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Beating The Odds

Retrogressive cultural practices and beliefs that confine women to the kitchen have hindered women’s quest to participate in political leadership. However Beatrice Otete has been able to succeed despite the overwhelming challenges she faces as a woman.


The 35 year old and a mother of four is now an assistant chief of Emakhatsa village in Khwisero Sub County .Before the appointment in January 2016, Beatrice was a community volunteer in various capacities that included: community health volunteer,  member of the Board of Management Emutatsa Primary School,  treasurer in the steering committee of Emutasta girls secondary, treasurer Emutatsa community based organization and member of the Kakamega Smallholder Women Farmers Network (KASFAN).

File 35510Beatrice, ready for duty.

Beatrice submitted her application with much optimism although there was overwhelming protests from men who insisted the position should be given to a man. However she was the best candidate and she was appointed as an assistant chief. 

‘‘The  skills I acquired through the capacity building trainings conducted by  ActionAid Kenya and other partners on  group formation, leadership,  resource mobilization, agri-business, proposal writing, community mobilization, public budget accountability and audit, women and children rights helped me during the interview. Balancing career and domestic work is really tricky since most  of the domestic chores and caring for the children the woman’s responsibility and when you leave all stops until you return,’’ says Ms. Beatrice. 

Her current duties involve providing weekly updates and reports on what is going on in the sub-locations, disseminating information, attending development meetings and dispute resolution. Beatrice is not only happy about her new position as the assistant chief but she sees it as an opportunity to make a change in her community and especially for women and girls.

 She says, ‘‘Women have been oppressed and discriminated for long. Culturally women’s movement out of the home was limited and they were not allowed to attend workshops or public awareness thus limiting their chances to participate in political leadership .”

It is because of the status and history of what women have gone through that Beatrice made commitments to strategically and effectively use the leadership opportunity to improve the lives of women, girls and the community in general. She promotes girl child education to reduce school drop outs in her area. She also fights against illicit brews, youth idleness  as well as mediates family breakdowns closely related to alcoholism. She works with other partners to promote food security, reduce incidents of theft linked to youth unemployment and promotes the accountable use of devolved funds in her area. According to Beatrice being a female leader in a society that promotes male dominance is not easy.

‘‘The elders sometimes still treat me as lesser and my directives are not taken seriously especially with the elderly males who still see me as the wife to their son.  The support from the chief and sub-county offices in emphasizing that I am the symbol of authority and awareness creation on the rights has helped this situation, ’’ says Beatrice.