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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Kenyan Women Leaders Advance County Development Agenda

Group from IGRTC strategic planning

Juliana Yegon is a passionate supporter of women's rights who has on numerous instances intervened to protect young women and girls from sexual abuse, child labor and restrictive cultural practices such as early marriage.

"I cannot count the times I had to step in - sometimes using legal means - to help my girls, some of them as young as 15, who had been sexually assaulted by close relative or given to early marriages in exchange for dowry as a way to take care of their families," laments Juliana, a former educator and the current County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of education in Bomet County.

When women leaders from Bomet County decided to form an association that champions the rights of women and children in the county, Juliana was among the first to join. The Bomet County Women Association (BOCWA) is an alliance of women members of the County Assembly and County Executive who share the vision of promoting the social, economic and political agendas of women in the County. Bomet County is one of only three counties in the country that elected a female governor in the 2017 General Election, so BOCWA members feel that they are uniquely positioned to advance this initiative.

"As women, we realized that the socio-economic and political challenges that we face in the county are the same despite political affiliations. Now that we have a female governor, we feel that we stand a better chance for pushing the female agenda," explains Cecilia Mutai, the BOCWA chairperson and a nominated member of the county assembly representing gender.

With buy-in from the county leadership, SUNY/CID’s USAID-funded Agile and Harmonized Assistance to Devolved Institutions (AHADI) project supported BOCWA’s registration as a [nonprofit] society in February 2018. AHADI also provided the association with an expert strategist who helped the association to develop and launch a five-year strategic plan through a participatory approach with key stakeholders. The strategic plan will help the association's members focus their efforts on seven key results areas and measure successes as they go along.

Geraldine Munyua catches up on county news.

Juliana Yegon speaks during the strategic planning workshop held in Nairobi in March.

BOWCA has a membership of 29 women drawn from both the county assembly and the county executive. The collaboration between members of the two arms of the county government is a first in a country that has experienced hostilities between the assembly and the executive in most counties. BOCWA has the potential to serve as an example to women leaders in other counties to rally behind a common cause. Bomet County hopes to realize equitable development by ensuring that women have opportunities, access and resources to participate effectively in public discourse.

"The end game for us is economically empowered, confident women in Bomet County who have a seat at the table" -- Gloria Kenyatta, Deputy Clerk, Bomet County Assembly and BOCWA Assistant Secretary

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted November 5, 2018