Going by the current political trend, the one-third gender rule is almost being attained in the current government as required by the Kenyan Constitution 2010. This is all credit to President William Ruto, who has kept his Women’s Charter deal an attainable promise.
Meet Dorcas Kibet, Eldama Ravine sub-county Administrator, the first woman to have the honor to serve in that position for the residents in Eldama ravine. She served in the same position before in Mogotio sub-county from 2015 to 2017, then served in Baringo Central for five years to 2022, then now Eldama Ravine sub-county.
Eldama Ravine has had more women ward administrators before, yet not in such a noticeable position. Women here are culturally left for few back positions and most of them with ambitions are left to fade away without notice, an unfortunate situation.
If only the public was privy to the number of women seeking public positions in the sub-county, if not Baringo County at large, you would be saddened at how dreams have been shuttered.
In the Kalenjin community, an educated woman is a pride to the family but a threat to the gender-sensitive society we are currently waking up to.
She is seen as a ticket to boasting to men who make major decisions in most boards and concern bodies that give them opportunities, thus the lesser chances of being given opportunities.
Currently, a degree is a requirement to hold any major public position in Kenya, but these Kalenjin women have even gone beyond to acquire Master’s Degrees, majority of them having them as academic records. Unfortunately, most of these brains are only used well in other counties.
Dorcas says her new position is not a comfort zone. With her schedule, she is generous enough to spare me some minutes in the midst of meetings and does it with grace and stature.
By the look of things, her hands are usually full for the day. She has a busy week ahead traversing the wards in a program called County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).
The program is meant to address emerging issues in the wards, the emerging need for projects, and also continuation and improvement of the projects carried forward by the other regime.
She speaks of addressing the potato farming in Mumberes ward, the pyrethrum, the expansion of projects, and the building of storage facilities in different wards.
While public participation is required throughout the program, she reports very low attendance in various wards, with Mumberes only attracting 142 participants; no gender balance either.
It worries her that even after announcing through the local radio and passing the information of their coming through chiefs, still, citizens do not turn up.
Her key focus is to have an all-round attendance where people living with disabilities, men and women and the youth participate.
She says such meetings have quality lessons, such as on forest conservation to combat climate change in support of the United Nations (UN) call.
“I was the brains behind the Chemususu Dam Marathon, since its inception before it was politically hijacked,” she says.
“The course was to ensure the support of conserving the environment that is ongoing under stakeholders such as CFAs,” she adds.
Her current ward rounds will see her visit Lembus Kwen ward, Esageri, Lembus Perkerra and back to Eldama Ravine County hall for public participation that will take place on November 3, 2022.
Who she is
The former Baringo High School teacher was fired up by her passion for serving the people and she resigned from the teaching job that she had served for more than a decade. Her political debut was in 2013, and a year full of hard-learned lessons and setbacks.
Having come from a humble background with parents who were strict teachers in Torongo Baringo County, the Kabarak High school alumnae started her Teaching career in 2001 under Board employment in Kapngetuny secondary school.
Later the Teachers Service Commission would employ her in Baringo High School. Her activeness in sports gave her the position of a games teacher. This position exposed her to different opportunities, thus her journey to join politics.
Her KANU debut for the Women’s Representative position in Baringo County hit the first hurdle when she ran out of her resources. The furthest she campaigned in the vast Baringo County is Tenges. She went back to the drawing board, and there, nominations set her aback. She did not make it.
She says there were a lot of political considerations, including regional balancing under the said party. She made new connections and dumped KANU for AGANO Party. She became the Deputy Governor to Aron Tuigong, who was aspiring to be Baringo’s Governor.
Her efforts made them come third in Baringo county general election in 2013. The efforts would clearly indicate what a fierce woman leader she would have been if only KANU had considered her then to continue with her Women Rep ambitions. To her, it’s a deferred dream.
Dorcas, who was born and raised in Baringo, is enjoying her early fourth-floor years and seems to have her life started. She says after the political downfall, her life hit rock bottom through 2014 as she was jobless, a norm she was not used to.
The campaigns had drained her.
She struggled to ensure she applied for every opportunity that she came across from the county. Her turnaround came when she met the first Governor of Baringo County, Benjamin Cheboi.
“I remember he told me to make sure I get shortlisted among the top three. ,” she recalls.
If only there were others
Dorcas wishes there were more women in such positions and spread across the sub-county.
“This would give me time to go beyond and monitor how the girl child is doing, supply sanitary towels to them, look into the early pregnancies and how far we are in combating the vice,” she says, concernedly.
She has been at the forefront of combating diverse issues affecting girls and women in the area.
“That’s why I am in a group called Daughters of Baringo, with an aim to empower women. Some are suggesting getting into Table Banking and others are focusing beyond that. We need that to help address and arrest the ills facing Baringo; we can only come together and be a force to reckon with,” she explains.
As far as women leadership is concerned under the Eldama Ravine sub-county, it might take long before they are locally recognized, elected or even noticed.
The political scene has seen local women like Francsisca Cherutich be nominated as a Member of the County Assembly in the last government.
The professional future is challenging to women in areas dominated by male chauvinism, cultural beliefs and women with no financial muscles in Eldama Ravine sub-county.
The major challenge facing women campaigning for such political positions dominated by men in the area is being abused because of their marital status and being told they are not women enough, as some voters still believe a woman should have been circumcised.
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Unfortunately, if a woman makes it through, in most cases, the public court would accuse her of paying for the position with her body.
Women in the region long for a time when a first lady will get elected into higher ranks of the county leadership. “Who will give women a break and a chance to change the political game in the sub-county,” they wonder.