- Ms. Mwebi is a renowned visionary leader, a seasoned woman entrepreneur, a community development enthusiast, a philanthropist, a resource mobilization expert.
- She was awarded with the National Heroine Award during Women Empowering Women Conference held in Nairobi recently.
- During the award presentation event, women in diverse professions congratulated her for being a light in the region and beyond.
In Kenya, women political leadership has continued to be bedeviled by different challenges, with the voices of many women who wish to rise up the political ladder being stifled and wished away.
Efforts to rewrite the narrative have, in some areas, borne fruits.
It’s a not-yet, however, for the Gusii region, which has remained without a single woman elected into the parliament or higher elective political seat since independence!
Beyond the woman representative, which is the fruit of affirmative action, all the other positions seem to have been reserved for men, yet there’s nothing to smile about it.
Resilient and courageous women, however, have tirelessly labored for the emancipation of the region from the shackles of political stigma against women chasing their political ambitions, and they’ve risen above the odds, despite the evident efforts to shut them out.
One such woman is Magdalene Mwebi, a woman of firsts who has relentlessly worked to defeat male chauvinism and patriarchal inclinations in the Gusii region’s political arena and beyond.
Ms. Mwebi is a renowned visionary leader, a seasoned woman entrepreneur, a community development enthusiast, a philanthropist, a resource mobilization expert, a gender and youth advocate, an anti-HIV/AIDs advocate, a professional counselor, a political strategist, and the immediate former advisor to the immediate former Kisii County Governor on matters Gender, Youth affairs, and HIV/AIDS.
During the Women Empowering Women conference held in Nairobi on July 17-18, 2023, powered by Imaginary Glass Ceiling LLC, courtesy of Jeannetta Collier, Ms. Mwebi was honored and awarded with National Heroine Award, lauding her efforts in navigating transformative spaces in the political, entrepreneurial and community service spaces.
Her political journey
While Ms. Mwebi’s entrepreneurial journey was sparked while still in primary school, her political passion took shape in the late 1990s, when patriarchy was at its deepest.
In 2007, she was the first woman in the Gusii region to toss herself into the fiercely competitive and male-driven political race in Kisii County, chasing the elective position of a Member of Parliament for Kitutu Chache Larger constituency, which currently comprises Kitutu Chache North and Kitutu Chache South constituencies.
Being the only woman, she competed against 22 men, of which she emerged in position 6.
“I had told myself, if I don’t join the race, no other woman will. No woman has gone to parliament through elective position in Gusii region since independence,” she said, after being presented with the award on July 30, 2023, in Kisii County.
The event was attended by women from different professions, most of whom have been looking up to her for lessons about life, politics and leadership, entrepreneurship and otherwise.
“For a long time, I’ve longed for people, especially ambitious ladies, to achieve what they need. I encourage you, try to rise up and get into battlefield of seeking political seats,” she said, challenging the women present to break the glass ceiling.
A challenging venture
Ms. Mwebi spoke of the leadership situation in Kenya, especially in the Gusii region, which comprises Nyamira and Kisii counties, where women rarely sit in their rightful places, adding that this is “because we have been discriminated against since when we were young.”
Describing the many stumbling blocks that threaten women mustering their energy to chase their political passion, she decried the many challenges women in the Gusii region face in the fight for leadership positions, ranging from discouragement to insecurity, fierce criticism to hatred.
“We must change the situation; we have been pulled backwards in most of the time and situations. It discourages how even one’s family rises against their women jostling through the masses to get into leadership seats,” she expressed her dissatisfaction.
“If you can’t look for votes and run for elective political seat, then support that lady who’s willing and courageous enough to rise to that position,” she urged fellow women.
The woman leader anticipates a time when women, especially from the Gusii region, will get into elective political leadership positions beyond nomination and woman representative, which are affirmative action.
Remember, she was the first woman from the county to be appointed as an advisor to the Governor.
Over the years, she has been received various awards to recognize her work and efforts in changing communities and championing inclusivity and equity, especially in the leadership and decision-making tables.
In September 2008, the Kenya Women Entrepreneurs Association awarded Ms. Mwebi the coveted Excellence in Entrepreneurship award.
Last year, she was bestowed as ICN Community Ambassador by iChange Nations, a civic organization recognizing and awarding changemakers across the globe.
Having started her career several decades ago as a Company Secretary at the Aga Khan Group in Mombasa, she later transitioned into the trade industry and founded St. Judes Holdings, which has, over time, become her signature brand name.
It majors in general supplies, retail and wholesaling, distributorship, and real estate businesses.
Her journey epitomizes unbeatable resilience, visionary mindset, courage, and hard work.
During the award presentation event, women in diverse professions congratulated her for being a light in the region, a transformational leader worthy of emulation, a mentor to many, and a living assurance that with determination, women can smash life’s barriers and attain the best versions.
Lauded for impact
Dr. Edna Orina, a Consultant Radiologist at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH), lauded her for her evident contribution in the leadership quarters, community service, and other areas of impact, which led her to be awarded and recognized as a change-maker.
“She’s a mother and a mentor and there’s a lot we can tap from her expertise in the diverse spaces she has served in,” she appreciated.
“We look up to you, and we get so encouraged to work harder whenever we see you receiving such awards,” added Carolyne Nyaseti, an entrepreneur and proprietor of Jasmine Suites.
She marveled at how Ms. Mwebi has stayed committed to whatever she does, noting that her community service has immensely impacted individuals and communities in and beyond the Gusii region.
Linet Moruri, the Vice Chairperson of Kisii Municipal Council, took pride in her for the award, appreciating the great work she’s been doing.
“We keep getting nuggets from you, and we remain encouraged by your commitment to work harder,” she exclaimed.
Ms. Mwebi is an experienced, visionary leader who has served in different positions fighting for timely and strategic roles in bridging gender parity gaps, advising and guiding families on HIV/AIDs, disability mainstreaming, community development matters, and bridging entrepreneurship gaps, especially for women, youth, and people living with disabilities.
She has also been supporting the elderly, street children, and needy children in schools, among other aspects of community and humanitarian service.
“I’ve seen the way you give back to society, and you’ve still remained active in community service,” said Rosemary Kangwana, an Entrepreneur and proprietor of Empire Beauty Hub.
Pauline Bendicto of Absa Bank also lauded the award-winning woman leader for driving impactful change and leading by example.
Damaris Kemunto, an Administrator by profession, congratulated and wished Ms. Mwebi well, expressing her desire to grow to become like her and impact communities as well.
Ms. Kemunto had earlier received, on behalf of Ms. Mwebi, the award from Jeannetta Collier, the planner and host of the Nairobi-held Women Empowering Women Conference, and the Founder and CEO, Jeannetta Collier Enterprises and Imaginary Glass Ceiling LLC.
“You deserve much more from our heart and we’re praying for your good health and continued service to humanity. You’re a treasure in the world, and an epitome of what a woman is able to do,” said Edinah Kangwana MBS, MHC., the WEW Conference’s Coordinator for Kenya.
She’s also a renowned transformational woman leader, policy expert and the Founder and CEO Arise Circle KE, a professional development-driven organization.
“The world has kept learning from you and we are always proud to see you winning, rising above the patriarchies and speaking the voice of reason into the leadership space,” she added.
In her service to take care and counsel HIV-infected couples in efforts to get HIV-negative children, she has, with her team and the help of about 20 health centers in Nyaribari Chache constituency, helped to help over 400 children be born with a negative HIV status and are now living healthy lives.
“This is a story that needs to be documented, because it carries all potential to touch and impact many lives now and in future,” commented Dr. Walter Okibo, a transformational leader, a former minister in Kisii County, a boy child advocate, and an entrepreneur.
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He had attended the event as part of the team presenting the award to Ms. Mwebi, and he congratulated her for her efforts, visionary mindset and unequaled impact in the Gusii region.
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