Kenya's first female MP Grace Onyango is dead

First woman MP Grace Onyango during an interview with The Standard at her residence in Kisumu on July 02, 2018. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Grace Onyango, Kenya's first female MP dies while undergoing treatment at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital in Kisumu.

She was elected as Kisumu Town MP in 1969.

She died at the age of 98 on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Her daughter, Pauline Akwacha confirmed the death of the celebrated trailblazer who left a commendable legacy in regard to women's leadership during her time in public service.

Akwacha described her demise as a huge blow to the family and described her as a matriarch who had the interest of the country and the progress of women at heart.

Her death came just a few hours after women across Nyanza celebrated her for her contribution to women's empowerment and inspiration to political leadership on International Women's Day.

Several leaders joined the rest of the country in mourning Grace Onyango.

They described her as an iconic woman who contributed significantly to women's empowerment and hailed her as an iconic pillar of women's leadership.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o said she broke the ceiling of leadership and was an inspiration to many people who dedicated her life to selfless service.

"Nyabungu, as we knew her, was a pillar of women's leadership and a great role model who blazed the trail in political leadership in Kenya. She broke the ceiling in leadership long before the country started the campaigns for gender parity," said Nyong'o.

Grace was among the first few women to break through a male-dominated political world by becoming the first female MP at a time when only a few women had an interest in politics.

The celebrated former MP was also the country's first female mayor in 1965. She was also the first woman secretary general of the Luo Union (East Africa) and the first woman councillor of Kaloleni ward in Kisumu.

Last year, Onyango was recognised by former Cabinet Secretary for Public Service and Gender Margaret Kobia for her contribution to women's leadership.