Gladys Nyasuna Wanga grew up in a political family where her father the late John Nyasuna was a councilor and the chairperson of Kisumu County Council for several years. Emulating her father, she developed an early interest in politics and it was only natural to take up different leadership roles. Her leadership inspiration includes her father from whom she links her leadership traits, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is serving her third term and whom Hon. Wanga admires for her strength and humility in leadership and credits Hon. Charity Ngilu locally, whom she says is an admirable leader and trailblazer. Hon. Wanga schooled at Kisumu Girls High School where she was the head girl, and proceeded to join Kenyatta University. She holds a Master of Science in Health Management degree. Her vision is to see Homa Bay county develop beyond its current state to a level it can competitively compete with other counties on a national scale which can be achieved through economic development, infrastructure development and social structures.
Hon. Wanga has held various leadership positions. She was a head girl in high school and proceeded with leadership when she joined University. While at Kenyatta University, Hon. Wanga contested for the highly competitive secretary general position and became the first female to be elected in that position. Her role was to represent students at the university senate and council, which she successfully did and this resulted in the review of the Constitution for the Kenyatta University Students’ Association to allow for its’ independence in running affairs. She also mobilized resources to run the union. She was later to campaign for and win the Secretary General of the National Students Union of Public Universities.
She has worked in various positions and organizations, including serving as the Program Manager at LVCT Health, a Kenyan non-governmentl organization focused on HIV/AIDS programs. Prior to running for the elective County Member of National Assembly, Hon. Wanga engaged actively in politics, campaigning for ODM and its candidates both in 2007 and 2013 elections. She is an active member of ODM party’s Parliamentary Group. Hon. Wanga who is a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission and the chairperson of the sub- committee on Information and Public Communication was named the most performing woman MP in the 11th parliament two years into her first term. Under the Information and Public Communication committee, Hon. Wanga and her team have worked to specifically demystify the August House in the eyes of the ordinary Kenyans by having an Open Day once a year and making it more accessible to the public by promoting its activities during the annual Agriculture of Kenya shows held across the counties.
Hon. Wanga is one of eight women who sit in the 29-member House Business Committee (HBC) which decides on the calendar of the National Assembly and which private member’s motions and/or Bills will be debated on, in what sequence and for how long. She is also a member of the Labour Relations Committee under which the team was able to successfully lobby the Budget committee members to allocate more funds to support the women and youth empowerment funds. Hon. Wanga has partnered with several private sector and civil society groups in Homa Bay to mobilize women to register for national identification cards, National Hospital Insurance Fund, National Social Security Fund and birth and death certificates which are not easily accessible to many people in rural areas. She has also been active in encouraging women to deliver in hospitals. Hon. Wanga has also promoted table banking in a bid to empower women economically, where together with her team, have the Homa Bay County Women’s Savings and Cooperative Society (SACCO) which had more than 3,000 members from the county and has issued loans of more than6millionto its members to date. Hon. Wanga also launched the girl child mentorship program known as ‘Mama County Says’, through which annual meetings are held in different schools and different topics are discussed, ranging from health to careers, discipline among others.
Hon. Wanga credits KEWOPA and the State University of New York through its Legislative Strengthening Programme implemented in the Kenyan National Assembly for giving her valuable insights to understand parliamentary procedures and the various legislator roles. She has made several statements in parliament and has moved several motions and amendments. One of them was a motion on road safety which Hon. Wanga moved together with her colleague Hon. Pricilla Nyokabi that sought to give the National Transport Safety Council and the Ministry of Transport and of Roads more stringent powers to deal with the causes of road accidents. She has also moved a motion on subsidizing training costs for oncologists studying Masters’ Degree in order to address the serious shortage of these experts and to deal with rising cancer cases. Hon. Wanga has also submitted an amendment to the Cancer Prevention Control and Management Act seeking to ensure that all Level 5 Hospitals in all the 47 counties are provided with diagnostic equipment for cancer detection, management and treatment. She is the ODM chairperson for Homa Bay county, where she is one of the two women ODM chairpersons countrywide
Women, girls and youth empowerment
Homa Bay county has high levels of poverty with women and girls most affected. Upon her reelection, Hon,. Wanga intends to continue with her role in empowering women and girls through mentorship, access to improved education, access to economic empowerment programs including credit for small and medium enterprises as well as access to improved health services. She intends to build on the strengths and lessons from the existing Homa Bay Women’s SACCO while ensuring other groups such as the youth are able to replicate the same. Hon. Wanga intends to further ensure continuity of Mama County Says initiative through which more girls will be mentored to make positive decisions as well as also focus on ensuring more girls access and complete their education in order to positively impact the community. She will continue lobbying and ensuring bills are tabled in parliament that promotes the development for her county.