URP nominated MP Sarah Korere. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Sarah Korere beat the odds to become Laikipia’s first female Member of Parliament.

She was re-elected as Laikipia North MP on a Jubilee ticket, fending off stiff competition. She got 14,148 votes. Her closest challenger UDA’s Maina Munene polled 6,405 votes.

She says that she is humbled by the win, promising to continue with the foundation she had already laid.

“I also look forward to working diligently with other like-minded individuals and investors to bring meaningful development to Laikipia,” she said.

Having been born and raised in the region, she adores the culture of her people and is eager to see the area transform.

Her career in politics is a tale of passion and resilience in a male-dominated field.

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Speaking during an interview on Her Standards show aired every Saturday on KTN Home, Korere opened up about what drives her and what she would like to be remembered for.

She began the sit-down with some words of praise for Laikipia, which she describes as a place perfect for domestic tourism.

“Laikipia North has got some breath-taking lodges and sceneries. It is a tourism destination of choice. It is also known to be a home of retirement of choice by many Kenyans,” she said, adding, “You should start thinking about Laikipia if you are in the waiting room for retirement.”

Korere speaks about her decision to bring her baby to work when she first joined politics, revealing that it was the natural decision to make as a loving mother just trying to balance between life and work.

“At the time I was living in Nairobi - I didn’t have a house per se and was staying with a friend. It was difficult to even express the milk and live it there and because of all those hurdles, I felt that I shouldn’t have to choose between one and the other. I could juggle between both and that is how I decided to take my baby to work,” she said.

She had a three-week-old baby.

“I felt that at that point I did not want to have to choose between my child and work. I’m a staunch believer, supporter and more so a campaigner of the six- months exclusive breastfeeding of a newborn,” she said.

“I’m thinking of a young mother, with a few weeks-old baby. Then you just have a new house help and somebody wants you to leave the child with a person you barely just met.”

Korere then petitioned Parliament to invest in a special room for nursing mothers, her efforts leading to a beautiful space being created for them within the building.

“Even the young women who come after us and the staff there will feel comfortable bringing their young ones to work without a lot of disruption about how the baby is doing back home. Women shouldn’t feel like they have to compromise and reject work opportunities because they have a child.”

She urges society to recognise that children are not a burden and shouldn’t be looked at as such.

The MP went from being a teacher to a promising political career and a leader in her community, which has long-standing, deep cultural beliefs and a largely patriarchal belief system.

“I’ve been a very strong advocate of the people’s rights from my days in school. I was that person who would not shy away from pointing out the inadequacies of an administration,” she said.

“By the time I began working as a teacher, I was doing a lot of advocacy. I felt that the classroom was too small a room for me to play. I thought that while I was concentrating at school, so many things were happening out there and in need of a resolution. So I moved from the classroom to civil societies.”

Before going into politics, Korere was a staff at the electoral commission where she rubbed shoulders with politicians some of whom inspired her to take on the career she had admired for far too long.

“When the electoral commission was disbanded, we were re-deployed by the government to other departments. I turned down the offer, of a District Officer position in Kilifi, in order to go back and tend to my community,” she said.

Her big chance came when the women’s representative seat was created. She vied but was unsuccessful.

“Luckily I was nominated to Parliament and from then I have never looked back.”

“When I got to Parliament, at the back of my mind I knew that I would not look for another nomination but I would hit the ground running and that is exactly what I did.”

Korere has been an anti Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) crusader.

“When we were growing up, FGM was not a problem. Because if you did not go through it, there was a lot of ridicule. On resuming school from the holidays, you’d find a lot of your classmates have gone through it. So if you hadn’t, you would be the odd one out. It’s a very strong cultural activity among the Maasais,” she said.

She added: “I know many instances where girls died during the procedure. Sometimes you would get scared but you know that at the end of the day you will have to do it. When a girl was going through the cut and she died, this information was hushed and no one was allowed to talk about it.”

Korere campaigns against the practice, and says that working with religious institutions has helped reduce it greatly. “We aren’t there yet in this fight, a lot of work needs to be done. There is a law outlawing the FGM, but we are not seeing the enforcement the way it really should be.”

Korere also says that every woman needs a role model to thrive in all areas of life.

“Young career women should look for role models, older women who can hold their hands. When I first went to bunge, I did not have a role model. But when I met Charity Ngilu, she mentored me. She told me to run for MP when I said to her I wanted to run for the women’s rep position in 2017,” she said.

“Millie Odhiambo and Peris Tobiko also told me about what they had gone through as they came before me. It prepared me, and without knowledge of such, I would have broken.”

Korere said that she would like to be remembered for her efforts in education and working for peaceful co-existence among communities.