Hon. Dr. Joyce Laboso the Governor-elect of Bomet county in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, made history when she became one of the first women ever elected for that position in the just concluded elections.
Hon. Laboso, is not a newcomer to the political space, she previously served as an elected Member of Parliament in the previous house. Before joining politics, she was a lecturer at Egerton University, in Eldoret and joined politics to fill her sister’s shoes, former MP in Sotik, who perished in a plane crash in 2008. Within a few years, she rose to be the Kenya’s first female Deputy Speaker and this year she unseated a male incumbent Governor who was also a leading principal of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), which makes her feat all the more remarkable.
Following her victory, Hon. Laboso noted that, “for the first time in Kenya’s history we have women in the country’s top leadership. The three elected women Governors represent the coming to age of the struggle for gender equality that started more than 40 years ago… we are not there yet, we have not achieved the much-required gender equality in this country but our election is a major progressive step in the right direction. As office holders, our mission is to improve the lives of all those constituents who voted for us entrusting us with the responsibility to lead and deliver on the pledges we made to them during our campaign.”
She has already put into motion her first 100 days plan which is centered around three key issues which will appeal to and address the well-being of women, men and children in the county. She started by having a conversation with her people on their priorities and articulating a way of working that is inclusive and encourages participation of all.
“Already from the discussions we have had in the course of my campaign there are three areas that require urgent attention, and these areas are education, health and governance. In education, the lack of facilities for our children especially in lower primary are a priority for us. It’s important to set the best foundation for the next generation and that starts at this level. In terms of health, there is a shortage of drugs in hospitals around the county and working together with my team, we are looking to also prioritize this on our agenda. Water which also has an impact on health and sanitation is a challenge in my county and also features high in our agenda for the people of Bomet and we shall ensure that the pledge we made in our manifesto to deliver water to the county shall be achieved. Finally, and most critical perhaps is the issue of governance; the lack of proper structures in governance created a lot of challenges in the implementation of projects and laws and therefore within the first few days I will work with my team and the leaders in Bomet to set up proper structures of government that will deliver effectively for the people of this county”.
UN Women Country Director Ms Zebib Kavuma Noted that the 2/3rd gender rule remains a big challenge as the numbers for the 11th parliament are still low. Kenyan women have performed better in the 2017 elections compared with the 2013. However, the number realized is still fall short of the constitutional two-third gender requirement. Indications are that, even with party nominations to top up numbers in the Senate and National Assembly, the next Parliament will not meet the not more than 2/3 gender principle.
There are 23 elected women MPs, and 47 Women representatives. There is need to nominate 47 more women in Parliament to make a total of 117 women. In the Senate, three women were elected as senators, and 16 women Senators to be nominated as per the constitution. The senate needs to nominate more than three women Senators to make it to 22 to reach the 2/3rd as required by the law
The United Nations provided technical and financial support to the general elections through the Strengthening the Electoral Process Project in Kenya (SEPK), a donor basket fund managed by UNDP. UN Women focuses on the component of increasing women participation in election. The SEPK program aims at strengthening and developing sustainable and just election institutions, systems, and processes capable of delivering a free, fair, just, transparent and credible 2017 General Elections.