Women in their 20s secure elective posts in Nandi County Assemblies  

Cynthia Jepkosgey Muge, 24, won the Kilibwoni Ward on an independent ticket  photo- courtesy - Nation Media group
Cynthia Jepkosgey Muge, 24, won the Kilibwoni Ward on an independent ticket photo- courtesy - Nation Media group

The old adage that youth are the leaders of tomorrow is no longer viable as young men and women prove that their time for leadership is now.

In many counties a few young men and women were able to make it into elective politics showing that the youth are now ready to take up elective leadership positions.

In no other county was this more visible than in Nandi County where the nominations stage was the first indication that things were about to change. The first sign that a revolution was taking place in Nandi is when all the members of the county assembly as well as the governor were sent home at the party primaries level.

When the General Election was held on August 8, the results came as a shock to many including the incumbents who had gone as independent candidates. To make matters even better the number of women who were elected went a notch higher. While many counties did not have a single woman elected, Nandi County set the record by electing six women to the county assembly. Among these six were women who won without being in a political party.

Cynthia Jepkosgey Muge, 24, won the Kilibwoni Ward on an independent ticket.

Nandi residents ignored rigid traditions that bar women from taking up political leadership positions. The six women elected to the Nandi County assembly include Nancy Chemutai (Kobujoi), Jostine Chepnyango (Songhor/Soba), Rael Rotich (Kapsimotwo) and Milka Chumba (Kipkaren) who were elected on Jubilee Party tickets while Magdaline Rono (Koyo/Ndurio) and Cynthia Jepkosgei (Kilibwoni) ran as independent candidates.

The election of the six women is a contrast to the 2013 General Election when only men were elected in all the 30 wards. Sally Kosgey, the former Aldai legislator and Chelagat Mutai, the former Eldoret North MP are among the few women from Nandi to have served in elective political positions.

Jostine Chepnyango photo: courtesy - Nation media group

Jostine Chepnyango photo: courtesy – Nation media group

Nandi Council of Elders chairperson Benjamin Kitur noted that the community has matured in terms of leadership reiterating that gender stereotypes were increasingly being ignored and people were being elected based on their ability to deliver as leaders. “We have come of age in terms of leadership selection as the Nandi people no longer adhere to archaic beliefs about women leaders,” said Kitur.

Nancy Chemutai, 26, beat County Assembly majority leader Julius Menjo in Kobujoi and three other male candidates. The journalist resigned from her job a year ago to pursue her political dream.

“I had heard enough complaints from the electorate. I decided to be part of the change by running for an elective office,” explains Chemutai.

Cynthia Jepkosgey, 24, has become an overnight celebrity after flooring Jubilee Party candidate Emmanuel Kipchumba. She was an independent candidate. The Physical Planning graduate will represent the Kilibwoni Ward in the county assembly. “I took a chance as an independent candidate and won after a difficult, penniless campaign,” says Jepkosgey.

Defy tradition

Rael Rotich beat a powerful Jubilee Party candidate popularly nicknamed ‘Kiptindinyo’ to bag the Kapsimotwo Ward seat while Jostine Chepnyango beat 18 candidates to win the Soba/Songhor seat. Magdalene Rono, also an independent candidate, floored a Jubilee Party candidate Wilson Ng’etich to win the Koyo/Ndurio Ward seat.

The six women cited similar challenges on the election trail, with Chemutai and Jepkosgey saying their competitors used their unmarried status to undermine them.

“Nandi traditions view young unmarried women as not worthy leadership roles and some voters used that against us,” the Kilibwoni MCA-elect said. “Our competitors told us off as being ‘too young to lead’ and actually advised us to find alternative employment ‘like other youth’,” recalls Chemutai.

  • Courtesy of The Standard Digital and additional information from AWC