Young, ambitious women causing ripples in Bomet politics

From left: Linet Chepkorir, Joan Cherotich, Irene Terer and Saida Stacey Chepkemoi.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • For them, the perception that young people are the leaders of tomorrow is misleading.
  • They are not taking chances in their quest to have the youth recognised as key players in legislative and policy matters.

Young female aspirants have taken Bomet County’s political landscape by storm as the August 9 general election nears.

For them, the perception that young people are the leaders of tomorrow is misleading. They are not taking chances in their quest to have the youth recognised as key players in legislative and policy matters.

They believe, and rightly so, that the youth have to take charge of their destiny by occupying political seats that would enable them to influence national and grassroots development agenda and place their issues at the centre of the county’s socio-economic needs, among them gender equality.

Saida Stacey Chepkemoi

Ms Chepkemoi, 28, made history of sorts in April 2017 as the youngest East African Legislative Assembly nominee by Jubilee Party, even though she was later dropped from the reconstituted list after the 11th Parliament failed to vote on the nominees, with the matter subsequently spilling over to the 12th Parliament.

Ms Chepkemoi would burst into elective politics the same year, being the first female youth aspirant for the Bomet senatorial position. She came third in the Jubilee Party nomination with 29,450 votes.

Ms Saida Stacey Chepkemoi on March 17, 2022. She is vying for Bomet woman representative position under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

A holder of a Bachelor of International Relations from Maseno University and a Master’s in Diplomacy from Daystar University, she has shifted gears in her political ambition and is now seeking to fly United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket in the Bomet woman representative race.

At Maseno University, she was a student representative for four years, and always trained her eyes on elective politics. She was appointed the Bomet county representative to the Young Diplomats Forum, and elected youth president in the county in 2015, feats that prepared her for future battles.

“I decided to shift from senatorial to woman representative position after realising that the Bills that directly affect the well-being of the people are debated and passed [or rejected] in the National Assembly,” said Ms Chepkemoi in an interview.

She feels that in the last 10 years, the office of Bomet woman representative has been downgraded and not felt on the ground compared to other counties.

“If elected, I will decentralise resources and ensure the Sh35 million National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) is evenly distributed to the five sub-counties – Sotik, Chepalungu, Bomet East, Bomet Central and Konoin” said Ms Chepkemoi.

She says she will prioritise the youth, women, people living with disabilities and the elderly for empowerment programmes.

“We need to demystify the woman representative position as one that deals with both gender as it has unfortunately been made a women’s affair, yet men should also be taken on board,” she said.

“The Constitution, while creating the position, did not envisage a situation where empowerment programmes are targeted only at women. In any event, men and women voters elect a woman representative. Gender discrimination should be done away with.”

Ms Chepkemoi would also prioritised provision of water tanks to markets to enable small-scale traders to access the commodity, improve sanitation and curb outbreak of waterborne diseases.

She is also keen on rolling out a campaign to ensure boda boda operators have access to medical cover through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

Irene Terer

Ms Terer, one of the youthful aspirants for the Bomet woman representative position, stands out as the only youthful aspirant in the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM). She will face off with nominated Senator Alice Milgo in the party’s primaries.

“I am convinced that the time for youthful professionals to take over leadership and steer the development agenda of the country is now, and that should start right from the grassroots and up-scaled to the national arena,” said Ms Terer.

Ms Irene Terer, 33, on February 10, 2022. She is vying for Bomet woman representative position on the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party ticket.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

The 33-year-old holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master's in Strategic Management, both from the University of Nairobi.

“Empowerment of women in Bomet has not been felt on the ground in the last 10 years. It is time to impress upon the voters to elect youthful leaders. It should be a change for the better,” said Ms Terer.

She has promised to prioritise empowerment through table banking for women and the youth, and support people living with physical challenges and the elderly.

“Funding for groups should not be done haphazardly, like we have witnessed in the past, but be well structured with training in business and financial management of the benefitting groups. The funds should add value to new and existing enterprises,” Ms Terer said.

Lack of proper areas for women to carry out their businesses, especially vegetable and fruit traders, and second-hand clothes dealers is an issue she plans to address jointly with the county and national governments if she clinches the CCM party ticket and eventually wins on August 9.

“Provision of clean drinking water to homes is a major issue that I will seek to address with all stakeholders, including donors and the government. There is a need for the people to access water for domestic and commercial use to improve livelihoods and health,” said Ms Terer.

Joan Cherotich

Ms Cherotich, a 26-year-old lawyer, is the youngest candidate in the race to succeed Bomet East Member of Parliament (MP) Beatrice Kones, who is bowing out of elective politics after the end of her term.

Ms Joan Cherotich, a 26 year old lawyer, on February 2, 2022. She is seeking the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket for the Bomet East parliamentary seat ahead of the August General Election.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

Ms Cherotich, a University of Nairobi and Kenya School of Law graduate, has prioritised upgrade and equipping of education facilities on her development agenda.

“It is unfortunate that we still have mud floors and timber-walled classrooms and offices in primary schools spread across Bomet East constituency. It is an eyesore that needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency,” said Ms Cherotich in an interview.

“Upgrade of all education facilities in the county is an issue that should not be negotiable if we have a focused and committed leader as a member of Parliament. It is an area I will seek to immediately fix if I’m elected as MP.”

She is advocating prudent management of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) anchored on public participation to curb implementation of wrong development projects.

“Both at the constituency and national government level, I will endeavour to initiate development projects to intentionally benefit young people to create employment opportunities, fix rural urban migration and improve the local economy,” said Ms Cherotich.

She said it was time the youth took over leadership and fixed the issues affecting society to benefit current and future generations.

“Development has lagged behind in many regions as mainstreaming of youth in leadership has not been done over the years. It is our (youth’s) turn to lead and we are asking the elderly for support for a change of guard,” said Ms Cherotich.

Save for a few past leaders, representation of residents in the National Assembly has been wanting, with serious concerns raised by stakeholders, she said.

“Empowerment of the people, driving the legislative agenda, bringing on board research organisations to dig into the cause of cancer, which is prevalent in this region, are some of the areas I will address if elected as the next Bomet East MP,” said Ms Cherotich.

Her focus in the interim is to win the UDA ticket and prepare to face off against other candidates at the August election.

Linet Chepkorir

Ms Linet Chepkorir, popularly known as Toto, is the youngest in a crowded field to succeed Bomet Woman Representative Joyce Korir, who has shifted base to Bomet Central constituency in the August 9 polls.

Ms Chepkorir, a 24-year-old Bachelor of Business Administration graduate from Chuka University, is considered as embodying the ideals of the youth, daring to dream in a field dominated by elderly politicians and professionals.

Ms Linet Chepkorir on February 3, 2022. The 24 year-old is seeking to upstage the old guard in race for Bomet woman representative position.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

While most of her competitors are using top-of-the-range cars on the campaign trail, she uses boda boda and occasionally gets a lift to functions as she covers the expansive county, which has five constituencies – Bomet East, Bomet Central, Konoin, Sotik and Chepalungu.

“I conducted a fundraising to raise the Sh125,000 for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) registration fees set for aspirants and the response was quite encouraging. I do not have the financial might my competitors are deploying, but I am depending on the goodwill of the voters in this race,” said Ms Chepkorir.

Ms Chepkorir says, if elected, she would ensure beneficiaries of empowerment programmes are trained before they receive funding, to curb wastage and losses and boost the success rate of projects.

“For a long time, women and youths have been condemned when seeking elective positions across the country. It is a narrative we are seeking to turn around and enable all of us – the rich and poor – to compete on an even playground based on ideas and manifestos,” said Ms Chepkorir.

Her candidature has caused a lot of political heat in the region where youths have in the past been seen to take a back seat in elective positions.