Mama Phoebe Asiyo is one of the most respected and influential women leaders in Kenya. She is a former Member of Parliament for Karachuonyo Constituency, first African chairperson of Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (the largest grassroots women organization in Kenya) and Ambassador to UNIFEM.
Mama Asiyo began her career as a teacher having successfully trained at Embu Teachers Training College. Although brief, her stint in school classrooms was a stepping stone to the future. She later joined the Prisons Service, which was male-dominated, but she rose through the ranks to become the first female Superintendent of the Kenya Prisons Service. It is during her time at the Prison Service that women prisons were established across the country.
In 1979, she ventured into politics, contesting for and winning the Karachuonyo Constituency parliamentary seat, which she held for two consecutive five-year terms, making her the first woman in Kenya to serve that long in the history of National Assembly. Mama Asiyo lost her seat during the infamous Mlolongo elections of 1988 only to bounce back to Parliament in the 1992 multi-party elections.
After retirement from politics in 1997, she was appointed to the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) as a commissioner. She has since devoted her time and energies in community work and philanthropy.
She works closely with the State Department for Gender Affairs to mentor upcoming female leaders and in the promotion of women agenda. Mama Asiyo has just authored her memoir, whose launch will be supported by the Ministry of the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs as a way of honouring and recognizing her as a trailblazer.
She was awarded the Order of the Burning Spear, 1st Class, Chief of the Burning Spear (CBS)