What you need to know:
- Speaker Fred Lengees resigned last week to serve the UN as a senior field security officer based in Juba, South Sudan.
- Assembly Clerk Patrick Leshore has declared the position vacant in a Gazette notice to pave the way for interested candidates to pick nomination papers.
Samburu County Assembly could next week have its first ever woman speaker through Dr Josephine Kulea, who is seeking to fill the vacant position left by Mr Fred Lengees.
Mr Lengees resigned to take up a top security job at the United Nations.
Dr Kulea is the executive director of Samburu Girls Foundation and a seasoned gender activist. Her bid is already a major milestone owing to the Samburu community's age-old patriarchal culture that undermines women's prospects in political and administrative leadership.
Last year, Dr Kulea vied for the woman representative seat and came third. She has now positioned herself as one of the two front-runners for the speaker seat. Local female leaders have praised her for the decision to battle it out with men.
"I am in the race to be the first woman speaker in the County Assembly of Samburu. As a woman leader, I have what it takes to lead the Assembly," Dr Kulea said.
If Dr Kulea is elected, the historic first would not only put the community on the gender parity map but also inspire other women to go for political and executive posts.
Her background as an astute gender activist and anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner is key to her bid. Her Samburu Girls Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing Samburu girls from child marriage, beading and FGM.
Over the years, she worked relentlessly to save girls from this web of abuse, and has rescued almost 2000 young Samburu girls and over 463 have been sponsored to go to school.
In Samburu, no woman was elected to the county assembly across all 15 wards, even though three of them were on the ballot. However, a total of nine were nominated to the house to achieve a fair gender representation.
Samburu is still stagnant in female representation in politics, and Dr Kulea is seeking to break the barrier. "I know my community has been so patriarchal, but I am here for a purpose: to break the ceiling. I can do this," she says.
Since Independence, few Samburu women have dared to participate in politics. Also, barriers such as exploitation of girls and FGM have slowed their participation in labour, governance and education.
Only a few women have been going for the woman representative post and other positions, despite deliberate efforts by the government, civil society, political parties and development partners geared towards achieving an egalitarian society.
Mr Lengees resigned last week to serve the UN as a senior field security officer based in Juba, South Sudan. He said it was not an easy decision to resign from his position just eight months after he was elected.
Assembly Clerk Patrick Leshore has already declared the speaker position vacant in a Gazette notice to pave the way for interested candidates to pick nomination papers.
"It is notified for the information of the general public that pursuant to Section 21 (1) of the Elections Act 2011, and Standing Order 4 of the County Assembly of Samburu, the office of the Speaker of County Assembly of Samburu is vacant following the resignation of the Speaker on May 16, 2023 pursuant to provisions of Section 11 (1)d of the county governments Act 2012," reads the notice.