Know your woman rep.
Two years since they were elected, there has been a widespread outcry that the seat of women representatives has lost meaning as the occupants are arguably yet to prove their usefulness. Eve Woman asked the women how they have been keeping busy.
11. COUNTY: Laikipia
NAME: Jane Machira Apollos
INTERVIEW: James Munyeki
Laikipia women Representative Jane Apollos boasts of being among the few women MPs who have been pushing the agenda of women, youth and the minorities in the National Assembly.
This she says has brought into effect the Affirmative Social Action Fund that will be disbursed to women representatives in the country.
At the County level, she boasts of launching table banking initiative with Mrs Racheal Ruto which she says has now taken root in the county.
"This has been a boost to most of local women who have now uplifted their lifestyles as they now engage in small business," she says.
Another achievement she says is lobbying for the taxation of the large scale ranchers who were not paying tax for their income in their ranches in Laikipia.
"Since I was elected I have persistently worked with the national government to ensure peace and security in the county. This has seen security personnel be deployed in various parts of Laikipia County," she adds.
Apollos says the main challenge since she went to Parliament has been lack of a development fund, such as CDF which they can use to championed development in the county.
Women in Laikipia County face challenges including endemic poverty and a lack of enabling environment to develop.
"I will be addressing these issues as soon as we receive the Affirmative Social Action Fund," she notes.
Her agenda for the remaining term is to promote talent in the county through music, theatre, traditional festivals, Table banking and microfinance for the marginalized communities and installation of market lights in rural market centers.
12. COUNTY: Machakos
NAME: Susan Musyoka
INTERVIEW: Sylvia Wakhisi
Dr Susan Musyoka's goal is to initiate projects geared towards economic empowerment of the youth, women and marginalized groups as well as promote high education standards in the county of Machakos.
She is a medical doctor who has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and runs a private health facility in Machakos town.
She says she has been visiting schools in every sub-county together with MACUSA (Machakos University Students Association) to give mentorship talks to young people and encouraging them on the importance of excelling in their education.
"I want to motivate both the boys and girls to take their school work seriously if they want to have a bright future. Last year, I visited some schools in Mwala, Yatta, Matungulu and Masinga constituencies and I must say that they posted quite some good results in their national exams. I realised that a word of encouragement goes a long way in changing one's attitude towards some things," she says.
According to Musyoka, 40 business women from her county have also undergone intensive training on procurement which was done in partnership with KAWBO (Kenya Association of Business Women Owners).
"I am also working together with the Gender Based Violence committee in the county whereby we have been going round educating men and women on issues to do with gender based violence and some of the measures to curb it as well as the Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Property Act. We give them talks on what laws exist and how they should report certain happenings," she says.
She goes on to say that she has partnered with Coca-Cola to train women on entrepreneurship.
"We give them a kit with two crates of soda and a cool box then do a follow-up on their progress," she says.
She has also initiated table banking and established the Machakos County Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Limited where women, youths and persons with disability can access loans. So far, the sacco has attracted 1,000 members.
Her biggest challenge has been reaching all the eight constituencies in Machakos yet she does not have a kitty to carry out her activities.
She is married to a businessman and they have three children.
13. COUNTY: Makueni
NAME: Rose Mumo Museo
INTERVIEW: Sylvia Wakhisi
The Makueni women representative previously worked with ActionAid Kenya for 19 years rising through the ranks to become its Programme Officer. She then became the Director for Women/Children Ministries at the Seventh Day Adventist church headquarters.
"It was an elective position which I held for two terms but left mid-term to join politics, amid a lot of pressure from both men and women in Makueni. Women have a say and a big role to play when it comes to leadership hence men should not tell them to go but rather they need to support them," says Museo.
Citing lack of water as the biggest challenge that has for a long time affected the people of Ukambani, Museo says she has come up with an initiative that seeks to address the water challenge in her county by ensuring that every household owns a water tank.
"So far, women in Makueni have been able to purchase water tanks from the proceeds they get out of merry go rounds, table banking and the Women Enterprise Fund. So far, I am happy to say that about 800 households own a water tank. My aim is to ensure that by 2016 every home has a water tank," says Museo.
She has also been at the fore front in introducing mentorship programmes for the women in her county.
"I have realized that the small things that make up a woman are not addressed. I have sought to identify women who dropped out of school either in class 8 or at the high school level and are willing to go back to school. So far, we have about 400 women who are ready to take up the challenge and we are now trying to identify schools which will be willing to take them in so that they can be studying during the school holidays. This programme is dubbed 'A Second Chance', she explains.
"Through bursaries, I hope that these women will be able to get the education they so much desire." She hopes to draft a Bill on the same.
Museo, whose county has six constituencies and 30 wards, has been able to introduce training programmes for women from four constituencies in rearing chicken and how to treat them.
"I have equally managed to support women to form 30 committees registered as community based organizations and also as company limited, to enable them secure the 30 per cent procurement given to women. These structures will go a long way to help both men and women own and control their development agenda," she says.
Her biggest challenge she says is too much expectation from the electorate yet as women reps they do not have a fund.
"Over the weekends you are required to move around the county and you meet hungry people, jobless youths who expect a lot of help from you. They do not understand how you can fail to attend a funeral, help an ailing woman somewhere in the village and you end up spending a lot of energy explaining to them that you have run out of money," she says.
Her goal is to see to it that women from her county are more economically empowered using locally available resources and that they build their confidence in vying for leadership seats both at county and national level.
She is married to one Barnabas Munyao, a civil servant and they have been blessed with a daughter who is pursuing her Masters at University of Nairobi.
14. COUNTY: Mandera
NAME: Fathia Mahbub
INTERVIEW: Sylvia Wakhisi
Mahbub's strong desire to represent Mandera in the 11th parliament came at the peak of her career as a branch manager in a leading bank in Nairobi. But resigning from her job to assume a leadership position in a conservative community where women are supposed to take a back seat was just the beginning of her efforts to transform the lives of people in Mandera, a county that she says has been faced with too much poverty and insecurity.
She attests that due to insecurity, various development plans and projects have been put on hold.
"We had to cancel the launch of the Beyond Zero mobile clinic by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta a few months ago. The Deputy President's wife Rachel Ruto was also supposed to visit the county to launch the table banking concept but the event did not materialise due to security concerns. This has greatly affected the development of our county and I hope a lasting solution can be found," says Fathia.
Despite that, she has been able to initiate peace programmes with women from the warring clans in Mandera and source for scholarships for needy students in high school and university.
She has also been able to get 120 wheelchairs from donors and textbooks from the Kenya Literature Bureau both of which she is soon going to distribute in the sub-counties. She also managed to get food and non-food items from donors which she hopes to distribute in one of the sub-counties where the Internally Displaced Persons reside. This will be the second distribution phase having done the first phase sometime last year.
"Though as women representatives we lack a kitty from the national government, we cannot just sit back and watch as people from our counties suffer. We have to dig into our pockets and help where we can," she says.
In the next financial year, Fathia hopes that she will be able to address the 30 per cent procurement for the special groups and support other value addition initiatives.
"Through Uwezo Fund, I have empowered the youth and women and it has since gone a long way to benefit them," she says.
Fathia says another big challenge the county has faced is the issue of gender based violence.
"Several weeks ago, you heard the story of a 16-year-old girl who was severely burnt by her husband. That is not the only case as there are many cases of violence taking place yet they are hidden. They are not addressed in a proper way as you only see a group of elders sitting under a tree discussing the matter and no justice is served. We hope to have zero rate of gender based violence in the county and are encouraging any victim to speak out," she says.
She has also started a campaign to encourage parents to educate their girls.
"Many girls in the county lack opportunities in terms of education. Many are subjected to early marriages and even forced to undergo female genital mutilation. Through civic campaigns, this is something that I hope to change," says Fathia.
She is married with five children.
15. COUNTY: Meru
NAME: Florence Kajuju
INTERVIEW: Sylvia Wakhisi
Kajuju has been visible and vocal. She is an Advocate of the High Court who was born and brought up in the county she now represents.
According to her, some of the problems she came face to face with before she even embarked on her political journey centered on miraa, a crop that is largely grown in the area and during her campaigns, the people of Meru were interested to find out what strategies she would devise to address the challenges.
Kajuju says she chose miraa as her platform because it is a family issue. According to her, many people do not understand miraa. They view it as a drug but through research they want to move miraa to another level.
"Many families in the county depend on miraa for their income. It's a community affair. But we have not isolated other women issues in the county since my goal is to improve their status in every way that I can," says Kajuju.
She has fought for the right for miraa to be recognised as a scheduled crop under the Crops Act.
"I brought into parliament a motion on miraa which was debated and a special committee was formed to visit and look into issues to do with miraa. Recommendations were then made to recognise miraa as a cash crop and we are awaiting the gazzetment," she says.
Other than miraa, Kajuju has been able to start and spearhead mentorship programmes for girls within the county.
She offers: "Young girls in the village, especially in primary school have lacked access to sanitary towels, something that affects girl child education. Through my foundation, the Florence Kajuju Foundation Trust in partnership with Girl Child Education Network, Kenya Methodist University among other partners, we have been able to see to it that we provide sanitary towels for these young girls so that they do not miss out on their school days."
Women empowerment is also close to her heart hence she has seen to it that they partner with
JOYWO (Joyful Women Organisation) which was formed to empower Kenyan women economically and enhance house-hold food security among them through supporting their involvement in livelihood projects. So far, 8,000 women in Meru County are registered.
Kajuju cites the challenge for lack of a fund for women representatives as one factor that has slowed down their progression.
"When we came to parliament, we drafted a Bill which was rejected. We came up with regulations to see to it that we are provided with a fund. 2.1 billion has been set aside for the women reps and we are just waiting for the board to be gazzeted. Once that fund is made available, it means that women representatives will be able to serve their counties much better. We are hoping that the money can be released before the next financial year," she says.
And what does she have to say concerning the proposal by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to scrap women representative seats and nominated MPs?
"We have come together as women in Parliament and women in the Judicial Service Commission. We cannot afford to forget the long toil and lose out on the gains made by women," says Kajuju.
She adds: "It is not fair that money is being wasted on corruption yet when it comes to increasing the number of women in representation, it becomes a big issue. We have to increase capacity building for our women and youth because politics is not just a man's affair; it is also a woman's affair."
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Eve Digital Telegram channel HERE.