Women in Politics
The much-anticipated 2022 elections are around the corner, and more women are positioning themselves to vie for elective posts with Gender Advocates hoping that the elections will not only give us more female governors but Kenya’s first female vice president as well.
The 2017 elections saw an increase in the number of women who were elected in office including the historic election of three female governors, which was quite historic considering that in the 2013 general elections no single woman had been elected Governor in all 47 counties.
Despite the gains made in empowering women, the gender parity in the political space in the country still remains large and we hope that the 2022 elections will help shrink it.
23 women have already expressed their interests in vying for Governors; these include; Pamela Odhiambo (Migori Woman Rep), Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman Rep), Margaret Wanjiru (former Starehe MP), Anne Kananu (acting Nairobi governor), Agnes Kagure (political operative and businesswomen), Florence Mwangangi (Machakos assembly Speaker), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Woman Rep), Faith Gitau ( Nyandarua Woman rep), Kabiaga University lecturer Dr Loice Kipkorir (Elgeyo Marakwet) and communications specialist Patience Nyange (Taita Taveta)
Others are Susan Kihika (Nakuru senator), Fatuma Achani (Kwale deputy governor), Soipan Tuya (Narok woman rep), Florence Mutua (Busia woman rep), Cecily Mbarire (Nominated MP), Wavinya Ndeti (former Kathiani MP), Ruth Odinga (former Kisumu Deputy Governor), Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi woman pep), Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga woman rep) and Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East MP).
Charity Ngilu (Kitui County), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga County),who were the only three women to be elected governors in the last elections, alongside the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet County), are also planning to defend their seats.
Anne Waiguru, Charity Ngilu and Martha Karua have also been fronted as potential running mates for 2022 presidential aspirants.
While speaking during the International Women’s Day event in 2018, Ann Waiguru mentioned that female leaders were targeting to have 13 more women elected Governors in the 2022 elections.
“We are deliberate about getting 13 female governors in 2022 and we are already putting up practical strategies at the senate, at the county assemblies and in every other forum,” said Waiguru, who is also the deputy chairperson Council of Governors (COG).
Challenges Facing Women in Politics
In a country that is still largely patriarchal, Women who step out to vie for elective politics face many barriers including discrimination, gender-based violence, financial constraints among others.
Various NGOs and Lobby groups have already launched programs to support female political aspirants in the 2022 elections through financial support and capacity building.
Such organizations include the Federation of Women Lawyers(FIDA) and the Women Empowerment Link (WEL).
The Two-Thirds Gender Rule
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 recognizes women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities as special groups deserving of constitutional protection with Article 81 (b) stating that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender”. Article 27 goes further to obligate the government to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programs and policies to address the past discrimination that women have faced.
Despite this provision and landmark court rulings obligating parliament and the Attorney General to enact the two-thirds Gender rule, the legislation is yet to be enforced and maybe it’s about time female voters just stepped out to help achieve this through the ballot.