For Joyce Wanjalah Lay, her modest childhood and abundance of family love shaped her,
into the self-respecting, confident and go-getter woman she is today.
Born in Mariwenyi village in Mwatate in Taita Taveta, Joyce has kept her childhood zeal
not only to succeed in life but to also spread her wings and improve the lives of those in her
“I am from a humble background. Life was hard but we never gave up,” says Joyce who is
the sixth born in a family of nine. “One thing mum taught us was that it does not matter what
you go through today, there is always a better tomorrow.”
Not wearing shoes while going to school did not deter Joyce’s ambition to get an education.
She went to a local Primary and Secondary School in Taita Taveta. She later moved to
Munda High School but just before she completed her education, her father who was the solo
breadwinner passed on and was hence forced to drop out of school.
“But undeterred, I healed and decided to focus on the brighter side of life,” says Joyce.
Her go-getter attitude pushed her to do several menial jobs including working as a house-
help to make money to register for her final KCSE exams of which she did sit for as a private
“After some years, I landed a job as a secretary but shortly after, I decided to venture into
business while advancing school and moved to Nairobi,” she says. Thanks to her ‘free spirit’
and humble attitude that opened opportunities for her, she got a job with a promotions and
events company, which was her turning point in life. After years of hard work, she quit and
ventured into self-employment running businesses in Nairobi and Voi.
Joyce is currently pursuing a BA degree in Political Science and Sociology at the University,
of Nairobi. As a woman, Joyce says, “I enjoy my work, school and taking care of my family”
and adds that she has learnt to appreciate the far that God has brought her.
Joyce has her eyes firmly fixed on the Taita Taveta county women representative seat of
which she acknowledges that like in her county, women’s issues – reproductive health,
domestic violence, marginalisation, unemployment; inheritance – list is endless, resonate
around the world.
Joyce’s vision is “to see women change the world. We need someone to bring them out of
the marginalization cocoon. Many women do not believe in themselves because of the social
stereotypes coined out to pin them down.” She agrees that the new constitution has taken
note of women’s issues and aims to address the education-needs, health needs, leadership
and governance issues that face women daily. “If I get elected, I will ensure the constitution
is fully implemented. My calling is to represent, legislate and oversee equal distribution of
resources as well as empower women,” she says.
Joyce has worked with women in most parts of the country. She was involved in the building
of a cooling plant for dairy farmers at the Coastal region through the Maziwa Taita Trust.
“At the moment, Brookside pays dairy farmers Sh3 million every month for their milk
collections,” Joyce says, adding that her vision is to liaise with investors to uplift the lives
of the locals. “I want to be the link between leadership and the electorate,” she says. For
the people of Taita Taveta, Joyce believes that they should be the main beneficiaries of the
numerous resources in the area.
Like any female political aspirant, her ambition does not however come without its fair share
of challenges, of which she responds, “People should know that leadership is not about age or
money. What matters is the vision you have to represent and offer leadership to the people.”