How women issues catapulted Elachi to top county seat

Tuesday November 14 2017

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi gestures during an interview on November 7, 2017 in her office. She plunged into politics in 2002 by getting involved in activities that targeted women. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A young girl from western Kenya came to Nairobi completely unaware that she would one day be a household name and land a plum job in the city county assembly as its Speaker.

Ms Beatrice Elachi had just completed her Form Four examination at Moi Girls High School, Vokoli, before she came to Nairobi in search of the “big dream”.

The former Senate majority chief whip does not shy away from media and is a strong defender of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

When she arrived in Nairobi, she settled in Kangemi where she served as a youth leader at St Joseph parish.

She later joined Africa Nazarene University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree in Peace and Security Studies.

Speaking to Nation, she said the Speaker’s job was a surprise.

“Never in my wildest dream did I imagine I would become the Speaker especially in Nairobi,” she said.

She thanked her bosses who proposed her for the position and for getting the opportunity to serve residents.

Ms Elachi unsuccessfully contested the Dagoretti North parliamentary seat during the August 8 elections on a Jubilee ticket.

She plunged into politics in 2002 by getting involved in activities that targeted women and got her first job as a programmes officer at the National Council of Women of Kenya.

At the time, the country was gearing up for the 2005 referendum, which was organised in two camps: those who supported the Constitution and those who were against it.

She supported the government side, which was the “yes” camp.

This and her work with women resulted in her being sponsored by the former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to work with women through Ford foundation.

During the referendum, she started working with the former minister John Michuki, who mentored her in politics.

After the violence that broke out following the 2007 disputed election, she was recommended to be part of the ‘Kibaki Tena’ team and was requested to go to the various camps for internal displaced people, especially in Rift Valley.

“The experience made me look beyond the things we see, beyond how we play our politics, and how we ignore small things.

"This is why our fabric is so tattered and we should rethink what we want as Kenyans going forward,” Ms Elachi said.

In the Senate, she was very vocal and has moved a number of motions.

This includes a bill on July 2013 that successfully lobbied the government to reinvent the National Youth Service in order to encourage more youth to join it after high school.

The Speaker said she will push for nominated members to have an office and aid where they can serve residents.

Ms Elachi will also make committees hold sittings in the wards in a bid to engage residents in their work.

“I hope things at the assembly will be done differently by taking committees to the ground and picking the issues that they will bring to the assembly for generation of reports and implementation,” she said.