Joyce Laboso, a woman of many firsts


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Dr Joyce Cherono Laboso was not an ordinary leader despite her humility.

Before she became the first woman governor of Bomet County in 2017, she had already scored a number of firsts along the way.

In 2008, she was forced to step in the big shoes of her younger and more vibrant sister, Lorna Laboso, who died in a plane crash on June 10 in Narok while heading to Kericho for a function.

She died alongside then Bomet MP Kipkalya Kones who was also the Roads Minister in the Grand Coalition government.

The two were then the most popular politicians in Bomet and their demise was a big loss to the region.

After being elected to replace her sister in the ensuing by-election, Dr Laboso was not only thrust to fill her sister’s big shoes in Parliament but also to take her shining mantle in the Kipsigis political arena. Lorna was the first woman ever to be elected MP in the whole of Bomet in 2007.

Picking the cue from her, Joyce went on to score her own firsts becoming the first woman to be picked as the Deputy National Assembly Speaker in 2013.

She deputised current Speaker Justin Muturi until she quit parliamentary contests to go for the big seat in Bomet in 2017.

Upon her re-election in 2013, she became the first woman from Bomet to serve for two terms in Parliament.

In achieving that feat, she also became the only MP from Bomet to successfully defend her seat.

Only Kipkalya Kones (Bomet constituency in 1997), Nathaniel Chebelion (Konoin in 1992) and Anthony Kimetto (Sotik in 2002) managed similar feats in the past. Kimetto was the last among them to successfully defend the seat in 2002.

When she threw herself into the gubernatorial ring in 2017, she won the seat in a landslide victory on a Jubilee Party ticket and became one of the first three elected women governors in the country.

Others are Anne Waiguru (Kirinyanga) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui). She defeated the incumbent Mr Isaac Ruto who was defending the seat on the Chama Cha Mashinani party.

Before she was thrown into the murky world of politics, she was a lecturer at Egerton University. She had been recruited by the institution upon her graduation from the University of Hull in the UK in 2006 where she obtained a PhD in Gender and Language Education.

She joined a small group of pioneer Kipsigis women to attain a PhD from a foreign university.

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