Dr Gogo: I want to change stigma on women leadership

Rangwe Member of Parliament Dr Lilian Gogo who is eyeing the seat in the August poll hopes her performance in the past five years has endeared her even more to the more than 52,000 voters.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • The five years Dr Lilian Gogo has served as MP have given her a chance to transform her constituency, and secure her place in the political space.
  • The MP initiated sensitization and empowerment programmes.
  • She is also happy with the success of her street lighting project, which has increased security in major trading centres.

When Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo was elected in 2017, few people thought she would emerge a force to reckon with.

The five years she has served as MP have given her the opportunity to transform her constituency, and secure her place in the political space.

It is because of her practical solutions to difficult issues that the constituents nicknamed her Alili Panadol, meaning like the painkiller drug, she is the cure for their education, health, infrastructure, and water needs, among others.

“The challenge for me to deliver was massive. Being my first time in parliament, the expectations were high and I have tried my level best not to let down my constituents,” says Dr Gogo.

True to her nickname, Dr Gogo has managed to help the women, youth and other groups in her community to overcome many obstacles.

Among them was the huge arrears the youth and women groups had accumulated after failing to repay funds borrowed from the national government’s Uwezo Fund, Women and Youth Development Funds.

The MP initiated sensitization and empowerment programmes, which led to the arrears being cleared, with more women and youth being able to benefit further from these funds.

In the financial year 2019-20, the National Youth Fund allocated Sh20 million to Rangwe Constituency, out of which Sh14 million was dispersed to youth-led projects. The balance is pending because of what the MP describes as: “Poor intake and sensitization.”

17 locations

In the education sector, Dr Gogo used the National Constituency Development funds (NCDF) to buy and equip one school each in the 17 locations with a school bus.

This ambitious project has helped to promote education, educational trips, sports and extra curriculum activities as well as addressing the transport needs of the students, teachers, and outlying communities. She has further used the CDF to upgrade school buildings and putting up four classrooms, a laboratory and dormitory in all the 17 locations.

Her tenure has witnessed the building and equipping of the Rangwe Sub-county headquarters, whose objective is to bring services closer to the people. The projects has also created job opportunities to the locals. Once complete, the offices will save the residents the time and pain of traveling to the county headquarters in Homa Bay, more than 20km away to seek services.  The buildings are 70 per cent complete.

Dr Gogo is also happy with the success of her street lighting project, which has increased security in major trading centres, a development that has encouraged traders to work late in the night and reap benefits from their businesses.

“We have flood lights erected at Asumbi trading centre, thanks to the partnership with the national government. These lighting is also helping to enhance security for our girls at Asumbi Teachers Training College and Asumbi Girls High School,” says Dr Gogo.

In Parliament, she moved a private member’s motion in 2021, to have an amendment to the Children’s Act. But the initiative was taken over by the government.

Says the Rangwe MP: “The national government hijacked my Bill and moved it as a government Bill; it is still pending after the second reading. It aims at interpreting what it means to have the best interest. This had been left in the hands of the judges to interpret.”

Justice system

The highlights of the amendment include; to get the age of criminal liability raised from eight years to 12 years; provide how children are to be handled in the criminal justice system; and how adoption of children can, and should be done. The Bills are still pending in parliament.

Still, the credit for initiating such amendments goes to her. Dr Gogo is equally happy she has achieved many of the promises she made to her constituents in her manifesto.

She hopes her performance in the past five years has endeared her even more to the more than 52,000 voters.

Says a confident Dr Gogo, former food safety lecturer at Egerton University: “My electorates know that I am a no pushover; I say what I do and do what I say. In the past five years since I was elected, I have achieved so much for them as per my 2017 manifesto. The major one has been getting 85 per cent of the youth and women to access devolve funds.”

In 2017 when she was elected, she did not know much about politics. But the past five years have taught her a lot.

“Leadership requires patience. I was taught to say no when something is wrong; and this has helped me to remain focused because there are many detractors out there. My strongest point is my integrity.”

Political party

Dr Gogo has also learnt how best to survive in politics. Being loyal to the political party that sponsored one to parliament and listening to wise counsel. “You cannot be a good leader if you cannot allow yourself to be led,” says the first-term MP.

Some of these lessons are as result of the challenges she has had to contend with. One of them is many people did not believe that a woman could lead them. Her performance in her first term has changed these negative perceptions and attitudes of locals to positive ones about women’s leadership.

She is happy that the challenge of political violence is not as prominent as in 2017.

“Political violence was a challenge then, but I am glad to report that it is no longer such a big issue thanks to the sensitization and empowerment programmes in the constituency. It is something I am still working on,” says Dr Gogo who is currently pursuing a law degree at University of Nairobi.

She has decided to conduct a clean campaign devoid of name-calling, hate speech and promoting the bad culture of giving handouts to the public, which are some of the things that trigger violence.

Funding, like in 2017, remains a major challenge to her and other women leaders vying for political positions. Unless someone comes to hold their hand, she says, it is a difficult journey.

But Dr Gogo says despite of these challenges, she wants to change stigma on women leadership. “I want to change this narration and I am already supporting other women who have leadership qualities and would like to plunge into politics, like me.”

For now, even with this sterling performance and showing that women leadership transforms lives, Dr Gogo is not resting on her laurels. She is defending her seat against five male competitors.   And she hopes, her constituent will give her another chance to redefine their lives.