The Future of Politics: Four Kenyan Women To Watch Now
It is still rare to find significant numbers of women in Kenyan politics. And with a constitutional provision calling for legislation guaranteeing no more than two-thirds of political representation be of the same gender, the potential gains for women in politics is unprecedented.
But having failed at its first chance to bring this provision (Article 81(b)) into law, Parliament has a second chance to do the constitutionally right thing by August 27, 2016.
As we wait, Dhako Media decided to look at young Kenyan women who have made their mark in politics already. You will be inspired by their achievements and their stories of perseverance. These are the four women in politics you should be watching now.
As the youngest serving Kenyan Senator, Naisula Lesuuda has been a major force in Samburu County since she took office in 2013. Her leadership skills have been noticed as she is also the deputy chair of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, which facilitates networking among women parliamentarians.
But some of her biggest contributions to Samburu County are outside the political arena. In 2013, she founded the Naisula Lesuuda Peace Foundation, an organization that works to promote peace and the empowerment of youth and women.
Before politics, Lesuuda worked as a journalist, at time in which she co-founded the Peace Caravan, an initiative that advocates for reporting peace-related news. As a result of her work with the organization, she was awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya in 2010, making her the youngest woman to ever to receive the award.
Priscilla Nyokabi is currently Nyeri County Women’s Representative to the National Assembly. In the three years since she was elected, Hon. Nyokabi has shown she is a dogged champion of women and human rights. In 2015, for example, she sponsored an Access to Information Bill in Parliament that enforces the right of every citizen to access government information. The bill is now in its final stages of being passed into law.
A lawyer-by-training, Nyokabi served as the executive director of Kituo cha Sheria, a human rights and legal aid NGO. She also served as the deputy presiding officer Eastern Africa in the African Union Permanent Assembly of the Civil Society (AU ECOSOC) and as a Media Council of Kenya complaints commissioner.
In both 2010 and 2011, she was nominated by Business Daily as one of the Top 40 under 40 women excelling in their career.
“I am a humble villager who worked hard to be what I am,” she told Business Daily. “The disconnect between me and my political detractors is that I am in public servitude as a leader seeking to mould as many as humanly possible.”
Pollyne Owoko is the Executive Director of the Forum for Young Women in Politics (FYWP) since 2013, an organization that identifies and empowers young women to run for political office and government appointments.
Before FYWP, she was the ICT and e-Government head in Nakuru County, so there is always speculation that she herself will jump back into the political ring once more. We’re here for it!
Alice Wambui Ng’ang’a
Perseverance could be Alice Wambui Ng’ang’a’s middle name. Having twice lost an election bid to represent Thika in the National Assembly, she kept going until she was elected in 2013.
As the first female MP from Kiambu, she countered discrimination from the county’s own governor who attacked her legitimacy to run for office because she was an unmarried woman. She stood unwavered and told the Daily Nation that “Thika people knew I was a single mother before they gave me 73,000 votes. One cannot purport to tell them they were wrong,” and further that she is “awfully persistent. I never lose focus on what I want. I only change tactics”.
We are searching for the next young female politicians that will run East Africa. Did we miss anyone?
Esther Kariuki is a lawyer and writer. She has written for UP Nairobi and is currently working on her first short story collection.