What you need to know:
- Susan Atieno Odongo's support base is largely drawn from the youth who she says make up more than 50 per cent of the voters.
- If elected, the she promises to ensure issues that touch on marginalized groups receive due consideration.
- For women, she plans to strengthen the table banking concept in the constituency.
At the age of 26, Susan Atieno Odongo is a woman on mission to prove that women too, can lead in Nairobi’s very competitive politics.
She is vying as Member of Parliament for Lang’ata Constituency, hoping to become the first woman to hold the seat.
Ms Odongo, who is competing as an independent candidate, is banking on the support of young people, who she has worked with closely, to win.
Indeed, her support base is largely drawn from the youth who she says make up more than 50 per cent of the voters.
An accountant by profession, Ms Odongo has been using her knowledge and expertise to train the youth on basic principles of growing wealth in a bid to help turn them away from crime, curb drug abuse, and boost their entrepreneurial skills and employment opportunities.
At the moment, she supports youth empowerment programs in the constituency, which bring on board all youth leaders.
If elected, the she promises to ensure issues that touch on marginalized groups receive due consideration. For women, she plans to strengthen the table banking concept in the constituency.
“I have been working with a group of women traders and I am trying to see how best we can empower them so that they can raise the amount they contribute every week. This will help them establish a Sacco that will offer the opportunity for them to borrow and grow their businesses.”
In addition, she plans to create and equip the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) centres in every ward to serve public schools. This will ensure parents are not overburdened by the cost of implementation of the new system.
To go hand in hand with this will be the construction of additional classrooms in existing public schools to accommodate children living with disability.
The other areas she is focusing on include establishment of rehabilitation centres to help youth who abuse drugs to regain their dignity; create water points, and roll out free NHIF for the elderly and people living with disabilities.
“I believe I am a better candidate than my competitors because I am young, I understand the problems of my constituents, and I am better placed to address the challenges they face.”
Like other women candidates, she says her political journey has not been without challenges.
Ms Odongo cites culture, which remains a major impediment to women in leadership.
Sell my agenda
“Culture still undermines women in leadership because men still feel that they are better placed to articulate public issues than women.”
Her competitors and their supporters, on the other hand, are telling people that she is too young to contest for a parliamentary seat. “Some people also want me to declare my marital status in political rallies before they can allow me to sell my agenda.”
She is not threatened by such posturing. Instead Ms Odongo believes women should remain undeterred, come out boldly, and seek elective seats.
“Women must be bold enough to compete for elective posts, ignore stereotypes, and pick out the lessons learnt in every step of the way. They should always remember they are leaders regardless of age and stature. Let us always be inspired by our vision and let what we stand for justify the rest.”