thwarted her election and retained her seat since 2002. settling IDPs had the most disputes.
nomination. She had to move at lightning Hon Shabans biggest achievement as Her advice to women who want to
speed to register with Ford Kenya and meet a minister was the launch of the African venture into politics: You dont wake up
the nomination deadline. Meanwhile the Womens Decade, which was held in October one morning and become a politician. She
KANU leaders started to negotiate with 2010, attracting over 3,000 participants from stresses the need to start early and make
her but she was already committed to Ford a name within the community long before
Kenya. I had suddenly become a political publicly announcing plans to vie. Never
hot cake! she chuckles. underestimate other contestants; always
Naomi did not win the seat that prepare to fight a giant! she advises.
time, but the experience heightened her Never Taveta people will soon have a modern
determination. One of her worst experiences one-stop immigration department at the
in politics was the day before the by- underestimate Kenya-Tanzania border, thanks to Shaban.
election. Thugs had been hired to harass other contestants; A modern market stands on the same
me but my supporters hid me in a vehicle land, and like she states, it will enhance
always prepare to
boot and retaliated, causing a real war. The Tavetas economy and create employment
national and international media broadcast fight a giant! opportunities for the youth in the community.
that episode! she recounts. Pausing in I am determined to make a city in Taveta,
deep thought, the bold MP recalls how she states with confidence.

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Born in Oloitiko Village, Kajiado County,


into a polygamous family with deep rooted
Maasai culture, Peris had no choice but to
embrace the culture. What else would a
typical Maasai girl hold dearer than her
culture? she quips. With time however, as
Peris elevated into academic success, she
became an opponent of any cultural habit that
defied human respect and dignity. Culture
is adorable, but only when it does not abuse
human self-worth or force harmful tendencies
down anyones throat, she points out.
The third born in a family of 14, Peris had
a quiet yet well calculated childhood. She
does not believe in shouting to be heard. I
believe in fighting challenges unobtrusively
and giving results the best way I can, Peris
asserts. She never liked feminine chores like
cooking, fetching firewood or drawing water,
but preferred herding cows and goats, which
was to her more masculine and quieter.
At six years, Peris joined Mashulu Primary
School and proved to be exemplary and
determined to excel, thus becoming every

PERIS TOBIKO
teachers darling. My dream was to join the
university one day, says Peris who holds a
Masters Degree in International Relations.
As she grew older, she desired to become a
KAJIADO EAST judge to jail those who married off their
young daughters, because her own father had

S
tried to marry her off three times during her
primary, secondary and high school education.
he wrestled five men in adults and children finding her warm and Were it not for the intervention of my head
the last general election to approachable. She drops various names of teacher and kind women in the village, plus
emerge the first female MP her constituents in conversation, a sign that my determination to study, I would have been
in the history of the Maasai she knows hundreds of them at personal level. married off to an older man whose first wife
Community. Hon Peris Pesi Peris enthusiastically defends the vulnerable was barren, she recalls, adding, The thought
Tobiko is a calm, friendly among her people, something she has done still sends chills down my spine.
and strong representative since her youth. I will halt any business to The mother of four is amused that she
of the Kajiado East Constituency. She address the plight of a person who has been now serves the men who were her suitors on
is a household name in her area, with denied justice, states Hon Tobiko. a different platform, as their MP. Instead

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of cooking and bearing children for them, consultative. Her major supporters were the
I now represent them in Parliament! the youth and women. She confesses that her
jovial politician laughs. She remembers I respect nomination greatest challenge was handling gender
negotiating with her father the first time he and the affirmative discrimination. Her father and her husband
tried to marry her off: Allow me to sit for were her key campaigners and they silenced
the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE)
action for women, anyone who tried to intimidate Peris on
examination and if I fail, Ill marry him, but I strongly feel account of her gender.
she remembers. This gave her the strength to that I need to fight it The MP has since embarked on
study hard, emerging among the best pupils empowering women to actively participate
in Kenya that year. Seeing her name and out with men to be in development activities within the
face in newspapers mesmerised the girl who gratified. constituency. She has already established
had never been to Nairobi before and was several boreholes and has helped several
now being interviewed and photographed bright girls get bursaries to complete their
by enormous cameras. studies. The legislator says that her notion
Peris joined Moi Girls High School, Officer for Embu, Peris envisioned a future about feminine events has never changed and
Isinya, in Kajiado County, and vowed to where she would be serving her people in an rarely will you see her in weddings, baby-
beat the elderly men at their own game by open forum. She later worked at the Ministry showers or womens groups. Meanwhile, Peris
qualifying for high school. She joined Moi of Agriculture as an Assistant Secretary, is ready for the next general election where
High School, Kabarak, where her career a period within which she enrolled for a she will defend her seat. I respect nomination
started shaping up. My goal was to join Masters Degree in International Relations and the affirmative action for women, but I
university and henceforth condemn early at the University of Nairobi. She explains strongly feel that I need to fight it out with
marriages, she says. She teamed up with that she has never enjoyed working in the men to be gratified! Peris advises fellow
other serious minded girls at the school and confinement of an office, not even when she women leaders never to be intimidated by
christened themselves policy-makers. was a Benefit Manager at NSSF in 1995. their male counterparts. They are colleagues
At the University of Nairobi where When she left that job, Peris knew that she and we have to fight for elective seats not
she pursued a degree in Political Science, had a future in politics. against them but with them, she states.
the MP made up her mind to fight early Kajiado East constituents know that Peris A member of KEWOPA, the MP believes
marriage in Maasai land, a challenge that is an advocate for fairness and justice, as that the resources used to empower women
she believed surpassed the others the girls testified by her service in various school are well spent. She received training from
faced. Being married off to an elderly man boards. Her family was least surprised AMWIK and CREW in preparation for
whom you dont love is a nightmare I had when in 2007 she announced her intention Parliament. I owe my good rapport with my
to battle, she narrates. She was inspired in to vie for a parliamentary seat. Although colleagues and constituents to the trainings
her cause because one of the elderly men she did not make it then, she took it as a I got, she affirms. She is also a member of
who had wanted to marry her later married phenomenal experience to learn from and Pastoralist Parliamentary Group that seeks to
her younger sister. To make her case against to prepare for the next general election. end cattle rustling, banditry and clan-based
early marriage stronger, Peris got married I used the following five years gathering conflict, and sits in the joint Parliamentary
to a young man of her choice, while at the momentum and learning from the mistakes Committee on National Cohesion and Equal
university. With my husband by my side, I had made earlier, she says. Peris had Opportunity, as well as the Parliamentary
I knew I could speak against the vice with no trouble choosing her party as her mind Labour and Social Welfare Committee.
authority and dignity, she says. was already made for TNA. Her manifesto Periss election was petitioned by a losing
During her first job as the District was loud: fairness, participatory and contender, but she won the case.

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A
fter a teaching stint at
the recently elevated
South Eastern Kenya
University (SEKU)
and previously at the
Kenyatta University,
37-year-old Dr Rachael
Nyamai surprised many when, as a
novice, she contested and easily won
the Kitui South Parliamentary seat in
the 2013 General Election. Her win was
not only a surprise because she was a
first timer in elective politics, but also
because she ran for the parliamentary
seat on a NARC Party ticket in an area
that had fanatical following for the Wiper
Democratic Movement Party. She opted
for NARC because its leader, Charity
Ngilu, was championing for women
candidates and motivating them to
vie for positions. Although the Wiper
Democratic Movement Party was more
popular, it cheated me out of the seat,
she says.
As she talks about her bid for the
Kitui South seat, the legislator expresses
her admiration for Ngilu and her style
of politics. I was inspired by Ngilu to
RACHAEL NYAMAI
join elective politics. She has been my
role model since my days in school. For
KITUI SOUTH
20 years, she worked hard as the only
female politician in a region full of men,
something that inspired me more, says the Wiper wave in Ukambani, Ngilu lost assistant chief, Rachael learned at a
the MP. Rachael is the first woman to run her quest for the Kitui Senatorial seat to tender age, to fight hard for whatever she
for the Kitui South Parliamentary seat, Wipers David Musila. There was much desired. The virtue of fighting hard for
and was viewed as disadvantaged during exhilaration when Rachael braved the whatever I wanted was instilled in me at
the campaigns. This is because she was strong Wiper wave to garner 18,401 votes a very young age, and as such, battling
running on a political party whose leader against Wiper candidates 13,175 votes. out with the seven other male candidates
had long standing and bruising rows The other six male candidates came for the Kitui South seat was no big deal
with then Vice President and Wiper Party trailing. to me, she confesses. Although her
leader, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka. Due to Having been born to a polygamous opponents tried to portray her as a project

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of Ngilu, Rachael worked hard to prove provide adequate safe water in Kitui before joining Kenyatta University for her
her independence. As Ngilus political South Constituency. Other pledges Bachelors degree in Education.
protg, she was clearly the engine of included reducing food insecurity by Although she is yet to move any Motion
the Jubilee Alliance campaigns in Kitui harnessing water for irrigation, as well since joining Parliament, Rachael promises
South. as fair and equitable distribution of CDF to aggressively and actively contribute
With Ngilus coaching, Rachael was projects across the vast constituency. to debates. She is keen on supporting
able to work her way through elective I am working in collaboration with and moving Motions that positively
politics. She started preparing for her some NGOs to improve the welfare and impact Kenyans, and particularly her
campaigns early. I started campaigning living standards of my constituents, constituents. As the chairperson of the
in 2009, soon after completing my she discloses. She is the chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Health,
PhD, she states. She interacted with Kaki Foundation, an outfit she is using Rachael plans to initiate two Motions that
voters through the social media, to mobilise funds for development if passed, will see major changes in the
telephone calls and text messages. She projects as well as to finance education management of HIV/AIDS and Diabetes.
also attended many social gatherings, of learners who cannot afford it. Rachael, One of the Motions will seek to have all
national celebrations and educational who appreciates the transforming power persons visiting hospitals screened for
functions. Part of the financial support of education, has a Masters degree in diabetes, in an effort to initiate early
for her campaign came from the Jubilee Sociology of Education, and a PhD treatment and save lives. The other one
Alliance that also gave her vehicles to from the Danish School of Education, will seek the formation of the National
ease her travel. Rachael also had the University of Aarhus in Denmark. She did Aids Authority to manage HIV/AIDS in
full financial and moral support of her her earlier education at Kyatune Primary the country. She would also like to see the
husband and family. Juggling between and Muthale Girls Secondary Schools, Ministry of Health Budget increased from
the duties of my young family and hitting Ksh6 billion to Ksh10 billion to reduce
the campaign trail was tough, she says. the challenges in the health sector. Rachel
Rachael also had the support of youth also sits in the Housekeeping Liaison
and women, whose lives she has pledged The virtue of Committee, Labour and Social Welfare
to work hard to improve. Committee and the National Cohesion
fighting hard for and Equal Opportunities Committee.
Like other female politicians, Rachael
had to fight off stereotypical wars, whatever I wanted Being her first time in Parliament,
insults and threats by her opponents. was instilled in me Rachael found operations of the August
I was not violently assaulted but House, particularly the Standing Orders,
some of my supporters were physically
at a very young age, difficult to master. KEWOPA and her
attacked. Besides, my competitors hauled and as such, battling teaching experience at SEKU University
unprintable insults at me, and I received out with the seven however helped her adjust quickly. The
threats of rape and death, which forced women parliamentarians body also
me to beef up my security. I boldly other male candidates taught her how to brand herself. Rachael
soldiered on and Im glad that I did, for the Kitui South seat hopes that more female leaders will join
she relates. Parliament. Run for elective positions
was no big deal to me. in large numbers, she urges women
Her campaign pledges were to
improve the standard of education, and aspiring to join politics.

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home in large numbers, she says. The


MP cannot count the number of times
that she attended her fathers campaign
rallies and political meetings discreetly,
just to admire what he was doing. By the
time she was leaving home, Regina knew
she would one time become a politician.
Married in Kilome Constituency,
Regina first tried her hand in a political
contest in 2007. Vying against seasoned
politicians like Harun Mwau, she
discovered that this kind of leadership
was different from any other that she had
tested. The MP was a prefect in primary
and secondary school, and the head of a
house while in college, but that did not
give her enough preparation to contest
against 22 male candidates, including
Mwau. She may not have clinched the
seat then, but ranking third was a great
encouragement for the first timer who had
contested on a NARC ticket. Ironically,
her interest in the seat drew more men
into the contest.

REGINA NTHAMBI
With those results, Regina felt inspired
to work harder, hopeful for victory
in her second attempt. The Nairobi

KILOME businesswoman did not rest after the 2007


elections, but started to work closely with

H
the people of Kilome, and did so till the
2013 elections. I literally camped on the
on Regina Nthambi political leadership at a tender age, ground for the five years, working closely
Muia is the first having been raised by a father who was with the youth and women, she says.
female to be elected a counselor for three terms in one of As the sales director of a company she
as MP for Kilome the wards in Kitui Constituency. What started with her husband and children,
Constituency. In captivated Regina was the respect he it was easy to take time away from her
fact, no other woman commanded from the people. I found it job in Nairobi to work on the ground in
has ever contested interesting that people respected him so Kilome. The constituents wanted to know
the seat. Regina developed interest in much that they would visit him daily at who I was and why I wanted to run for

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the seat, and so I had to work closely with so much they called her Mama. They
them, she said. also acted as her security personnel,
In the five years, she initiated several protecting her during the campaigns.
development projects, among others, My opponents feared them and would
sponsoring needy learners from the not dare intimidate or threaten me when
constituency in seven national schools By 2013 general I was with them, she recalls happily.
and universities. Her passion and election, I did not Other than that, she planned her time so
compassion for the constituents, with well so that all her political meetings
need to declare
whom she connected so well, endeared ended before 6pm. Her public declaration
her to them. By 2013 general election, I my interest in of faith in God also drew her immense
did not need to declare my interest in the the seat but the support from the local church.
seat with the constituents persuading me Regina has adjusted to her new role
constituents
to become Kilomes next MP, she states. in the National Assembly, and enjoys the
She contested on a Wiper Democratic persuading me to experience. Some of the goals she has
Movement ticket, also serving as the become Kilomes set to deliver for her constituents are to
partys chairperson at the grassroots and provide consistent access to clean water
next MP.
secretary for social security at the national and electricity, and to upgrade health
level. This time she contested against 14 facilities. She welcomes the governments
men and came top with 12,741 votes. Her plan to provide school going children
closest contender had about 6,000 votes. with laptops as it is consistent with her
Of the challenges women face in the own goal to introduce at least one fully
campaign trail, lack of finances was not humiliation from her male opponents, equipped computer laboratory in every
one of Reginas problems, but the Kilome Regina notes. Male challengers always secondary school in her constituency.
MP faced numerous others. Insecurity try to find their female counterparts She also plans to empower women and
and socio-cultural barriers were rife in weaknesses to use against them; so be the youth economically, to increase their
her journey. Intimidation from her male ready for that. Be ready also for abusive social status.
opponents and their female supporters language, which can even get violent, Regina is determined to deliver on all
was the most dominant. They claimed she adds. She advises future female the promises she made to the people of
that I would not represent them well since aspirants to remain focused on their Kilome Constituency. I have a task to
I was born in a different constituency. It goals for the community and work on prove to the people represent in Parliament
can be intimidating when men fight you winning the voters confidence. Dont - that they did not make a wrong choice,
from various ends, calling you names allow yourself to be derailed. Dont she says, knowing very well how to
and mobilising fellow women to insult respond to insults, but concentrate on balance her role on the ground, and in
you, but I endured it and rejoiced at the your development agenda as you ignore the House. She sits in the Procedure and
outcome, she says, adding that she was all forms of provocation, she advises. House Rules Committee whose mandate is
well prepared for such challenges. Working with the youth turned out to propose rules for orderly and effective
Female political aspirants may not be as a blessing for the motherly legislator. conduct of committee business. She is
as fortunate as she was to have enjoyed Regina forged cordial relationships with also a member of the Administration and
her husbands support, as well as less this group of people who loved her National Security Committee.

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O
ne day in
1982, Catholic
missionaries
returning to Doldol
from a medical
mission, about 25
kilometers away,
discovered a five-year-old girl hiding in
their truck. They were bewildered but
decided that whatever the consequences,
she wouldnt head back home to Kimanjo
Village, but to standard one at the school
they had started at Laikipia. Sara Korere
Paulata turned out to be so bright that
when she sat the Kenya Certificate of
Primary Education examinations seven
years later, she was the second best in
the then Laikipia District. She was offered
a place at Moi High School, Kabarak, but
her father wouldnt let her go to a place
so far away.
Fortunately, the missionaries sent Sara
to a secondary school they had set up
at Doldol.Two years after completing

SARA KORERE
secondary school, she landed a job at the
Arid Lands Development Programme as
a field assistant. Luck was smiling upon
her and after two years, she applied for
and got admission for a diploma course NOMINATED
at Egerton University. After graduating
she went back to Doldol, awake to the
reality that she had achieved a rarity it. Starting with 39 girls, the schools to the National Assembly, she was the
that not many girls could. This motivated population had grown exponentially and chairperson of the board of governors.
her to start St Francis Girls School in the ministry was glad to run it. At this In her new role, another reality hit
Doldol, with the backing of friends and point, Sara got a job with the Electoral Sara. The Laikipia Maasai did not have
supporters like the Catholic missionaries Commission of Kenya (ECK) as the a political voice. For a long time, she
who had walked with her all this while. District Deputy Elections Coordinator for says, that community had been voiceless
Sara taught at the new school as Laikipia. Still, the community insisted as the larger communities in the county
a volunteer for three years before the that she continues to mentor the school, domineered. It is very unfortunate when
Ministry of Education could recognise and up to the time of her nomination you are in a constituency and you have

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a vote but you know that vote doesnt Sara initially wanted to campaign might need bursaries, or direct resources
count, she says. Laikipia was initially for the position of the Womens for the needs she identifies.In the five
divided into East and West Laikipia Representative for her county, but after years of her term, Sara has three priorities
Constituencies, and later North Laikipia thorough groundwork she realised that and all of them are education. Where I
Constituency was hived off the two. the political reality was not on her side. have come from, a lot has changed. But
When Sara joined politics in 2011, she My community represents less than 10 I cant say that change is enough, she
became one of the people who pushed percent of the population of Laikipia, says.
for the creation of the Laikipia North and I must say, I enjoyed the support of As a development conscious legislator,
Constituency to cater for the minorities the younger generation from the Kikuyu Sara is angry that her community
in Laikipia. I come from that minority Community, but my party affiliation and continues to practice Female Genital
group, the Laikipia Maasai, she says. As alignment were a big predicament, she Mutilation (FGM) when others have
the Deputy District Elections Coordinator, says.Sara took the bold step to negotiate abandoned it. She says FGM and early
she knew the intricacies of the population with her party, URP, to nominate her as marriage are connected and if anything
and the voting patterns, and noticed a representative of a minority community, is to be done to improve the lives of
that without another constituency, her and she succeeded. girls in her community, FGM has to
communitys voice would probably never According to her, life in Parliament be eradicated. Sara believes that even
be heard. She initiated the move to create is tough. Juggling motherhood, and her if education is free, more effort needs
the new constituency and she is happy work in Nairobi and her constituency, is to be put to make it accessible to all.
that it was successful. tough. As a mother, her child is priority. For I will lobby the county government to
During her tenure at the ECK, Sara instance, her child had been hospitalised start small feeder schools and low-cost
interacted a lot with politicians, voters for six days, just before this interview. As boarding schools to help keep children
and community leaders. This advised her an MP, the youth in her county look up to from pastoralist communities in school,
move to the civil society movement. At that her, and so do the women, yet Sara is not she states.
point, she realised that if her communitys often facilitated to meet their needs. Like Sara believes that KEWOPA has
life was to improve, she needed to be other nominated MPs, she has no control programmes that will address the needs
at the legislative level, where she could over the Constituency Development Fund, of women legislators as they continue to
influence policy-making. In 2009 Sara and cannot therefore help those who work together. We are still new in this
had travelled to the University of Georgia place and as we get to know each other,
in the United States, where she took a we are going to get ways to operate, she
short course in women and leadership. says.Like fellow first-time MPs, she is still
It actually inspired me to venture into learning the Standing Orders and the
politics, she says. When she came back, I come from a operations of Parliament.
she got involved in educating voters on community where Sara is a member of the Lands
the Kenya Constitution of 2010. I come Committee, and the Regional Integration
from a community where ignorance is ignorance is a real Committee. The MP believes that
a real menace, she says. And Im in manace. fellow female MPs should help their
politics to change the way things are in female constituents to take advantage
my community and the country. I didnt of appropriate government programmes
think there would be an opportunity like such as the Women Enterprise Fund and
the one I have now, she says. the Uwezo Fund, to grow their businesses.

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I
n September 2011, a fire
destroyed homes and killed
over a hundred people in a slum
in Nairobis industrial area.
The accident happened very
close to an electro-mechanical
engineering company, Turn-O-
Metal Engineering. Nominated Member
of Parliament, Sunjeev Birdi, who then
worked at this family property, witnessed
the appalling sights. Deeply touched
by the suffering people underwent, she
resolved to do something to help. I saw
people suffer helplessly because they
could not afford to go to hospital. They
were burned, tattered, and desperate, and
this went on for days, she recalls.She
has great admiration for her parents who
are largely philanthropic. My father has
always ensured that the people around
him are catered for. Being kind is always
a blessing, she reflects.
Three days after the tragedy, Sunjeev,
who is popularly known as Sonia, ventured
into the slum and later went to Tom
Mboya Hall, along Jogoo Road, where
survivors of the fire were temporarily
SUNJEEV BIRDI
sheltered. The pain and anguish she
witnessed in the hall was unimaginable. NOMINATED
Sonia made a list of the survivors
requirements and mobilised support
from the Asian community. She started Makadara Parliamentary Seat during the parents finally decided to support her,
working closely with the District Officer 2013 elections. she was happy.
for Makadara, the Kenya Red Cross, and Sonias parents were not very receptive Born and raised in Kenya, the first
the Sinai Slum community. Within weeks, of her idea to venture into politics because born in a family of five went to Our Lady
Sonia had become a household name in of fears over her safety. She respected their of Mercy Primary School and later Loreto
the slum. It therefore did not surprise her stand because she believes that family High School, Msongari, before proceeding
when in April 2012 a delegation from the blessings and support are important in to Sheffield Hallam University in England,
community approached her to vie for the any venture, especially politics. When her for her MBA.Sonia draws inspiration from

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her mother, as she believes that its more as soon as the electricity was installed.
practical to get inspired by people you Echoing the Jubilee Government laptop
interact closely with, and not those in the project, Sonia emphasises the need to
media. I communicate with my mother It is a pity that the embrace technology because there will
and feel her all the time, Sonia stresses. culture of money be no development without technology.
When she stepped into politics, the The MP finds herself in an awkward
is so deeply rooted situation where she hardly knows half of
people of Makadara suggested that
she joins URP and work with its leader, that the electorate the 349 MPs, yet they all know her. She
William Ruto. She did not have adequate do not appreciate is optimistic that by the end of her first
resources to campaign but still made the term she will have known and interacted
donations made in with all of them. She exudes confidence
attempt.The MP immediately identified
unemployment, especially among the kind. in her plan and vision because she feels
youth, as the biggest challenge in blessed. The position is an absolute
Makadara. She started her campaign miracle that I intend to use well to serve
by using the only resource she had, her as a good, intelligent and informed
skills - to teach the young people how hard for the National Executive Council legislator, she says. Sonia is focused
to write CVs. She recalls making trips of URP, crisscrossing the country on advocating for availlability of water
into Sinai Slum on foot, and addressing campaigning for the party. She supported in all communities because water is life.
the electorate from the three tier wooden the plans and vision of the Jubilee Alliance She has a notice of motion on the state of
platform that her father had built for her. because it addressed womens issues on dams in the country. Sonia also advocates
It is a pity that the culture of money representation, poverty eradication, and for environmental conservation and is
is so deeply rooted that the electorate technology. passionate about better infrastructure
do not appreciate donations made in Community development is important to improve the working conditions of
kind. Everyone just wanted money, she to the nominated leader who knows that Makadara residents. The constituency
laments. education is one of the main ways to contributes widely to the countrys
Gratefully, the political team Sunjeev develop a community. One of the key economy through its high number of
worked with had lots of experience and things she recalls doing was to have industries and workforce.
guided her accordingly. She recalls how a transformer installed at St. Marys In parliament, Soniaserves in the
tedious the nomination exercise was, and Viwandani Education Centre in industrial Procedure and House Rules Committee, the
how she maintained her commitment area, to give steady power supply to the Constitution Implementation Oversight
to party values because she had been school and neighbouring areas. The school Committee, and the Environment and
promised nomination. She worked very received a donation of 60 computers Natural Resources Committee.

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which impacted on her life positively.


She attended Coast Academy for her
primary education before joining Legae
Academy in Gaborone, Botswana, where
her father worked as an expatriate
electrical engineer. She later graduated
with a Bachelor of Social Science in
Development and Social Transformation
from the University of Cape Town in
South Africa. She specifically chose
to study in South Africa to learn more
about the suffering of black people, and
to understand the intricacies that drove
the apartheid system. She looks back and
confesses that it was a very necessary
experience in her life because she
went through the stages of anger over
apartheid and then accepted it.
Zuleikha knew from the onset that
she wanted to help alleviate suffering,
especially of young children. She
had initially planned to study child
psychology, but her experience in South
Africa diverted her interests towards social

ZULEIKHA JUMA science, which she saw as an opportunity


to address the plight of many people,
as opposed to psychology that involves
NOMINATED individual cases. Unlike most of her
siblings who chose to relocate to western

T
countries, Zuleikha was determined to
come back home to influence her society
he youthful ODM imagined joining politics when growing positively.
nominated Member of up, her passion and zeal to alleviate When she came back home, Zuleikha
Parliament, Hon Zuleikha suffering seemed intertwined with did not find a job as easily as she had
Juma Hassan, did not political leadership. She takes us through imagined. A professor advised her to
get her nomination on a her journey, with youthful vigor and research on the plight of Muslim women,
silver platter. She had to nostalgia, often bursting into laughter. since she wanted to address issues
fight and unravel political Born 33 years ago, Zuleikha is affecting them. Surprisingly, the research
schemes to become the strategic and grateful that her fathers postings abroad that started with 56 women in Mariakani
proactive person she is. While she never exposed her to a myriad of opportunities, Ward in Kaloleni Constituency, Kilifi

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County, evolved into a movement with her party leadership. It also created the strengthened her resolve to make a
over 2,000 registered members. required bonds and networks with high- difference in peoples lives. Though you
Seeing the soaring numbers, ranking party officials. may not always get what you want and
Zuleikhas father encouraged her to try Asked about her nomination to deserve, you must make the best out of
her hand in politics. She let the 2007 Parliament, Zuleikha declares that she is what you get, says Zuleikha who comes
election pass, but the post-election a good and intelligent student of politics. from the Duruma Community.
violence in 2008 made her realise that She recalls training on strategic thinking Although the first days in the House
she needed to redirect the energy of the where she was educated on mapping and were not easy as she had to learn
youth to more constructive activities and using proxies. The work she did for the Parliamentary Standing Orders on her
thoughts. By this time she had worked party and the people she interacted with own, she is determined to leave a mark at
with several NGOs that either focused were helpful in lobbying for nomination. the end of her term. Lack of a structured
on empowering young Muslim women, or I was not in the first list of nominees, so orientation on Parliamentary proceedings
overall community development. I still I remembered and applied my training made her wish for an association for
felt inadequate because if the legislative on the use of agents, and the power of youthful parliamentarians (currently
environment is not conducive, your right timing and I made it! she states. about 90), to assist new comers into the
interventions are limited, and sometimes The MP received training in the run up House, just like KEWOPA does for its new
you get crippled by government, she to elections from the National Democratic members. Lawyers find it easier to adapt
narrates. At that time, Zuleikha realised Institute, and the Christian Democratic in Parliament because they are trained
the need to influence policy formulation International Centre. to think and debate on their feet, she
from inside, and her fathers earlier The one regret this go-getter has is notes. This learning period has however
encouragement to join politics was a that her party leader, Raila Odinga, did not intimidated Zuleikha to silence. She
logical consideration. not win the presidential election. I am brought a motion seeking to have the
Hon Hassan says that there were many inspired by his political life. I consider government fund the National Youth
attempts by ODM Party officials to rig him a living legend. Hate him or love Council, to encourage the youth to venture
her out of the Kaloleni Constituency him, he is selfless, consistent, diplomatic into fields like agriculture. By engaging
parliamentary seat. When the race became and really, Mweupe kama pamba (white the youth in agriculture, well stem rural-
very tight, and she couldnt be sweet- as snow), she emphasises, raising her urban migration and contribute to food
talked to step down, elders talked to her head to reinforce her words. Some of security, she beams.
father, and only then did they succeed. I the lessons she has learned have only Zuleikhas vision is to see the youth
felt helpless in the hands of patriarchal given a platform to speak and also access
traditional structures and tendencies, economic empowerment. She would also
she says. It was during the national party want to see schools recognise the rights
elections held at the Bomas of Kenya in of Muslim girls with regard to the hijab,
2009 that the constitutional provision I felt helpless in the as well as a conducive environment to
for youth representation opened avenues hands of patriarchal observe the Ramadhan calendar. The
for young Zuleikha. She was elected the MP is the national youth coordinator for
deputy youth leader, a more powerful traditional structures ODM, and a co-founder of the inter-party
role than her previous one as local party and tendencies. youth forum. She also sits in the House
representative. The national position saw Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and
her traverse the country campaigning for Cooperatives.

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3|SENATORS
(NOMINATED)
86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

D
r Agnes Zani, the
nominated Senator for
Kwale County and a
former lecturer at the
University of Nairobi,
has walked in success
and favour since she
was a young girl. I owe nothing to my
efforts though, I believe God paves my
way all through, the staunch Christian of
the Catholic faith reflects. But even as she
speaks about favour, the humorous senator
quips: If a wheelbarrow doesnt have the
front wheel, it would be very difficult to
push it! meaning that the success she
has gained in life is largely due to the
support she has received along the way.
Agnes was born in Mombasa but lived
her early years in Golini, Kwale, before
moving to Mombasa for her studies. The
second of three children born to Zacharia
and Teresa Zani says that education is
her main agenda for the people of Kwale
County. I want to see doctorates coming
from Kwale! remarks Agnes, whose
parents were renowned educationists in
Coast Province.
Agnes recounts how she embraced
integrity from the day she joined Star
AGNES ZANI
of the Sea School where she completed
her primary education in the late 1970s.
As a senator now, she recalls that from and is determined to stand up and defend sociology at the University of Nairobi after
her childhood days, any kind of injustice what she refers to as her marginalised completing her sixth form in Nairobi Girls
to anyone made her hair stand on end. I community. School. She pursued a Masters degree
am surprised that those memories remain Never in her wildest dreams did she at the same university and joined the
to date, she says, recalling a day while in however think that this principle would academic staff in 1993. Nine years later,
primary school, when she physically fought lead her to politics. Although she had Zani went to Oxford University, UK, to
a boy who was fond of bullying girls in the considered studying law to be able to pursue a Master of Science in Philosophy,
school bus. She adds that since that day she exercise her fight-for-justice in a more and a Doctorate in Philosophy, thanks to
has never allowed a man to intimidate her authoritative platform, Agnes studied a scholarship from the Ford Foundation.

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Life in the UK was not easy and often University of Nairobi and was not willing
she longed to be back home. When she to quit. I had also seen my brother vie
did come back, she continued working
Embrace every for elective political positions and fail, so
at the University of Nairobis Sociology opportunity I was not motivated to join politics, she
Department from 2008 until 2013 when and never explains. Her passionate involvement in
she was nominated to the Senate. I gender issues however is what motivated
am now determined to do my best and
underestimate ODM to nominate her to the Senate.
leave a mark when I retire, she says. yourself. When an Agnes had admired the ODM leadership
She embraced philosophy after realising opportunity comes and even identified with the party as she
that her calling was more to respond carried out civic education.
to peoples needs than fight for justice.
your way seize it, it Lamenting that Coast is still
Agnes became a relationship expert later may never come again. underdeveloped, Agnes has embarked
in her career. on empowering women and the youth, in
The scholar says that for the first week a bid to bring the desired development
in the Senate, she was mesmerised. She lack; like many families, we sometimes went in the County. She has started a project
listened to and observed what others were with meager food and were short of other in Kwale where every three months the
saying and doing. The orientation did her necessities as we grew up, she reveals. youth benefit from driving courses, which
a lot of good and barely a month later Although her parents were teachers, Agnes she pays for. She has also started a pilot
she came up with a motion on investment, recalls that due to numerous obligations, project with a womens group, building
seeking to have a percentage of county the family would sometimes go with only rental houses, and hopes to replicate
earnings and resources reinvested in the ugali and fermented milk for dinner. She the project across Kwale. She is also
counties. She is a member of the Rules celebrates her father saying that despite on a mission to eliminate retrogressive
and Business Committee. his financial challenges, he ensured that cultural practices like early marriage
A born leader, Agnes recalls that she his three children got education. This is and violence against women. My father
identified her leadership qualities from something I have emulated today since I never discriminated against women and I
when she was a little girl. In primary support the education of various orphans learned a lot from him, remarks Zani. The
school, I was a prefect for as long as I can and vulnerable children within Kwale development-oriented leader believes that
remember, she says. This is despite the County, she says. She does this through she will assure positive change for her
fact that she was playful and outgoing. the Zani Foundation that gives financial people from her current position, having
Thankfully, my teachers knew that I was a support to bright needy learners. started to work with them long before she
focused student. At the university, Agnes When Kwale residents threatened even considered joining politics.
occasionally acted as the chairperson to boycott the 2013 election during the To women aspiring to join politics, the
of her department and started the Ford infamous Pwani si Kenya unrest, Dr Zani member of the parliamentary associations
Foundation International Fellowships took it upon herself to offer free civic - KEWOPA and KEWOSA (Kenya Women
Alumni Programme, which she has been education to her community. I did this Senators Association), has a word of
chairing since. as a Kenyan with no political agenda, caution: Embrace every opportunity and
Those who are just getting acquainted she says. In the process, and as expected, never underestimate yourself. When an
to Dr Zani today may think that she has some people approached her to vie for a opportunity comes your way seize it, it
always enjoyed the good life, but she political seat, which she declined stating may never come again!
disputes this categorically. I have seen that she was already a lecturer at the

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three never really got to work together, and


PNU later rebranded as the Alliance Party of
Kenya (APK) before the 2013 campaigns began.
In spite of the fact that Kenyatta appeared to
be miles ahead of the remaining leaders of APK
in popularity, with a sophisticated campaign
strategy, Beatrice never attempted to move to
his TNA Party.
I joined APK knowing Kenyatta would be
the alliances presidential candidate. In fact, he
is the one who seconded me as the alliances
interim secretary general, she recalls, adding,
I felt betrayed when PNU failed to hold
together and the leaders started to go their
separate ways. Beatrice remained in APK to
build it into the outfit I desired. Obviously
APK suffered a lot, as TNA went off with much
of the support the alliance previously enjoyed,
leaving APK with support from Meru and Embu
Counties only.
The resilient manager soon figured out
that APK provided an alternative chance to
candidates in Central Kenya who thought
the big parties had treated them unfairly. As
elections drew nearer, Senator Elachi found
herself often left alone to run APK with most

BEATRICE ELACHI
of the partys leaders having to retreat to
their counties to campaign for their elective
seats. There was no one to consult; Party
Leader, Kiraitu Murungi, went to Meru, while

B
his deputy, Lenny Kivuti, disappeared to
Embu where he was running for Senate, she
eatrice Elachi clung to a party she allowed herself to be swayed by the mass remembers. With minimal support from the
that had been abandoned by movement of politicians towards a party that party leaders, the growing number of aspirants
more experienced politicians, promised more, Beatrice would probably not seeking the partys ticket to vie for various seats
and her resilience, motherliness have been in Parliament today. overwhelmed Beatrice who remained strong.
and management skills paid Beatrice was aware that PNU had been When after the election the party got a
off: she got nominated into created to accommodate three politicians: chance to nominate a woman to the Senate,
the Senate, became the former Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka, PNU she was heads higher than any other member.
Houses Majority Chief Whip and the most leader, the late George Saitoti, and Kanu I was elated! It was not something I had
influential woman in the 11th Parliament. Had Chairman, now President Uhuru Kenyatta. The hoped for. Politics is intriguing, and I had

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never contemplated running for an elective she found herself in the Kibaki succession suffered a setback when President Kenyatta
position, she says. Senator Elachis humble intrigues as an active member of PNU. signed the controversial Bill into law, she had
background has bred in her a strong desire Senator Elachis life isnt just about learnt a lesson on the operations of the Senate.
to help the people around her achieve their politics. She is also philanthropic, supporting Senator Elachi believes that she got her
goals. Her past could have easily broken the seven children orphaned by ethnic clashes senatorial seat and the office of the Majority
willpower of any woman, were it not for her in Tana River County. I was emotionally Chief Whip by positioning herself right. I was
perseverance and hope that life had something affected when I visited Kipini, Ozi, Duru and at the right place at the right time, she notes.
better for her. Ngao areas. In Ngao, I met children whose She had wanted to become the Deputy Chief
Brought up in an unstable cross-cultural pregnant mother had been killed. They were Whip but when Elgeyo Marakwet Senator,
family, Beatrices parents separated when she overwhelmed by sorrow and I decided to help Kipchumba Murkomen, moved to head the
was in school, and most needed their support. them, she explains. Three female university Devolution Committee, I said I wanted to go
I had to drop out of Nazarine University students from needy backgrounds run her for the main position and the senators were
where I was studying Social Sciences, in spacious office at KICC. The Senator pays supportive. In this position one must have
order to handle issues at home. I just couldnt them a salary that enables them pay their full support of members, she says. In the
cope, she confides. Being the only girl in the college fees. She is also raising her late sisters Senate, the ever-busy legislator sits in three
family, I was most affected by their separation. children. They are my children. We live as a committees. She is a member of the powerful
I started to understand how marital problems family, she says. Rules and Business Committee, the Finance,
could affect children, she says. Being one of the most active and outspoken Commerce and Economic Affairs Committee,
In 2003 Beatrice was appointed a senators inside and outside the House, she and the Committee on Devolved Government.
programme officer at the National Council faces many political battles. In June 2013, the Additionally, she is a member of the joint
of Women of Kenya (NCWK). Two years Senate clashed with the National Assembly National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity
later, she joined Prof Wanjiku Kabira at the over the Division of Revenue Bill that had Committee.
Women Political Alliance in preparation for been assented to by the president. I worked An eloquent debator, Senator Elachi
the Banana/Orange referendum campaigns. hard to ensure the Senate had one voice. It successfully passed a crucial motion in
She joined the Banana Team. I instantly was not a matter of Jubilee or Cord, it was the House. The motion, which was passed
developed an interest in politics, she says. a constitutional matter that touched on the unanimously, recommends that the NYS
After the referendum that divided Kenyans Upper House, she says. Although the Senate be established in all counties, and youth
deeply, then Internal Security Minister, the be trained on various skills before joining
late John Michuki, noticed her deftness and universities or other institutions of higher
engaged her to do civic education on ethnic I worked hard to education. She argued that reintroducing
divisions. Her demeanor and negotiation skills the upgraded NYS programme would reduce
earned her the position of outreach manager ensure the Senate unemployment among youth and ensure that
for the Kibaki Tena campaign in 2007. had one voice. It the young people are not idle. This aims to
By this time I had plunged into the depth reduce abuse of alcohol, drugs and general
of politics and was keen to see Kibaki serve a
was not a matter of anti-social behaviour that is increasing among
second term. We pegged the campaigns on Jubilee or Cord, it the youth. Youth who have passed through
development goals and achievements, she was a constitutional the upgraded NYS would also get the first
remembers. A year later, she was appointed consideration for employment opportunities.
the executive director of the League of Kenya matter that touched Outside politics, Beatrice loves a traditional
Women Voters. Barely two years into the on the Upper House . meal with Lingala or Jazz music in the
job, the political bug bit her, and in 2010, background. To keep fit, she goes to the gym.

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S
enator Beth Mugo is one
of the most experienced
female politicians whose
achievements in politics
inspire newly elected female
MPs. To me politics is a
calling, she states.
Born in the heart of the struggle for
independence, Beth experienced the fear, the
pain and the desperation that accompanied
the hope that drove Kenyas freedom fighters
to plough on for a better future. She remembers
the Johnnies (British soldiers) marching up
and down the villages, haphazardly arresting
adults and shooting at children, who appeared
out of order. Our parents and older
siblings were arrested. We slept in pineapple
plantations fearing the Johnnies. Our normal
lives, education and so on, were disrupted. It
was a very disturbing time, she recalls.
At 14 years, Beth witnessed the arrest of
her uncle, Kenyas founding father, Mzee
Jomo Kenyatta. I was very scared. Those
incidents left a mark in me. They influenced
me to fight for peoples freedom, she states.
Beth has been involved in the economic and
political development of women in Africa,
and the struggle for multi-party politics in

BETH MUGO
Kenya. She was also a key player in the
political movement that got Daniel arap
Moi to retire from presidency. Her political
journey as the MP for Dagorretti Constituency
witnessed great development, for which the
people fondly remember her. They view her
elevation to the Senate as a loss. among others. She was celebrated among return Kenya to a multi-party state saw Beth
The 73-year-old mother of four founded 24 top African women leaders in economic participate as a founding member of the
the Kenyan chapter of the International development, and served as the president Democratic Party. We gave the struggle our
Federation of Business and Professional of Council for Economic Empowerment of best, and Im happy that things did change.
Women (IFBPW), through which many Women in Africa (CEEWA). My strength Education is now available to all children,
professionally and economically successful has been in economic empowerment; Im health, infrastructure, etc have all improved,
women today can trace their growth. She a businesswoman, she states modestly. she asserts with satisfaction. She vied for the
was also a founding director of the Kenya But Beths political achievements rival her Dagorretti Constituency seat in 1992 and
Management Assistance Programme (K-MAP) economic success. lost. Determined to win in the subsequent
and the Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT), The political drive in the early 1990s to election, Beth remained on the ground

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and initiated many development projects, Action. She was also behind the enactment were jittery about womens leadership and
including the bursary fund that became of the Cancer Control and Prevention Act, verbal and mental abuse were rife. Very few
synonymous with the politician. You cant the Tobacco Control Act, and the Breast women such as Martha Karua, Charity Ngilu
come to the ground last minute and expect Milk Substitutes Regulation and Control Act, and Mary Wanjiru from Nyandarua, were
to win, people must identify with you, she which she views as her highlight. elected to Parliament after the re-introduction
shares. Even with obvious success as a politician, of multi-party democracy in 1991, recalls
In the 1997 general election, Hon Mugo Beth cannot trace exactly when her journey in Beth. She believes that the democratic space
decamped to the Social Democratic Party leadership begun. She was the headmistress has widened with more political parties,
(SDP) and won the election. Kibaki, my of Kiganjo Primary School in Kiambu by and enabled more women to vie for political
party leader, was surprised that I abandoned age 20, soon after graduating from Kambui positions. Having more women voted in
the party we had formed. But I had to support Teachers College. Ive had several areas of has been an uphill task. One of our major
SDP Presidential Candidate, Charity Ngilu, leadership that have influenced my political achievements is seeing an increase in
she states. Beth became the first woman journey, so its really hard to say where it the number of women being elected and
to be elected to Parliament in Nairobi, all begun, she states. Beth adds that being appointed to leadership positions, Beth
and remained the Dagorretti MP till her born in a political family may have propelled adds. Besides that, she says the electorate
retirement on medical grounds, prior to the her. Her uncle, Mzee Kenyatta, whom she have seen womens leadership in action -
2013 election. TNA Party however nominated describes as a focused leader who understood more development and less politics. Women
her to serve in the senate. I know I have a the direction Kenya needed to take after arent abusive.
good name in Dagorretti because I worked independence, inspires her leadership style. Mentored by Hon Phoebe Asiyo, Hon
for the constituents . . . our nature as women I mingled a lot with his cabinet; Id listen Mugo remembers Phoebe telling her from
makes us adopt the constituency as our own to their conversation at Mzees table, she the start that politics wasnt easy. She told
home, she asserts. recalls. me it wasnt easy, but still urged me to
Dagorretti Constituency continues to Of the challenges she has faced in politics, vie, she laughs. Beth is sad however that
benefit from years of Hon Mugos leadership. discrimination against female leaders stands with the achievements made for women in
She started many schools from scratch and out. When she joined politics, the electorate politics, women have become inactive in the
supported many others through the bursary movement, yet there are still grounds to
fund, the CDF and general infrastructure be covered. The passion is no longer there.
improvement. I dont think there is any The movement has gone down. Pulling each
school in Dagorretti that I didnt leave a mark The passion is other down wont help us. Wed like to see
in, she says. She is also remembered for no longer there. the passion rekindled so we dont lose our
expanding the road infrastructure, electricity gains. We want future presidents to appoint
and water services; and constructing The movement more women, she laments.
Mutuine Sub-District Hospital. Hon Mugo has gone down. The Senator is a member of the Staff
has also served and left her development
mark as an Assistant Minister for Tourism
Pulling each other Welfare Committee, the Health Committee
and the vice chairperson of the Parliamentary
and Information; Minister for Education; and down wont help Service Commission. As a mentor of younger
Minister for Public Health and Sanitation. us. Wed like to see women politicians, Beth encourages them to
Politics is give, give, give; and its never speak with one voice on matters affecting
been a burden to me. Its a calling, she
the passion rekindled so women. Women parliamentarians biggest
declares. we dont lose our gains. We challenge is to make men understand that
In Parliament, Beth has made contributions want future presidents to womens issues are national issues. We
that will benefit Kenyans for many years to need gender mainstreamed in industry,
come. In 2000, she successfully moved a appoint more women. legislation and policy, advises the founding
motion for the adoption of the Affirmative chairperson of KEWOPA.

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to a different coalition, she notes. To c ap


it all, Catherine got the unexpected call that
rewarded her achievements. When I got the
call about my nomination, I was excited, but
tried to take it calmly, discloses the politician
who describes herself as social. She confesses
that her nomination to the Senate came as a
surprise despite having been an active member
of Ford-Kenya since 2007. I had applied for
nomination to Parliament but did not expect
to be nominated to the Senate, she confides.
A retired banker, Catherine is passionate
about empowering girls, women and the youth,
particularly in Trans-Nzoia County. Trans-
Nzoia women lack economic empowerment
to diversify their activities, she says, adding
that she will encourage them to make the
most of the Uwezo Fund. Believing that the
fund will bring great changes in the womens
lives, Catherine teaches them ways to
enhance their eligibility for the money meant
for micro-businesses. She has also devoted
her time and resources to help the women
understand the power of banking as a means
of economic growth. Once they understand
its usefulness, they will realise that they dont

CATHERINE MUKIITE
need millions to achieve goals. I urge them
to establish merry-go-rounds to increase their
ability to save, she explains.

S
The firm but gentle Senator is also
encouraging the women to own property as a
enator Catherine Nabwala general election, Catherine was instead one way of reducing their vulnerability, especially
Mukiite contested the Saboti of the active campaigners for Ford Kenya and where retrogressive cultural practices
Constituency parliamentary CORD coalition. undermine their growth. I believe that the
seat in 2007 to help reduce The dedicated and hard working secret to proper societal development lies in
poverty, marginalisation and politician not only financed Ford Kenya women owning property, she says. Even as
general hopelessness among campaign activities but also gave out her she works with women, Senator Nabwala is
members of her community vehicles for the campaigns, and was paid off concerned that many girls in her county drop
in Trans-Nzoia County. She however lost with several victories in the county. Getting out of school because of challenges ranging
to former Justice and Constitutional Affairs those seats in Trans-Nzoia County was a from parental negligence to lack of school
Minister, Eugene Wamalwa, but remained in formidable task as the region was dominated fees and ignorance on the communitys part.
politics. Choosing not to contest in the 2013 by the New Ford Kenya Party, which belonged Added to this, early pregnancies have become

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common, as the girls are often molested as all sectors of society to compete successfully
they travel long distances to school. for the national and county level elective
For the youth, Senator Nabwala introduced We must look for posts, she says.
a motion seeking to empower unemployed The warm and motherly Catherine
graduates, and help improve their standards
ways to empower describes her relationship with fellow
of living. She was driven by the desire to women, from all Senators as cordial. She sits in the Committee
have elected leaders find specific solutions sectors of society to on Finance, Commerce and Economic
to the spiraling unemployment of youth in Affairs, and is also a member of the Health
the country. The former manager at Barclays compete successfully Committee, as well as the Broadcasting
Bank of Kenya speaks with authority on for the national and and Library Committee. In March 2014,
issues of credit, which is the main focus Senator Mukiite was nominated to the Inter
of her motion seeking the enactment of the
county level elective Parliamentary Unions Standing Committee
Graduates Establishment Fund in all counties. posts. on United Nations Affairs, alongside her
She says the youth are unable to venture into National Assembly counterpart, David
private enterprises because they cant access Pkosing Losiakou, who was nominated to
affordable credit. If enacted, Catherine and justice, and living within her means. I IPUs Standing Committee on Democracy
believes the legislation would reduce to near dont believe in straying out of the right path and Human Rights. They will retain the posts
zero, unemployment of youth which currently just to earn an extra coin, she states. for four years till 2018.
stands at 70 percent nationally. Catherines failed attempt at an elective Apart from the motion she moved on
The 62-year-old legislator attended post, and experience from campaigning devolution of the Youth Fund to increase its
Misikhu Primary and Secondary Schools for in the run-up to the 2013 general election, access at the County level, she has moved
her preparatory and secondary education, have taught her that elective politics is not another one on decentralisation of the Kenya
before joining Limuru Girls High School as easy for women as it is for men. Men Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board so
for her advanced level education. She later have dominated the political scene, she patients complaints can be handled better
studied for an online degree at the London says, adding that this has in itself acted as a and faster. Did you know that some cases
Certificate College of Accounts, and also barrier to women aspiring to vie for political and complaints by patients are currently
holds two diplomas: one in Banking and office. Besides that, she says that poverty handled by the police? That cant help
Management, from the Kenya Institute of in Kenya has a womans face, meaning that the patient! She believes that womens
Bankers, and the other in Risk Management most women cannot afford to fund their leadership is still challenged and that even
from Barclays Bank, her employer of 33 years. campaigns. In my own bid for election, lack with the constitutional provisions, a lot of
Catherine retired from her lucrative of finances was a major obstacle, and I know the power has been removed from some
senior managerial position at Barclays Bank other women experience the same hardship positions. She cites the Senate and the
in 2004, long before she planned to join during campaigns for political seats, she Nominated Members of County Assemblies,
politics. Her work at the bank has helped in notes. who can only vote by delegation. We need
her current political position. In Barclays, The challenges in the political contests to guard womens leadership because it is
we set 12-month goals and reviewed them notwithstanding, Senator Mukiite encourages under threat, she asserts.
every three months. This enhanced my women aspirants to remain relevant to their The senator, who is also a farmer and
effectiveness as a leader, she discloses. electorate, and be bold and courageous hotelier in Kitale, has many interests outside
The soft-spoken member of KEWOSA and when sharing their visions and goals. She is politics, some of which include reading,
treasurer of KEWOPA, describes herself disappointed that in the last general election, keeping fit at the gym, and traveling. She is
as a strong personality who believes in very few women got elected to Parliament. We however reluctant to talk about her family. Id
transparency and accountability, fairness must look for ways to empower women, from rather keep that private, she says politely.

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S
enator Daisy Kanainza
Nyongesa is the youngest
member of the Eleventh
Parliament. The 25-year-old
graduate of an Education
degree in English Literature
was nominated by ODM to
represent the youth in the Senate. In as much
as Ive been in politics, Ive never dreamt of
becoming a Senator, she says, adding, But
again, I worked hard in grass roots politics
and was very passionate about advancing the
youth agenda. I guess someone somewhere
spotted what I was doing, she says gratefully.
The alumnus of Masinde Muliro University
of Science and Technology in Western Kenya
recalls the day news of her nomination hit
her tiny village in Kakamega: When people
heard that I had been nominated, they broke
into song and Isukuti dance. I do not want
to disappoint them, I have worked so hard
and will continue to do so until I see Kenya
become a better place, she says.
As a student, Daisy watched and admired
Nairobi Senator, Mike Sonko, fighting and
chanting while advocating for the rights of the
people. His zeal and determination to help

DAISY KANAINZA
the poor was so touching, she recalls. Other
than Sonko, the youth also refers to fellow
Senator, Janet Ongera, as her political role
model. She has nurtured me politically and
I intend to learn more from her, she states.
Daisy adds that Janet, who is the deputy youth encounter in their daily lives. Daisy also Before her nomination to the senate, Daisy
minority whip, facilitated her participation in vigorously participated in political leadership was a teacher at Friends School Mangana,
political leadership programmes while still a training programmes through Programme for a local school in Western Kenya, earning
university student. Young Politicians in Africa (PYPA), Interparty Kshs.4000 a month. Her contribution in
Senator Nyongesa never participated in Youth Forum (IPYF) and Women in Politics the House proves that indeed age is just a
university politics, preferring local party Forum. These forums transformed her into who number when one is focused. Daisy who
politics. She served as the secretary general she is today. I had a keen interest in politics describes herself as a unique and determined
of ODM Youth League for Kakamega County, and gained political knowledge along the way; young adult with an inquisitive mind
and as a result, refers to herself as an icon of that together with my academic qualifications acknowledges the transformation in her life.
rural youth, having experienced the problems got me here, she says with confidence. Although bodyguards now escort her, the

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sociable Senator remains a friend to her peers. lack of a level playing field, she says, adding Daisy who is a member of the Kenya
Nothing has changed in the way I relate that challenges should not deter women from Young Parliamentarians Association (KYPA) is
with my peers; many call me by my name and getting into politics. She argues that womens vocal in fighting for the youth, especially on
address me as it has always been. That is the poor performance in the last election is mainly issues related to the distribution of the Youth
way it should be. They shouldnt refer to me due to lack of financial and material support. Enterprise Fund and the Women Enterprise
as Senator Daisy, she says humbly. Apart from the prevailing societal prejudices, Fund. The Senator, who says she wants to
The senator says her interest in politics women were harassed, abused and subjected change the lives of the Kenyan youth, is also
dates back to her primary school days at to cultural injustices, she observes. a peace ambassador. She is alarmed by the
Silver Bells Academy and Moi Girls Nangili, Daisy believes the situation can improve rate of unemployment among the youth in
during debates and UN mock sessions. The through intense civic education and mobilisation Kenya and says that they have been used for
coverage of political news and politicians of financial support. She encourages women statistics for too long. It is important for this
in the media and listening to them speak at aspiring for political leadership to fix their leadership to take youth issues with much
rallies and other public forums motivated her eyes on the prize. Just go for it and mobilise concern and urgency, she states.
to join active politics. She also experienced the women and the youth in particular, and be She is actively ensuring that youth get jobs.
leadership as a prefect both in primary and prepared to face discrimination and all sorts of She says Kenya has enough resources to become
secondary school. She was an avid reader of injustices. This, however, should not deter you, economically stable. As a representative of the youth,
biographies, profiles and stories of the lives Senator Daisy advises. my vision is to ensure they are well accommodated
and times of veteran politicians such as the Daisy has settled well in the Senate and in the Kenyan system, she says. Nurturing talent
late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, relates well with all her colleagues. The among the youth is one of her priorities. She helped
Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku and former whole team is very supportive and the more organise the Kakamega County Beauty Contest,
MPs Chelagat Mutai and Dr Julia Ojiambo. experienced colleagues are always willing and sponsored the Likuyani Constituency Football
It is however her admiration of the to help, she says, adding that Kenya is Tournament, which drew several MPs and Kakamega
leadership and politics of former Prime lucky to have women parliamentarians who County leaders.
Minister and ODM leader, Raila Odinga, are focused, thorough and result oriented. Daisy is the vice chairperson of the
that inspired her to join active politics. I got According to her, sitting and interacting with Implementation Committee, and a member
really inspired by Raila Odinga, especially these women is not only a privilege, but also of the Education Information and Technology
his addresses in public rallies, and I have a blessing. Committee. She has toured several countries
been actively involved in politics since the to learn how youth are represented, and
inception of ODM, she says. During the subsequently plans to table a bill that will see
2010 Referendum campaigns for the current an increase in the number of children attaining
Constitution, Daisy got fully involved in the I worked hard in secondary education. I have understood the
Yes campaigns under the auspices of the cracks in our education system, and I intend
Western Youth Alliance. However, it is in 2011
grass roots politics to table a bill that will seal those cracks and
that she got a wider forum to articulate her and was very allow as many people as possible, to access
political goals after she was elected secretary- passionate about basic education, she says. She is also a
general of Orange Young Democrats League member of the Human Rights Parliamentary
to campaign and popularise the party. advancing the youth Caucus.
While campaigning for her party and agenda. I guess Away from politics, Daisy is dating and
presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, Daisy plans to serve as a role model for youth who
someone somewhere
encountered discrimination against women in may be disillusioned about marriage. She
its various forms. There was open bullying by spotted what I was doing. plans to remain in active politics after the
domineering male colleagues and an obvious marriage and expiry of her term as Senator.

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outspoken politician, who backs up all her


statements with Christian ideals, is yet to
get to terms with that experience.
After three years of gruelling and
heated campaign, Elizabeth was assured
of her partys support to vie for and win
the Nairobi Senatorial Seat. I was shocked
when I didnt get the partys nomination
just because I came from the same tribe
as the partys gubernatorial candidate for
Nairobi, she says. That to me has been the
biggest negative statement Ive ever heard,
she adds slowly, for emphasis.
The eloquent politician believes that were
she a man, the party would never have made
that unpopular decision. Most painful was
that faced with a choice between the two,
the woman was dropped, she states, the
hurt evident. I thought my party stood for
something bigger. I was so disappointed,
she adds. That and a few other experiences
in the overall political space have taught
the keen and fast learning Elizabeth that
politics is yet to accommodate women. She
blames fellow party officials. If they could
decide the fate of a fellow leader behind
closed doors, how much more the fates of

ELIZABETH ONGORO
other women? she poses.
Kenyan politics, Elizabeth says, is
male dominated and women have to fight
as though they are alone. She says the

H
affirmative action that has seen many women
get into the 11th Parliament doesnt give
on Elizabeth Ongoro coalition government, and was ODM partys them power to make important decisions.
Mashas political deputy chairperson. The biggest problem women politicians
strength and power The fast rise aside, Elizabeths relatively face is not voters or blue prints, but need for
is rising fast. In young political career has already tasted the a strategy to deal with the big boys club.
2007, she vied for the pain and disappointment also experienced Im fully alive to this bitter truth. Weve
first time and won a by her female political predecessors. Her not yet gotten a formula or a girls club to
seat in Kasarani, a race to the senate, prior to the 2013 general counter this reality, she shares.
constituency that was previously dominated election was marked with disappointment, Hon Ongoro remains in politics to seek
by hardened male politicians. She also occasioning from what she perceives as the desired change. Ive already lost a lot,
served as an assistant minister in the ethnic and gender discrimination. The and Im still hurting. But Id rather be a

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case study than quit. If I dont stick it out, and a refrigerated transport company. I
it will take another set of women to come did not know day or night, I just worked
and deal with the same issues, she states The biggest problem and built businesses from nothing, recalls
with determination. Elizabeth urges women women politicians Elizabeth, who also remained active in
to vie for top positions in their political church. Her contribution as an employer
parties, as a winning strategy. Women, get face is not voters or and a servant of God pushed her into
out and fight for these posts; I know its like blue prints, but need politics. I never liked, or wanted to become
hitting a rock, but it will eventually break, a politician; destiny will never give up on
she encourages.
for a strategy to deal you. I was thrust into politics because of
She urges women to learn from and with the big boys many colluding circumstances that are hard
build on the foundation already laid by club... Weve not yet to explain, she discloses.
earlier generations of women politicians, Employees and clients persuaded
to ensure continuity. And that with each gotten a formula or a girls Elizabeth to join politics. I chose Kasarani,
generation, women should change their club to counter this reality. a constituency that talked to my past and
political arsenal if they want to see political present, she says. Kasarani was one of the
growth, and not get frustrated out of politics biggest and most populous constituencies,
like has happened to many. Elizabeth draws yet ethnically balanced, and not dominated
lessons from Narc-Kenya leader, Martha father with his church duties, including by any one party, she explains. In Kasarani,
Karua, whom she believes has achieved a liturgy and choir training, making them a Hon Ongoro experienced the two phases of
lot in politics. This is the way it should team of church workers. After her form one her life poverty and affluence. I could
be! How I manoeuvre this course will be studies at Mary Hill Girls School, Elizabeth talk to each category comfortably, from the
a case study to future women politicians, dropped out of school for two years because heart, she adds.
and thats why I want to remain in it to its her parents could not afford the school fees. Elizabeth will vie in the next election.
sweeter end, she declares. Completing secondary and high school Any politician with no ambition or ability
Born fifth of 12 children, Elizabeth grew education were nothing short of a miracle for to correct past mistakes is not in the right
up under humble circumstances. She picked the legislator, who holds a Masters Degree career, she says. Like most politicians, she
three life principles: cleanliness, hard work, in Urban Development from the University joined politics hoping to solve the peoples
and generosity, from her hardworking and of Nairobi, and an undergraduate Degree in problems. Sometimes you feel frustrated
strict grandmother, who raised her between Education from Kenyatta University. During and inadequate when you meet many
6 months of age and three years. Elizabeth her two years out of school, she helped problems that you cant quite solve I cant
also learnt bravery and leadership from her parents and the church with chores. settle to a full meal. The voices get back to
the matriarch, a midwife, who was also A priest noticed her intelligence, kindness me; it affects us, she says. She is learning
outspoken on governance matters. My and dedication, and educated her through how to balance what she can and cannot
earliest memories of her are of a strong Rangala and Lwak Girls High Schools. I do for the people, while putting effort in
woman who was not afraid to address rejoined school in form four and worked law making and policy formulation and
barazas and instil discipline in anyone who hard to recover the two years I had lost. implementation, where the most sustainable
ever passed through her home, she recalls. The competitive Elizabeth says she wasnt solutions lay.
The daughter of a Catechist, the Catholic going to lag behind her contemporaries. In the senate, Elizabeth serves in the
Church influenced most of Hon Ongoros Hon Ongoro is gifted in business, Foreign Relations and Security Committee,
childhood, including her earlier dream to having run successful investments since her the Energy Committee, the Speakers
become a nun. At Siriba (now Maseno) second year at university. Her ventures have Panel, and is the chairperson of the
Teachers Training College, where she grew included, among others, boutiques, a refuse newly constituted Kenya Women Senators
up, Elizabeth and her siblings helped their handling company, a construction company Association (KEWOSA).

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S
enator Emma Mbura recalls
how as a young girl, she would
stand up against bullies to
defend not just herself, but also
friends, peers and anybody who
appeared weaker than she was.
I have always had a soft spot
for social justice and human rights, says the
TNA senator from Mombasa County. This
explains her daring move, in early June 2013,
when she bailed out seven women accused of
stripping in a Mombasa club. The senator did
what many leaders would not dare, for fear
of negative reactions from the society. She
criticised foreigners who come into the country
to exploit desperate and jobless young Kenyans
by engaging them in demeaning activities for
money. The outspoken senator said foreigners
were welcome to invest in the country but not
to exploit Kenyans.
As the news of what she had done spread
across the country, Emma suggested to fellow
women legislators to get together and draft
legislation that would help end such immoral
businesses, and protect the people against
exploitation by unscrupulous foreigners. I
have been active as a human rights defender,

EMMA MBURA
an anti-corruption crusader, a campaigner
against drug trafficking and substance abuse
and a community mobiliser, she explains.
Born on November 23, 1967, Emma is keen
on good politics; the kind she claims to have
practiced since joining the male dominated drugs and substance abuse. Children in the Kimijikenda (The Council of Mijikenda
political field. This kind of politics, she says, club are taught the importance and benefits of Women), which has worked to empower
entails organising society for common good. protecting the environment by planting trees Mijikenda women in rural areas. It helps to
It was therefore a natural destination for me, and keeping neighborhoods clean, she says. identify the challenges and problems affecting
says the legislator whose major areas of interest The club has helped to keep children away from the women and finds solutions. The other
are community development, human rights divisive activities during school holidays. The development group she founded is Women of
and social justice. Emma is the founder of a Mombasa Municipal Council has particularly the Flag of Kenya, a singing group made up
number of successful community development benefited from hundreds of trees planted by the of women from all communities and races of
groups, including the Mombasa based All children. Kenya. The women have in the past offered
Race Kids Club (Arakic), which empowers The other community group that Emma patriotic entertainment on national events in
children on issues affecting society, such as started is the Baraza la Kina Mama wa Mombasa and Nairobi. They also campaign for

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peaceful coexistence among all communities toughest of times, including in tackling the popular political parties. She adds that they
of Kenya. In the run-up to the 2013 general Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) menace. should be capable of mobilising resources.
election, they mobilised people to register as The MRC was one of the toughest challenges Politics is not for those who are easily cowed
voters and encouraged them on the day of her team of development and political workers and neither is it a walk in the park. Women
election, to cast their votes. faced in the run-up to the 2013 election. aspiring for elective positions must know that
Emma worked as a guest relationship The rejection of the set election dates by nobody will give them the positions without a
executive in Nyali, Bamburi, Leopard and the MRC was our main challenge. When fight, Senator Mbura points out.
Leisure Beach Hotels between 1995 and that was dealt with, we focused on the other She suggests heightened civic education
2008. Before that, she had a one-year stint challenge, campaigning for TNA at the Coast, and womens empowerment to ensure that
between 1994 and 1995 as a community social she says. The Coast region supported CORD the dismal performance of women in the last
worker at Mkoma Clinic. At the time of her heavily, and that was a big challenge for the general election is not repeated. Emma also
nomination, the TNA senator was the Coast campaigner. Thanks to her development work, proposes a critical look at the countrys electoral
regional coordinator for Kenyans for Justice the bulk of support that the Jubilee Coalition system that is favourable to those with money
and Development (KEJUDE) Trust. She is received came from the youth and women who and those are naturally men. If that is not
remembered for mobilising the community have benefitted from Emmas development addressed, women will continue performing
against ills such as graft in the public service; work. dismally at elections, she observes.
trafficking of drugs and substance abuse; Married with four children, Senator Mbura The Senator, who loves planting trees
exploitation of workers; and child prostitution. cautions women that politics is not for the faint and engaging in clean-up exercises, says her
She also mobilised the community to defend hearted. If you join politics, be prepared to relationship with other senators is cordial. She
and protect their human rights. fight it out with men to achieve your goal, she adds that although this is the second time that
An alumnus of Pwani College, Emma adds. She further advises women aspiring for Kenya has a Senate, theirs is the first under the
started off her political career as an active political leadership to be strategic by building current Constitution, and all 67 Senators are
campaigner for veteran Coast politician, winning teams and networks, and by joining learning on the job. There are no experienced
the late Shariff Nassir. More recently, she senators to take us by the hand, she says.
campaigned for former Mvita MP, Najib Balala, Emma is a member of the Committee on
for the Mombasa Senatorial seat in the run up Delegated Legislation, and also sits in the joint
to the 2013 general election. Balala lost the Committee on National Cohesion and Equal
race and was appointed the Cabinet Secretary Politics is not for Opportunity. Senator Mbura intends to spend
for Mining. Emma was one of TNAs key her five-year term humbly serving the country
campaigners in the region in the last election.
those who are both from inside and outside the House. She
She settled for TNA because, in her view, the easily cowed and has five pending motions: on accountability
party injected freshness into Kenyas political neither is it a walk in writing off debts owed by local authorities;
scene, and because of its ideology. I like the on gender and violence; privatisation;
youthful leadership of TNA. I identified with in the park. Women modernisation of road and rail infrastructure;
its ideological platform and policy framework aspiring for elective and on the provision of laptops to standard
which is geared towards economic liberation one pupils.
of Kenyans through modernising the countrys
positions must A member of KEWOPA, Senator Mbura
economy, says the 47-year-old human rights know that nobody will sits in its committee on Public Administration
campaigner. give them the positions and International Relations. She says KEWOPA
Senator Mbura has used the public has helped to increase her confidence through
relations skills acquired from her experience in without a fight. interaction with other women legislators, as
guest relationship work in all her professional well as through mentoring and building her
engagements. She has employed this skill in capacity through inductions and training.

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she was nominated Commissioner at the


Kenya National Commission on Human
Rights (KNHCR), in charge of Security
Sector Reform, International Obligations
and Wajir Regional Office. Her docket
included additional responsibilities of
mainstreaming the rights of children,
people with disability and women.
When her contract with KNHCR ended,
she embarked on her journey to leadership
at another level. I knew I was ripe for
politics and that is where I was headed,
she says. Fatuma travelled back home to
Isiolo County intending to contest for the
County Womens Representative seat. I
was good enough to participate in active
politics. I had done a lot of groundwork
and was sure of a win, she relates.
An election strategy meeting in Isiolo
comprising clan leaders and political
leaders from the Jubilee Coalition had
different plans. It was agreed that I
withdraw my bid for the sake of unity in
our county. As I did not want to divide
the people, the voice of the clan and

FATUMA DULLO
elders prevailed.
The Senator says that the campaign
team for the Jubilee Coalition had a tough
assignment defending the candidacy of its

S
flag-bearers, Uhuru Kenyatta and William
Ruto, because of the charges of crimes
enator Fatuma Adan Dullo provincial administration in the Coast, against humanity related to the 2007
was the first woman from Eastern and Rift Valley Provinces. election, at the International Criminal
the Borana community to In 1995 Fatuma joined the Ministry Court. There was a lot of propaganda
serve as a District Officer. of Health as an Assistant Secretary. and the people had been misled that the
She was 22-years-old and Ten years later she left the government presidential candidate and his running
fresh from Garbatulla service to work with the United Nations mate were prisoners. I was able to
High School when she got Development Programme as a Human explain the true position because of my
employed in that position. For 17 years Rights and Legal Adviser. She however background as a lawyer and my years of
she served in various capacities in the returned to public service in 2007, when experience in government, she says.

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On 20 March 2013, URP nominated political leadership to come out and fight
Fatuma the Senator for Isiolo County. I for their rights. There is no difference
had supported the leaders in their strategy between them and men because they are
and they in turn kept their word. I cannot equally competent. Although there are
defy the elders as I highly respect them, challenges and barriers, they need to Women should be
says the advocate of the High Court of develop confidence and look up to those
Kenya. already in such positions and follow
able to support each
Described as a team player and suit, says the Senator. She also believes other. Because of
excellent manager by her peers, Fatuma that it is important to include men in failing to give each
is confident that she and her team civic education as it is the best way
will deliver the promises they made to to cultivate community acceptance for
other that support,
the Isiolo County electorate. It is not women in political leadership. men use us to fight
something I can deliver on my own. Speaking in reference to the poor their political wars.
We shall do so as a team to ensure that performance of women in the race for
Jubilee fulfils the pledges made to the parliamentary and gubernatorial seats,
nation, she says. Fatuma says that one of the major
Fatuma is a member of key Senate challenges is that civic education efforts
committees: she is the vice chairperson of with a view to increasing womens
the Committee on National Security and acceptance in politics, tends to focus already in leadership is to particularly
Foreign Relations, and a member of the on a few select women, as opposed to mentor the women in the grassroots as
Senate Committee on Legal Affairs and a unified approach that embraces all they lack exposure. Women should be
Human Rights. She also sits on the board women involved. It is also important to able to support each other. Because of
of Pastoralist Women Access to Justice, include men and the youth in the civic failing to give each other that support,
and is a member of the Law Society of education that seeks to increase the men use us to fight their political wars,
Kenya, KEWOPA and FIDA. number of women in elective politics, she points out.
Fatuma is confident in her ability to she adds. Senator Fatuma Dullo has paramilitary
sponsor a bill that would impact the lives Besides the divisionary approach, she training from the Administration Police
of the youth, as well as legislation to also acknowledges that lack of money Training College, undertaken in 1993.
empower women to be able to compete was one of the reasons many competent She also studied for a Diploma in Law and
for leadership positions with men. But women stayed out of Parliament and Bachelors degree in Law between 2001
in the meantime, the Senator chairs the county leadership seats in the 2013 and 2005, at the University of Nairobi.
Northern Kenya Access to Justice, a civil election. They cant afford the whole She recently completed her Masters
society for the local community. process from registration, to campaigns, Degree in Law at the same university in
She encourages women aspiring for she says. Her challenge to women 2012.

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S
he was nominated to
represent persons with
disability after a spirited
campaign in the 2013
general election. Senator
Godliver Omondi from
Kakamega County
campaigned determinedly alongside other
politicians who were seeking election
to Parliament. I went around all the 14
counties of Western Kenya campaigning
for ODM because I knew the more votes
the party got, the higher the chances for
my nomination. I campaigned tirelessly
and all the campaigns I did were self-
sponsored, Hon Omondi discloses. I
would campaign in three churches each
Sunday for three months, recalls the
politician, who was Western Kenyas
coordinator for people with disability.
After the election, Godlivers name
topped the ODM list of nominees
presented to IEBC for nomination to the
Senate, as a representative of people
with disability. I was so confident I was
headed to Parliament because the party

GODLIVER OMONDI
had given me an assurance. I later saw the
list of nominees and indeed I had been
nominated and my name was top on the
list, she recalls.
Soon after her nomination, Godliver
was to go to Tanzania for a conference to
discuss issues of women with disability. (Harold Kimunge) Kipchumba, I almost 15, 2013, Godliver was finally sworn in,
But just before boarding the flight, she collapsed, she remembers. and immediately set out to work to catch
decided to confirm one last time with Not one to give up, Godliver armed up with colleagues. Her work has proven
an official at IEBC that the list was still herself with a copy of the original list, that she is indeed a fast learner. Even the
intact. I do not think I will ever forget the which she had photocopied, and went to Speaker of the House was surprised, and
response, because the words hit me like the High Court. After six months of a court to my joy, he commended me for that,
a thunderbolt, recalls the Senator. The duel, the Judge ruled that Kipchumba she says.
officer said, Hon Omondi, I am sorry to had been unfairly nominated and the seat Senator Omondi is grateful and
tell you that the seat has been given to rightfully belonged to her. On October thankful to God that her dreams and effort

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to become a lawmaker have finally been could not join the school immediately. agreed to support me throughout my
fulfilled, though heartbroken that her When the school administration learnt education. I will be forever grateful to
mother did not live to see her dream come about my condition, they refused to admit him, the Senator says.
true. me saying they would only do so if I After completing high school education,
Born 42 years ago, Godliver contracted was on a wheelchair, she remembers. the mother of three trained as a telephone
Polio when six months old. She lost Godliver had almost given up on secondary operator and worked at the Mumias
use of her limbs as a result and is now education when help came from the most Municipal Council. Later she trained at
confined to a wheel-chair. I have never unlikely of places. I was crawling from the Mbagathi Teachers Training College
known the joys or pains of walking. I church one Sunday when a man on a in Nairobi and at Mombasas Government
have never walked or stood in my life, bicycle stopped me. He asked me to tell Training Institute, acquiring knowledge
she says without a hint of self-pity. For the my mother to take me to a place in Butula that saw her rise within the ranks in human
eight years of her primary education, she in Busia County where I would get help. resource management. Today Senator
crawled for 4km to school and back. Her When we went to Butula, he gave me a Omondi is the national chairperson of the
mother had been widowed when Godliver wheelchair, she says, her face lighting United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UPDK).
was just about a year old. Because of that, up. The Senator first dabbled with politics
she could not afford a wheelchair or a With the issue of the wheelchair during the Kenyan constitutional review
helper for her daughter. resolved then area Member of Parliament, process that culminated into the 2010
I went to an ordinary school and the late Dr Elon Wameyo, offered to Constitution. She is passionate about
crawled to school under a lot of difficulties. pay her school fees. A local councillor issues affecting people with disability,
Sometimes I came across kind people introduced my mother to the MP. He particularly women. She is grateful to
along the road who gave me a lift on their her husband, Alfred Were Wekesa, who
bicycles, she recalls. has walked with her through her political
Now that she is able to move around and family life. In addition to their three
with ease, Godliver says, This wheelchair children, the couple adopted three of her
is my life. I am comfortable in it and it brothers children following his death a
has never been an obstacle to anything
I went around all few years ago.
that I have wanted to do. The amiable the 14 counties The lawmaker plans to use her position
legislator appreciates her mother, who did of Western Kenya as a senator to push for implementation of
not remarry because she needed to give policies and laws on people with disability.
all her attention to her disabled daughter. campaigning for I have always wanted to be where laws
She was often mocked for having a ODM because I are formulated and implemented so that
disabled child. People used to call me a knew the more issues affecting people with disability
pussy cat, and they would tell my mother, are more visible. That is now my focus,
If you want to get married you must first votes the party she asserts. I want to work with other
make up your mind about where you want got, the higher senators to advance issues on disability
to leave that pussy cat of yours. Senator and come up with an affirmative action.
Omondi knows the sacrifice it took to have
the chances for my Senator Omondi sits in the Health,
her mother choose to stick with her. She nomination. Delegated, Broadcasting and Library
had hope in me, she states jovially. Committee, the National Cohesion and
After primary school, she got admission Equal Opportunities Committee, and is a
to Mumias Girls Secondary School, but member of KEWOPA.

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women in her home that she chose a woman


as her bodyguard. I want young girls and
women to know that offering security to VIPs
is not a preserve for men, she says. She is
emphatic that her hard work at Eldas Primary
School in the outskirts of Wajir, and later at
Wajir Secondary School, thrust her into the
national limelight in March 2013. Halima
developed interest in politics just months to
the general election, while working as a field
officer with a humanitarian organisation in
Wajir.
After graduating with a Bachelor of
Education Degree in Science, Biology and
Chemistry in 2011, Halima was employed
by the Wajir-based Arid Lands Development
Focus (ALDEF) as a field monitor. She
rose within a few months to the position
of Education Project Officer. Through
this organisation, I learnt a lot about the
community and the challenges women and
girls in particular face. It is through this work
that I came face to face with the problems
they face due to gaps in education, says the
soft-spoken senator.
By advocating for the education, rights
and empowerment of girls and women,

HALIMA ABDILLE organisations such as UN-Women inspire


the youthful Senator. She has decided to
do everything in her power to motivate

S
girls to follow in her footsteps and embrace
education to secure their future. Having
enator Halima Abdille with the effect her new status has had on understood their problems, and especially
Mohammud, from Wajir girls from Wajir County, and particularly challenges the girl child faces in her attempt
County, is grateful for those from her home in Eldas. I am very to access proper education, I decided to be a
Kenyas current Constitution, excited that even my own sisters have been role model for them in Wajir. I tell them that
without which she would motivated and inspired by my nomination with focus in education, they can become
not have been an MP. The to the Senate, a matter I also attribute to my successful in life, no matter which school
Constitution motivated me hard work and consistency in school, college they attend, says Halima.
through its provisions on gender and equity, and the community, she says. Hon Mohammud is full of praise for
says the Kenyatta University graduate. The So keen is Halima on empowering and her father, Wajir businessman, Abdille
25-year-old legislator is still coming to terms improving the status of girls and young Mohammud. She is glad he motivated and

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encouraged her to pursue education to the with very senior politicians and leaders in
highest level. I remember him promising
to take me to a good school in Nairobi if
Some told me that this country, and to sit in the same chambers
with them. I have learnt and keep learning a
I passed KCPE well. In turn I promised to I had no chance lot from them, she adds.
persevere the conditions at Eldas Primary at nomination, To find her way around the House and
School and pass highly because I was understand its procedures, Halima spends a
convinced that my determination and hard and would not go lot of time studying the House Rules and
work, and not the state of the school, would far politically on Standing Orders as well as the Constitution,
see me through. I did not disappoint dad, account of my age. and observing keenly what senior politicians
she says proudly. do. She is glad that KEWOPA has done a
An obedient daughter, Halima remembers They were wrong. I good job of inducting new MPs and guiding
most of the advice her father gave her and was number three on the them on all aspects of Parliament. I am still
her siblings, especially constantly reminding learning and reading and I am not worried
them that the only thing they could inherit
list of CORD nominees. because I know practice makes perfect,
from him was education. I have followed says the member of the executive committee
his advice to the letter, and I am happy to of KEWOPA.
say that I have inspired my younger sisters democracy and that is what the whole county Halima hopes to introduce a motion
to follow suit. They are very keen to succeed wanted, she emphasises. making education of girls mandatory. She
in education. I am happy that my father is Initially, Halima had purposed to run as intends to use her political platform to
among the few men in the community who the countys womens representative, but on promote the education and empowerment of
are keen on education for their daughters, consultation with fellow leaders, she opted girls. I want to campaign for the rights of
says the second born of 13. to concentrate on campaigning for the party. the girl child nationally. I also want to be
One of Halimas younger sisters, Hamun, We conducted intense campaigns and able to tell girls and young women that there
was the best pupil in the 2012 KCPE in delivered for the party. Almost the whole is no short cut to success and academic
Eldas Constituency. She also joined Wajir county went to CORD, she says. Halima excellence, except through hard work. I want
Girls Secondary School, while one other shrugged off pessimists who attempted to them to know that the fruits of education are
sister is studying for a Bachelors degree in dissuade her from applying for the position sweet, the legislator says with authority.
Environmental Studies at one of the local of nominated MP. Some told me that I had Although no women senators or governors
universities. I am so happy that many other no chance at nomination, and would not go were elected in the 2013 general election,
young women and girls are willing to work far politically on account of my age. They Halima is happy that Kenyan elections have
hard to beat the challenges to get where I were wrong. I was number three on the list improved. She believes that to enhance
am. They want to be like Halima, she says. of CORD nominees, she recalls. womens political leadership, the civil
My husband also encourages me to pursue Halima has maintained her passion in society and political leaders should enhance
my goal to empower girls and women, and education by joining Senates Committee civic education to ensure more women are
my other interests, she adds. on Education, Information and Technology. elected in future political contests. Senator
Encouragingly, local political leaders To crown it, and to her utter surprise and Halima urges women interested in taking
embraced and supported Halima when she joy, she was elected the committees vice up elective positions to come out and follow
showed interest in political leadership. She chairperson, after defeating Pokot Senator, their dreams even as they deal with the
chose ODM Party because it is serious about Prof John Lonyangapuo of the Jubilee challenges and obstacles along the way.
a rule by the people and for the people. Coalition. Halima is also a member of the Anything is possible. They should stand up
Besides that, ODM was the more popular joint Parliamentary Broadcasting Committee. and take their positions in leadership. They
party in Wajir. I liked their use of the word I am very happy and proud to be interacting must not shy away, she challenges.

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H
er mother reminds
her that when she
was a child, she often
said that she wanted
to become the vice-
president of Kenya,
and would often
imitate soldiers marching. Hon Janet Ongera
cannot remember the childhood fantasies,
but remembers that her maternal grandfather
was a traditional Kisii chief, who was treated
like a king. Her paternal grandmother was a
spiritual leader with the power to stop rain;
and her paternal grandfather was an adviser
to the community.
Janet, a last born, was brought up in
a polygamous family of the Seventh Day
Adventist denomination. Her mother was a
deaconess and her father a sergeant in the
Prisons Department. The family did not always
enjoy lifes basic needs, but was filled with
love.
Despite having grandparents who were
leaders, Janets political mentor was her
brother-in-law, the late Zephania Anyieni. A
long-serving Kisii politician, Zephania taught

JANET ONGERA
Janet a lot about political leadership from a
very young age. She grew up in his house.
He took me to school a year earlier than
my peers, and exposed me to his political
campaigns. I remember campaigning for
him in Bomachoge Constituency when I was
in standard seven. I campaigned again for knew personally was exciting and joyous. The merely viewed her as a lawyer and manager.
him in two other elections, she says. people called him E Simba ya Bagusii (The Her first meeting with Raila was coincidental.
Her roles in the campaigns were simple. Lion of the Kisii) a name that elicited a lot Janet had been Uhuru Kenyattas campaign
She helped to feed the people who flocked of excitement from the people, and more manager in the Kisii region when he
Zephaniahs home during the campaigns and confidence in me, she recalls. Her interest in unsuccessfully vied for Presidency in 2002.
reported back whatever she heard them saying. politics was thus formed in early childhood. As a civil servant, she was doing this work
Her other role was to sing and dance with Presently, one of Janets greatest political illegally, and soon after the election, she
them on the campaign trail. To a young girl, inspirations is ODM leader, Raila Odinga. was shown the door at the Kenya Airports
those were thrilling moments. Seeing people He was able to successfully bring out the Authority, where she was deputy-managing
singing and dancing in praise of someone I politician in her, when family and friends director. Three years later, Raila, Uhuru,

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William Ruto and Kalonzo Musyoka offered Janet has a broader and liberal view on the Senate was largely a result of years Janet
her a political deal she could not ignore. From countrys politics. She believes that the best spent watching and learning from the skills of
then, she got immersed into politics. way to attain political peace in Kenya would grounded MPs in her party. A good listener,
The four had teamed up to oppose the be by having a government of cooperation she has also made it a point to take in their
Draft Constitution that was the subject of a and abandoning the politics of division in words of wisdom laced with experience, as
Referendum in November 2005. They wanted favour of inclusion. they interacted with her in the years that
her to manage their No campaign. That As the 2013 general election drew nearer, she served at the ODM secretariat. They
was the first time I participated in serious Janet wanted to vie for the Kisii Senatorial generously included her when strategising on
politicking. I was responsible for the success seat. Working in Kisii, Janet interacted how to pass Bills and Motions in the House.
of their campaign. The campaign went right with a lot of people who have also become Were it not for that past, she believes coping
and we won the plebiscite, she recalls her political supporters. For instance, in the House would have been hard, as the
joyfully. she has mentored the youth through the increased number of legislators in the Eleventh
When the team later parted ways, Janet NGO, Green Fingers International, which Parliament has made training for new members
had already made up her mind to stick engages in projects such as brick-making, a demanding task. We keep making blunders
with ODM. During their travels to drum tree-planting and other innovative ways in the House but Im glad that the senior ones
up support for the Orange team around of generating income. With such a rich help us greatly and tell us what to do and how
the country, Raila exhibited a strength and interaction with women and youth, Janet to go about different situations, she says.
resilience that she had not seen in anyone believed that they would help her clinch the As the deputy minority whip, Janet
before. Railas resilience resonates with position. Party leaders however persuaded her has worked hard to get members of her
my spirit. I believe that with resilience and to withdraw her candidacy in favour of long- party to table motions in Parliament. She
patience in politics, one can achieve a lot. serving politician, Chris Obure. She agreed to is also pondering on a few of her own as
I admired that trait as well as his bravery, do so, having reasoned that running against she continues to learn. Unlike the National
she says. her ally would have easily caused a split in Assembly, the Senate has had few political
Clearly, Janet who narrowly missed the votes and caused her party the seat. She is rivalries between members from the different
nomination into Parliament in 2008 and glad that Obure won, and she got nominated political sides, a situation that makes Janet
ended up taking up the post of ODMs to the Senate, as a reward for the good work happy. We have an excellent working
executive director admires her political she did as ODMs executive director. relationship in the Senate. We may differ
mentor. If you dont want him to attend The ease with which she settled in the on principle but we do not demean or
a function, dont try to dissuade him with embarrass each other. We sit and agree,
words such as, Dont go to that place giving opposing members the right to voice
because of riots or danger... because that their opinions, she says.
perceived danger will be precisely his
Railas resilience A member of KEWOPA, Janet is pleased
reason to go to the place. To me that is real resonates with my with the work the association has done for
bravery of a politician, she says. Watching spirit. I believe that members, but challenges its leadership to
and emulating Raila has slowly turned her ensure that the one-third gender principle
into the politician she is. with resilience and is achieved, not only in elective but also
Janet also credits the Centre for patience in politics, appointive posts. We women leaders in
Multiparty Democracy for mentoring her. Parliament should champion this principle
one can achieve a lot. and ensure an enhanced civic education for
She has also gone through and benefited
from the political academies of the National I admired that trait as women to empower them for political office
Democratic Institute and the Norwegian well as his bravery. We have not yet given the rural based woman
Government. With such expansive mentoring, the attention she deserves, she concludes.

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in Chiga Village in Kisumu County. At 13


years, I became the secretary general of
our church youth group at Chiga Parish.
Our activities included enlightening
other youngsters on HIV and AIDS, and
talent development in the village, she
remembers.
A staunch supporter of President
Uhuru Kenyatta and his TNA party, the
youthful senator took to social media and
intense blogging to campaign for her
favourite candidate and party.
I supported and campaigned for TNA
because I felt quite passionate about the
principles of the party leader as well
as the backdrop on which the party
was formed. It gives women and youth
visibility, she says.
Before her nomination, the graduate
of the University of Nairobi, Bachelor of
Information Sciences, had worked in the
mass media industry, and could therefore
not participate actively in politics.
Since 2002, I was keen and interested
in politics but could not engage actively

JOY GWENDO
because of the dictates of my career in
the media, she says. I did not imagine
that one day I would have a platform to
express issues that are close to my heart

E
and affect people daily. Now, I have it in
the Senate.
ven as she pursued a interested in politics. In fact, my late Joy has authored an English Luo / Luo
career in journalism at the father believed I would either become - English Dictionary, aimed at increasing
Royal Media Services, Hon a politician or a lawyer, she says. I the understanding and speaking of the
Joy Adhiambo Gwendo am sure he turned in celebration in his two languages among the Luo and people
knew she was destined for grave, when I joined politics. interested in the language. She got into
politics. Her dream came The former student of Lwak Girls mainstream politics after interviewing now
true when TNA nominated High School traces her passion for TNA Secretary General, Onyango Oloo,
her to the Senate. I have always been leadership to her childhood, growing up at the Ramogi Radio Station. Oloo had

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formed a political party mainly targeting they should be consistent in pursuing


the people of Nyanza, something that their goals and stand firm for what they
attracted Joy. She however could not believe in. For women aspiring to be
go public about her political activities elected in various posts, consistency and
because her employer did not encourage
For women
strong will gets you to your destination,
employees to participate in politics. I aspiring to be she stresses. She, however, feels that
did not hesitate to join DFP, and worked elected in various young women in Kenya who rise into
as the partys head of communication, positions of leadership are still viewed
for two years behind the scenes, she
posts, consistency
with suspicion by society. As a young
discloses. DFP is one of the parties that and strong will woman, society still looks at me as one
joined TNA before the 2013 general gets you to your who did something to get to my position
election. and not that I worked for or deserve
The staunch believer in womens
destination.
it. There are also those who see young
empowerment is sad that only 16 women women as flower girls. These are some of
were elected to represent constituencies the stereotypes we must fight to change,
in Parliament, and that none were elected says the mother of one.
in the Senate and at the gubernatorial on the leaders but now I am one of them. The Senator has taken her quest to
level. That however, should not make I must say that this is magnanimous and address issues affecting the youth further
women leaders give up or lose hope, she I have God to thank, she says excitedly. and whenever she is invited for radio
says, adding that instead women should The Senator is a member of the House interviews, she seeks their views ahead
seek new ways of getting the electorate to Committee on Education, Information of the programme, through social media.
understand the need to elect and empower and Technology. She also sits in the Using the same forum, Joy has also
women. We must keep reminding voters crucial Implementation Committee. It is sought views of these constituents so the
that if women can take care of families exciting to interact with and learn from Senate Education Committee can address
under whatever circumstances, why not some of the very brilliant people in this them.
the country? she poses. country, Joy says. She is also a member Joy has also worked as a Marketing and
Hon Gwendo is enjoying the new of KEWOPA and is looking towards Creative Executive with Home Boyz radio.
experience at the Senate because apart exploring available opportunities through For the last five years, she has written for
from her love for challenges, being in the the association. the Catholic Church magazine, the Seed,
Senate is an opportunity of great learning. Her advice to the youth and in published by Consolata Missionaries. She
I am from a background (journalism) particular young women who want to be says she will continue writing for the
where I used to sit down to write a story in political and national leadership is that magazines youth page, even as a senator.

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I
did not see
my debut into
politics coming,
laughs Senator
Judith Achieng
Sijeny. She was
in Johannesburg,
South Africa, representing the Law
Society of Kenya in a National
Construction Authority Conference, when
she learnt of her nomination by the Wiper
Democratic Party. It was too much for
me. I was overwhelmed and excited, she
remembers.
Born and brought up in Nairobis
South B Estate, the Senator grew up in a
polygamous home, where she witnessed
disputes over property. My mother,
being the fourth wife, was always quiet
and content with whatever share she got,
but the future lawyer in me saw injustice.
She strongly believes that God allowed
disputes in the family to prepare her for
a great career. She made up her mind to
study hard and become a lawyer. I have
always believed in justice and will not

JUDITH SIJENY
let anyone be mistreated even if I do not
personally know them, she asserts.
As a young girl, Judith disliked politics
intensely. Her father, Antony Sijeny, a
politician and prominent businessman,
was often absent from home. When she the role of defending her siblings from 1976 and 1978, which she credits for
socialised with the children of other bullies, and remembers an episode transforming her life. I could spread my
politicians, questions such as when were where she wrestled and pinned down a bed, draw water and practice personal
you last with your dad? often dominated big boy who was fond of bullying her hygiene under no duress, she recalls,
the conversation. I vowed to be a present stepbrothers. I was sitting on top of him adding that she was later to champion
mother and spend ample time with my and raining punches on him. Her father speech contests and was even made the
children, the mother of two remembers. took her to Bar-Korwa Girls Boarding school timekeeper. I was getting more
The trained Karateka always took up School, for class five to seven, between responsible by the day, she admits.

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After completing her studies at Ngiya The warm and welcoming politician
Girls Secondary School in Siaya County chose not to vie for the FIDA position
in 1982, Judith went to study in India. again because she now sits in different
She joined Jabalpur University where she Senatorial committees. She is the vice
started her BA in economics, and later chairperson of the Roads, Transport and
completed the course at Poona University. Communication Committee, as well as
Later she joined Bombay University where the Delegated Legislation Committee.
she studied Political Science, English She also sits in the Committee on Legal
and Literature. Finally Judith joined the Affairs and Human Rights. I have so Get prepared
Government Law College where she studied much in my hands as far as governance psychologically
for a Bachelors Degree in Law. After six is concerned that I would feel selfish if
and involve your
years in India, she returned to Kenya and I didnt let another person serve in the
enrolled at the Kenya School of Law. FIDA Committee, she states. family - they play
She believes that God paved her way Judith is grateful to KEWOPA for the a great part.
into politics because no sooner had she induction training they gave the first time
finished her studies at the Kenya School legislators upon joining the senate. She
of Law, than former Vice President, believes similar organizations should do
Kalonzo Musyoka, who is also a lawyer more to enlighten and empower women
by profession, recruited her into his politicians.
legal firm. I managed the firm very Sijeny has already drafted a bill on
well, something that impressed the then reproductive care, which will be discussed
presidential aspirant, she recalls. Being soon. She believes that lack of education
so close to a presidential aspirant exposed is the cause of maternal death, especially
her to politics. I used to do all the legal among teenage girls. Catholic faithful advises: Get prepared
write-ups for the Wiper Democratic Party, Education on reproductive health psychologically and involve your family
and was eventually appointed the partys should be enhanced to stop teenage girls - they play a great part. She further
national elections board secretary, she from abusing contraceptives, especially advises the women to become strong
says. She would later be selected to chair the morning-after emergency pill, she and prepare well financially, even before
the Wiper National Appeals Board. stresses. She suggests that health facilities declaring their interest. On her future
Judith later left the law firm to join should have adolescent friendly lectures to in the political career, Judith is yet to
Muthoga Gaturu & Company Advocates, ensure safe and responsible motherhood. decide in which county she hopes to vie
which was founded by Judge Lee I have always had a soft spot for women, for an elective senatorial position in the
Muthoga. She remained under Kalonzos she adds. Judith also wants legalisation of 2017 general election.
mentorship. She joined FIDA Kenya and gestational surrogacy, a treatment process The 48-year-old senator is the only
actively volunteered to assist women in which another woman, other than the surviving child of her mother. She lost
in legal advisory. She served as the one donating the embryo, undergoes the her younger brother and only sibling in
chairperson of FIDA-Kenya between 2006 embryo transfer process, and then carries a road accident. Challenging as it is she
and2010 before starting her own firm, the pregnancy to term. is balancing well her roles as daughter,
Sijeny and Company Advocates. To female political aspirants, the mother, lawyer and senator.

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lost. But she did not give up. The 50-year-old


was keen to vie for the position of Womens
Representative on a URP ticket in Nakuru, but
withdrew her candidature. The Jubilee Coali-
tion had a strategy where some contenders
stepped down for the sake of others to in-
crease unity between coalition members and
increase chances of winning. Her decision to
step down in favour of a contestant from TNA
was wise. The candidate captured the seat
and Liz got nominated to the senate.
She joined URP because of its policies and
manifesto. I was even more thrilled when the
URP and TNA leadership came together in
the Jubilee Coalition because they put peace
at the top of their campaigns. The result of
their coming together today is the peace and
tranquility we are enjoying particularly in the
cosmopolitan Rift Valley Region, which has
for many years been haunted by ethnic and
political suspicions and hostility, she says.
Born in1962 and raised in Kuresoi South
Constituency, Senator Chelule attended Ma-
haret Primary, Kaplong Girls High and Moi
Minariet High Schools between 1971 and
1979. She holds a Certificate in Information

LIZ CHELULE
Technology from JKUAT and is pursuing a
Diploma in Gender Development Studies
at Egerton University. She has worked as a

H
laboratory technician at the Kenya Coopera-
tive Creameries, and served as a director of
on Liz Chelule joined ment to intervene and help solve the problems the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya for three years,
elective politics to give that distressed pyrethrum growers. The MP between 2003 and 2006.
the people of Kuresoi told us off, saying that he was not obligated Liz believes leadership is in-born and not ac-
Constituency, Nakuru, to help us. That provoked me and I decided quired through works. Her very first leadership
better political represen- to run for his parliamentary seat, and told the opportunity was as a head girl at Kaplong Girls
tation. She remembers group of farmers as much, Liz recalls. High School in Kericho County. She is also a
an incident in 2002 that That incident occurred just months before development initiator in her constituency. She
jolted her into politics. The peace advocate the 2002 general election and Liz contested worked with teams advocating for peace in Na-
and some pyrethrum farmers met their then on a National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) ticket kuru after the 2002 general election. Their com-
area MP to request him to lobby the govern- and lost. She contested again in 2007 and mon objective was to cultivate unity between

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the communities. After the disputed 2007 gen- often the better off financially do not support ence, but let them see you in action. Make
eral election, Liz was again among local leaders them. Women aspiring for political leadership yourself accessible to them, dont think that
in Nakuru who campaigned for peace and unity should not focus on the obstacles along the youll stay in Nairobi all the time and only re-
between the conflicting communities. way but on their goals, she advises. emerge in your constituency at election time
Through the Gender Equity Network She adds that women should start by and win a seat, she adds from experience.
(GEN), which she formed in 2008 after the working with the people on the ground and A member of KEWOPA, she is happy the
elections, Liz traversed Nakuru area imple- following up with consistency of goals and association offers women parliamentarians
menting peace initiatives and giving civic implementation of programmes, coupled with a good forum to exchange ideas. She how-
education. The senator has in the last five courage pays. If youre keen on getting into ever suggests that KEWOPA should start to
years enlightened communities about em- politics, do not let anyone or past failures work with women in the rural areas towards a
powerment of women, the youth and people discourage you. Breaking into politics is not stronger political future.
with disability, through the affirmative ac- easy but it can be done. I have remained per- The Senator who is popularly known as
tion, to enhance their participation in elective sistent and continued to work for the people Mama Chemu intends to sponsor legislation
politics. I believe leadership in me is in-born even after failing to win a seat, she advises. aimed at financing womens projects, such as
and with or without a platform, Ill continue As a way of ensuring high performance of improving the Womens Enterprise Fund. She
to exercise it, she says. women in elections, Liz advices women po- also plans to introduce a motion to reduce
Twice, Liz represented women in the litical leaders to reach out more to their elec- interest rates charged on loans from African
constitutional review process as a delegate torate and participate in and enhance civic Farmers Corporation to farmers from the cur-
representing Nakuru at the Bomas of Kenya education initiatives in their respective com- rent 10 percent down to 3 to 5 percent. Shell
Constitutional Conference. That was a great munities, because men already have an upper further push for a fund to be established
learning opportunity, she says. In the count- hand due to cultural gender issues. Make to assist farmers in mitigating crop failure
down to the new constitution, she served for sure the voters are not just sensing your pres- caused by diseases and the impact of envi-
three year. She had earlier served in the same ronmental changes.
capacity ahead of the 2005 referendum. She sits in the House Committee on Ag-
The farmer turned politician says her riculture, Land and Natural Resources, and
years of campaigning for a parliamentary the Committee on Delegated Legislation.
seat have taught her that a lot has to be done The jovial senator is concerned that most of
to level the ground for women in politics. For the female nominated Senators in the House
instance, while she got support from women
I believe do not have a vote on motions that touch on
voters, most confessed that their husbands leadership in me counties. She wants the rule revised. She is
dictated their voting patterns. She believes is in-born and among the special team of 17 Senators the
there is still need for an enhanced civic edu- House selected to come up with legislation
cation on the ground to empower women vot-
with or without to determine the amount of money investors
ers and aspirants. a platform, Ill are to pay as royalty to counties. The select
The other challenges women politicians continue to committee will also draw the criteria to guide
face, she says, are lack of financial support and how revenues from natural resources are
retrogressive cultural mindsets which cause exercise it. shared between the national government and
the electorate to undermine women candidates. the county governments. Overall she aims to
Many women have avoided politics as a result spend her term in the senate working towards
of such challenges. Those that try fail in their uplifting the standards of life of women, the
bid to join Parliament because men who are youth and people living with disability.

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A
s soon as she learnt that
her party, the United
Democratic Forum, had
nominated her to the
Senate, Hon Martha
Wangari Wanjira
pledged to vie for a
leadership position in the House. The
30-year-old embarked on a campaign
for the post of deputy speaker of the
68-member Senate. I had done a lot
of lobbying, especially among women
and the youth because I was confident I
had the ability to represent them in that
position, regardless of being a first time
member of the House, says the UDF
founder member and national treasurer.
However, she dropped her bid following
a consensus within the Amani caucus that
the position, now held by her Muranga
County colleague, Kembi Gitura, needed
someone with experience.
Senator Wanjira is a focused, motivated
and self-driven individual. She describes
herself as a self-made politician. I do
not have any history of family directly
involved in politics, I am self-made. My
interest in politics shaped up when I was
only a first year student at the University
MARTHA WANGARI
of Nairobi, says the youthful legislator.
Married with a son, the Senators
journey into active politics started when chairperson in charge of academic for young women, Warembo na Kibaki,
she was elected finance secretary of affairs. It has been a long journey, she which she headed to mobilise young
the Organisation of Nairobi University recalls. Even as she was graduating from people to campaign for President
Science Students (ONUSS) in 2004. The the university in 2007, she had joined Kibakis re-election. During the 2010
following year, she was elected again as President Kibakis campaign team as a constitutional referendum campaigns, she
the vice chairperson of ONUSS. By third community mobiliser and strategist, in joined the Yes Secretariat and served
year I was the Students Organization the Kibaki Tena secretariat. as the deputy head of logistics. Women
of Nairobi University (SONU) vice- Martha founded the lobby group must be in the thick of things because the

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political terrain has not been friendly to is the point then of nominating people facilitated to do their work as they take
us. We must come out to offer ourselves to the Senate? If we cannot vote to care of their babies.
and prove that we can be leaders, she represent the constituencies - women, Hon Wanjira who has a Bachelor of
says youth and people with disability - we Science Degree in Statistics, advises
Senator Wanjira says that her choice were nominated to represent, how can we women keen on joining politics to get
of party was given because she was influence change where it matters? involved in activities of political parties
involved in the formation of UDF and has The alumnus of Kahuhia Girls High as a starting point. Most of those who
seen it grow from a society to a political School is also troubled by the fact that have been nominated to Parliament are
party. We formed the party out of a deep Parliament is not conducive for women products of political parties, she notes.
need to change the political status quo. MPs and Senators who have babies. She She is the Deputy Secretary of KEWOPA.
We were tired of how things were being perceives this as unfair because young Apart from politics, she is the Managing
done, and so we brainstormed on the best mothers with babies are then forced to Director of Pernest Agency Limited, a
way to bring change in the country and choose between parliamentary work and media, public relations, marketing and
from that, UDF was born, she explains. raising their babies. We must accept the events management firm. She holds a Post-
She believes that UDF is a women friendly reality that since this Parliament has an graduate Diploma in Human Resource
party. Out of the 13 members of the unprecedented number of young women, Management from the Kenya Institute
executive, six are women. Even during we must expect many babies, and the of Management, and has taken a special
the election, we gave a soft landing for MPs must execute their mandates, that course on Environmental Impact Analysis
women. I am proud of the party, she notwithstanding, she says. Martha has and Environmental Audit, from Nazarene
says. UDFs presidential flag-bearer in petitioned the Parliamentary Service University. She chairs the Martha Wangari
the 2013 election was former Deputy Commission through the Senate Clerk, Foundation and is a board member of
Prime Minister, Musalia Mudavadi. to help ensure that young mothers are various academic institutions.
The sociable Senator blends well with
her colleagues at the Senate. She is the
vice-chairperson of the nine-member
Sessional Committee on Devolved
Government, whose key responsibility
is to monitor and ensure devolution is
implemented and county governments
succeed. She is also a member of the Women must be in the thick of things
Standing Committee on Energy, Roads because the political terrain has not been
and Transportation, but regrets that
nominated women Senators do not have
friendly to us. We must come out to offer
a vote in the House. ourselves and prove that we can be leaders.
The Constitution and Senate Standing
Orders require that nominated members
delegate their votes on county matters,
and only cast their votes with the elected
senators as the delegation leaders. What

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D
espite many
unsuccessful bids for
Parliamentary seats,
Senator Mvita Kisasa
Mshenga never
lost her dream of
becoming an elected
leader. All along I knew that I would
always be a leader in every stage of my
life. I had this strong belief that leaders
are born and I was in that group, she
says. When she was selected as a prefect
in primary school it never occurred to
me that this leadership would eventually
be elevated to that of a political nature,
she says.
Popularly known as Mama Mlezi
(guardian mother) by the communities
she has worked with over the years in
Kilifi and other parts of the Coast, the
former nurse and midwife joined active
politics as a candidate in the 1997
general election. She was unsuccessful in
that first bid for the Bahari Parliamentary
seat, but she remained hopeful. Mvita
continued to work with women and
the youth, giving civic education and
empowering the unemployed youth and
those in the informal sector in Kilifi.
MVITA MSHENGA
In 2013, the married mother of five
- three boys and two girls - prepared
to run for the newly created Kilifi those campaigning for URPs candidates her in appreciation of the work she did in
North Parliamentary seat on a URP and was part of the team coordinating a region that was firmly behind ODM and
ticket. Unfortunately, she was forced the presidential campaign for Jubilees its presidential candidate, Raila Odinga.
to withdraw from the race following Coalition Presidential flag-bearer, Uhuru Senator Mshenga says that the
protracted negotiations within the party. Kenyatta. campaigns had numerous hurdles. At
For her sacrifice, URP leader and now When the Jubilee Coalition emerged the Coast region, it was particularly
Deputy President, William Ruto, promised victorious, URP did not let her down. The challenging for women aspirants because
her nomination to the Senate. She joined party fulfilled its promise and nominated of the insecurity and tension created by

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the presence of the Mombasa Republic She says that the fact that Parliament now anything else. Land issues are thorny and
Council (MRC) Militia. We were very has an unprecedented number of women, touchy and I believe as leaders, we have
scared and as a result, we started off from courtesy of the current Constitution, is a responsibility to tackle and address
a disadvantaged position. We could not an inspiration. The soft spoken, but firm them once and for all, says the legislator.
come out at night to campaign because leader says consistent good performance She praises the various stakeholders
of the insecurity, she says. I am glad of women in the Senate and National involved in civic education focusing
it ended very well for me. I am now a Assembly is evidence that they are equal on women, ahead of the elections.
Senator and I have the Deputy President to the task. In particular she praises KEWOPA
in particular and the party to thank. Senator Mshenga plans to introduce for helping to empower women
Mvita describes herself as motivated, proposals that will eventually become law Parliamentarians particularly the new
hardworking and always eager to learn. on matters relating to land at the Coast. ones. I have attended many important
She is the chairperson of the nine-member At the Coast you cannot talk about workshops that are an eye-opener for me,
Delegated Legislation Committee, making courtesy of KEWOPA. That is why I keep
history in Kenyas first Senate as the first asking my colleagues never to take any of
woman to head a House Committee. Hers those workshops for granted, she says.
is also the only committee at the Senate Recalling an incident that saw her
whose leadership is an all-woman affair. assist a woman give birth at one of the
At the Coast you
The vice chairperson is Senator Judith ferry crossings at the Coast, the senator
Sijeny, a lawyer and womens rights cannot talk about says that her nursing skills remain close
campaigner. I am very humbled by the anything else. Land to her heart, even with her new status as
confidence my colleagues showed in me a Parliamentarian. I always walk with my
issues are thorny and
by picking me to chair the team. I am midwifery tools in my bag. I dont leave
also elated that they overlooked the fact touchy and I believe them behind, she says.
that I am not a lawyer, she says. as leaders, we have a Mshenga also holds a Diploma in
She draws a lot of support and Sales and Marketing from the University
responsibility to tackle
inspiration in her new leadership role of Nairobi. Previously she worked at the
from Nominated MP, Amina Abdalla, who and address them once Aga Khan Hospital and Coast General
has been in Parliament since 2002. The and for all. Provincial Hospital, both in Mombasa.
senator is also a member of the Sessional She likes cooking, swimming, indoor
Committee on Devolved Government. games, current affairs and travelling.

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According to her website,


naisulalesuuda-peacefoundation.org, the
Senator is a founding member of The Peace
Caravan, an initiative for the promotion
of peace by collecting and broadcasting
peace related news, lobbying and visiting
communities in conflict. The Peace
Caravan brings together professionals
from different communities that have
experienced conflict for many years. It
has worked mainly with pastoralists from
the Samburu, Pokot, Turkana, Rendille
and Borana Communities.
In the run-up to the 2010 Constitution
Referendum, Senator Lesuuda and
her colleagues in the peace initiative
successfully went to areas considered hot
spots for politically instigated violence,
especially in the Rift Valley, to sensitise
the communities on peace, in a bid to
prevent conflict. I utilised my excellent
communication and negotiation skills to
send peace messages articulately to the
people living in those areas, including
Laikipia and Samburu Central, she says.
Naisula documented this initiative

NAISULA LESUUDA in a report titled: The Peace Caravan,


the impact, lessons learnt and the
communities view of sustainable peace.
As a result, then President Mwai Kibaki,

A
awarded her the prestigious Order of the
t 29, Senator Naisula and worked as a reporter and news an- Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW), for her
Lesuuda is one of the chor at the station for six years. My com- efforts in promoting peace among warring
youngest members of ing into politics actually started when I communities in the country. In 2011, she
the Senate. Kenyans got involved in peace work. People got was again awarded the Wedge Award for
may remember her as to know that I could be a key person in Outstanding Professional Women by the
the youthful face on Ke- the community, she begins. She had pre- International Labour Organization (ILO).
nya Broadcasting Cor- viously worked as an information officer The youthful yet authoritative Senator
porations (KBC) television station. She documenting lessons learnt in Somalia, was thrust into active politics in the run-
hosted the Good Morning Kenya show for Diakonia, a development organisation. up to the 2013 general election when she

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campaigned for TNA and presidential her interaction with them in her former
candidate, Uhuru Knyatta. In Samburu, employment as a KBC journalist.
the politics was complicated and we Although she appreciates that the
realised that we had to do a lot of work to 11th Parliament has an unprecedented
rally support for our candidate, she says. number of women, she feels that those I am worried that
When TNA emerged victorious, she was in leadership must do more to push for we appear to be
among those nominated to the Senate. gender equality and equity in political making gains
She attributes her nomination to her leadership. I am worried that we appear
peace advocacy work in the grassroots, to be making gains and then falling and then falling
contribution to the presidential back to where we started and this is an back to where we
campaigns in Samburu and the political indication that we have to work a lot started and this is
mentorship she received from Samburu more, she notes in reference to the fact
County Women Representative, Maison that Kenyans did not elect any female an indication that
Leshoomo. Senator or Governor. Naisula believes we have to work a lot
The Communications and Community that even as the pledge for affirmative more.
Development Graduate from Daystar action in Parliament stands, women
University finds herself suddenly thrust leaders must do a lot of civic education
into numerous leadership roles within such as sensitising communities on the
the Senate. She is the current deputy need to elect more women. Naisula adds
chairperson of KEWOPA, and was recently that women hoping to get elected to the director of Kristo13 Media and
elected deputy organising secretary of Parliament must go for other seats instead Communication Consultancy Firm, and
the Pastoralists Parliamentary Association. of just eyeing the exclusive county will continue working as a rights and
It is a whole new experience for me but womens representative seat. peace crusader, trainer and facilitator.
I am confident that I will do my best, She serves in the joint Committee In 2013, she established the Naisula
she says of her new status. A go-getter, on Parliamentary Broadcasting and Lesuuda Peace Foundation through which
Naisula is an active member of the Senate, Library, and the Senate Committee on she will continue to work with the youth
where she has distinguished herself as an Agriculture, Land and Natural Resources, in pastoral communities, and especially
eloquent debater. All Im doing now is and remains a member of the Association with the reformed youths. I intend to do a
to read more to understand the Standing of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), and lot of work with them, to rehabilitate them
Orders of the House, she says. Naisula the International Association of Women in and make their lives more meaningful
attributes her ease in relating to her more Radio and Television (IWART). and ensure they remain peaceful, she
seasoned colleagues in the Senate to A jack of many trades, Naisula is concludes.

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H
on Zipporah Kittony
was thinking about
retirement in 2012
when a call she
couldnt ignore and a
request she couldnt
turn down interrupted
her plans. When the United Nations calls
you, you just cant walk away. The UN
wanted her to join eight other eminent
persons to visit violence hotspots around
Kenya to speak about the need for peace
and prevent a repeat of the violence that
flared up after the 2007 general election.
We went to the conflict areas, assembled
the leaders, the people affected in various
ways by the conflict, particularly the
youth, and talked about the repercussions
of 2007. We talked with the people and
agreed on the need to maintain peace no
matter what. I must say that the nine of us
who worked on that project were proud of
ourselves. We were successful, she says.
The UN-appointed team visited Tana
River, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nyanza
and Mombasa, and a few other parts of

ZIPPORAH KITTONY
the country that had experienced the
most violence in 2008. These were areas
that could have easily returned to violent
reactions after the 2013 elections. The
team engaged the people with logic and
emotional appeal, leading them to make the
decisions that would ensure lasting peace. assigned us jobs equally. I never saw the peoples needs and a desire to help,
That project went well for the 70-year-old any form of discrimination among my former President Daniel arap Moi was a
Senator, who has been in leadership for brothers and sisters. Our parents made a family friend and frequented our home on
most of her life. After the general election, duty roster that had tasks for each one of visits, she explains.
KANU nominated her to the Senate, and us every day, she recalls. She attributes When Moi went to Kapsabet and got
again she put on hold her retirement plans. this enlightening upbringing to her father married, Zipporah lived with his family.
Zipporah believes that her upbringing who was a teacher and a church elder. She was still a part of the family when Moi
prepared her for leadership. I was born One may wonder then how she ended up was selected to represent the Rift Valley in
in a family of nine girls and three boys. a politician. Other than the fact that my the Legislative Council in 1955. That is
My parents were liberated because they fathers church leadership exposed me to the time I developed an interest in politics.

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He became and is still my role model. He political leadership is in-born, because I grew because of the significant role they play in
has helped me a lot in my own political up and found things moving in that direction the social and economic aspects right from
career. I owe a lot of my successes to him. and thats what became of me - a successful and the home, she observes.
Thankfully he has been close to me all my seasoned politician, she says. The Senator is proud that women have
life, she explains. Kenyas first party at independence, made significant strides in leadership in
A former chairperson of Maendeleo KANU, was the natural option for Zipporah Kenya. She recalls how significant the
Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO), who has never thought of leaving it. Looking contribution of women like Priscilla Abwao,
Senator Kittony attended Kapropita at a picture of Jubilee women politicians the first woman in LEGCO, and Grace
Primary School and then Kapsabet Girls meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta and Onyango, the first woman in Parliament,
Secondary School. Kapsabet was the only Deputy President William Ruto at the has been to womens leadership in Kenya.
girls secondary school in the Rift Valley Kenyatta International Conference Centre Currently we are 18 women Senators and 68
at the time. She later re-joined Kapropita in March 2013, Zipporah jokes that she has women MPs. That achievement has taken a
when it was elevated to a secondary school. always reminded President Uhuru that his struggle, and a good one, although weve not
She completed her education at Kapsabet heart and blood are KANU. That is what I reached the two-thirds majority. We are still
Teachers Training College, and became a was telling him when that picture was taken. on the journey till we achieve and comply
teacher in the 1950s. Zipporah worked at You see the way were both laughing? she with the two-thirds rule, she emphasises.
the Family Planning Association of Kenya as points out, before bursting into soft chuckles. Women Senators act like sisters and
a field officer in Kericho from 1954 to 1970. According to Zipporah, parties are Zipporah is happy with that. It was her
When she joined the World Assembly of sacred and one should not hop from joy when two motions brought forth by
Youth, Zipporah got immersed in politics. one to another. That is the reason she has fellow women were passed and adopted.
Through the organisation, Zipporah was remained in KANU in good and bad times. Her main aim during her term in Senate
among youth who traversed the region Her latest test of dedication was the internal is to ensure that the Jubilee manifesto is
doing seminars on youth and population wrangling that forced President Uhuru to implemented. She would also like to see
development. The aim of the programme move out and form TNA. I stay where I am Kenyan youth become more empowered to
was to encourage young people to be self- and work from within, criticising from within engage in more useful activities that will
reliant and to understand development and and so on. Im that kind of person and thats develop the country. She is also keen on
family planning. In 1976, she was promoted how I have survived. Thats why Im here the implementation of the free maternity
to the position of senior programme officer now sitting very proudly and confidently, care. There are many things that I would
for East and Central Africa and continued she says. Zipporah believes in and has like to see accomplished, she concludes.
running the programme handsomely and championed for womens empowerment. She Senator Kittony is the vice chairperson of
proudly she says. I still get stopped in the hopes to one day see them elevated to their the House Committee on Health, Labour
streets by people I dont recognise and they rightful place in society and in leadership and Social Welfare.
thank me for how the work I did through the
World Assembly of Youth transformed their
lives, she says proudly. The programme
enabled Zipporah to attend conferences in I stay where I am and work from within, criticising
the region and around the world. from within and so on. Im that kind of person and
She recalls in particular a meeting in New
York in September 1971 where she read the thats how I have survived. Thats why Im here now
resolution of the youth to the United Nations sitting very proudly and confidently.
General Assembly. I believe that my exposure
to the issues of empowerment of women and

page | 172
86 AND COUNTING | WOMEN LEADERS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT

Notes

page | 173
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