COVID-19 has slowed down political activities in Kenya and such a situation is unpalatable for politicians. Luckily for them, they can meet online as more Kenyans embrace technology and the cost of internet is not as forbidding as in the past.
Thus, this year’s Africa Day, which is marked on May 25, saw Kenyan women political leaders coming together to take stock of their progress towards attaining political power under the Rethinking Democracy zoom webinar series run by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
At the meeting, the panellists and participants discussed the issues that have made it such a big struggle for Kenyan women to get into the political system and sought ways to overcome these hurdles in order to achieve different results in the 2022 election.
Moderated by writer Kingwa Kamencu, the panel featured some of the recognisable heavyweights of the women’s movement such as Daisy Amdany, the executive director Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust; Executive Director Centre for Rights Education and Awareness Leah Wangechi; Anna Mutavati, UN Women Country Director; National Gender Equality Commission’s Priscilla Nyokabi; and Gladys Wanga, Homabay County MP.
- Why women are left behind
Chauvinistic African society does not recognise women as leaders
Women who show political interest are shunned, vilified, and seen as renegades
Men (and women) are uncomfortable with educated women
In Kenya, the two-thirds gender provision in the Constitution has not been implemented, 10 years later
Daisy Amdany highlighted the impunity on the side of the government on implementation of court orders in regard to the two-thirds gender rule. There is a clear supremacy battle between the executive and the judiciary, and unfortunately women are the perpetual victims.
Stella Agara, a participant, said it was not fair for women to compete when the playing field is not level.
“The political, social and economic environment is skewed against women but they are told that they should learn to fight for their positions as their male counterparts do. This is tough,” says Agara.
Political parties shun and demoralise women during the nomination process, the meeting heard. The party nomination process is hardly free, fair or transparent.
The panellists highlighted the need to shame political parties that do not give women an opportunity. Political parties must also be encouraged to bring in more women to vie for posts.
To overcome these hurdles, the moderator, Kamencu, said that women should set up a political party of their own. “The deck is stacked against women politicians. From this lack of women-friendly political parties to disrespect of women and lack of political will to enact key sections of the Constitution.”
To make a difference in 2022, women must build their leadership and financial capacities as well as become bold enough to declare their interest in different electoral posts with confidence. The more women we have running for elective posts, the more are likely to be elected.
In 2017, nine women ran for the gubernatorial seat and three won. If we have 47 contesting in 2022, the probability of more women winning is high.
Once elected or nominated, women must perform well to inspire their people to reelect them and give other women a chance.
Gladys Wanga gave the example of how her good performance as MP and that of her counterpart Millie Odhiambo had inspired Homabay County to elect two additional female MPs – Dr Eve Obara and Dr Lillian Gogo.