Empowering Women, Shattering, and Forging Change


By Isabella Maua

In a county where patriarchal traditions have historically dominated the political landscape, Bungoma stands as a shining example of the power and resilience of women in Kenyan politics.

At the forefront of this remarkable story is Janepher Mbatiany, a fearless leader determined to break barriers and challenge cultural norms. As the deputy governor for Bungoma, Mbatiany represents not only the aspirations of her community but also embodies the strength and determination that women in Kenya possess.

Hailing from the marginalised Sabot community in Mt. Elgon, Bungoma County, Mbatiany’s rise to prominence is a testament to her unwavering dedication and sheer determination.

Her journey has been fraught with challenges, as she defied cultural expectations and social norms that often discourage women from pursuing leadership roles.

Despite facing significant opposition, Mbatiany’s resolute commitment to bettering her community has garnered immense support, challenging long-standing prejudices and inspiring countless individuals along the way.

With her authentic voice and steadfastness, she has become a symbol of hope and empowerment for the women of Bungoma County.

What makes Bungoma’s story all the more exceptional is that it is not just Mbatiany standing tall; there is a rising tide of female politicians in the region who are breaking barriers and rewriting history.
These trailblazing women, like Mbatiany, are determined to bring positive change to their communities, using their positions to advocate for gender equality and inclusive governance.

Jane Chebet, Jane Cheperenger, and Joan Kirong have all served as elected and nominated Members of the Country Assembly from Mt. Elgon.

Bungoma’s success story echoes far beyond its borders, resonating with a nation grappling with gender inequality in its political landscape. These extraordinary women have proved that when given a chance, women can lead with vision, integrity, and a steadfast commitment to serve their communities.

As we delve deeper into the story of Bungoma’s female politicians, it becomes evident that their achievements are not merely confined to political success.

These women are catalysts for change, inspiring young girls and challenging societal norms by proving that gender does not determine one’s ability to holistically contribute to the development and progress of a nation.

In the face of adversity, Bungoma County has emerged as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the transformative power of female representation in politics. The determination of women like Janepher Mbatiany is breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes, and opening doors for countless others.

As Kenya celebrates a decade of progress and devolution, it is essential to reflect on the role of women in politics and their position at the decision-making table.

In a society where social-cultural norms often dominate, the advancement of female politicians has faced numerous challenges.

However, their fortitude and resilience have begun to break free from these stereotypes, leading to positive changes in gender equality and inclusive governance.

The impact of social-cultural norms in Kenya, like many African nations, holds traditional values that influence social, political, and economic structures. These norms perpetuate gender roles and inequalities that restrict the involvement of women in politics.

These issues are evident even in the political realm, including resistance to accepting women as decision-makers and the discouragement of female participation due to cultural biases.

Despite these challenges, the past decade has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the perception of female politicians in Kenya. Breaking down barriers Over the years, female politicians have proven their capabilities through their dedication, intelligence, and leadership skills.

They have actively engaged in political campaigns, mobilised support, and championed significant policies to address the needs of their constituents.

Women have demonstrated an increased desire to serve the nation, emphasising the importance of their contribution to decision-making processes.

Furthermore, advocacy groups and civil society organisations have played a vital role in empowering female politicians. These groups have conducted campaigns, training programmes, and mentorship initiatives to equip women with the skills and confidence needed to navigate the political landscape effectively.

The concerted efforts of female politicians and their supporters have yielded positive outcomes in Kenya. The country now boasts a higher representation of women in the political sphere, with increased female participation and leadership at all levels of governance.

The implementation of gender quotas and policies promoting inclusivity have resulted in the appointment of women to influential positions within government bodies.

The achievements of female politicians extend beyond their mere presence at the decision-making table. They have successfully advocated for policies and legislation that address issues faced by women, including gender-based violence, access to education, and healthcare. Through their influence, these politicians have brought meaningful change to the lives of Kenyan citizens.

As Kenya celebrates 10 years of devotion, it becomes clear that social-cultural norms have a profound impact on the position and role of female politicians. However, through their tenacity, willpower, and collaborative efforts, female politicians have managed to break through these barriers, gradually reshaping the political landscape.

As we look to the future, it is momentous to continue bracing and legitimising women in politics, ensuring that their voices and perspectives are heard and respected at the decision-making table, to promote a more inclusive and equitable society.

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