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Special Post-Election Issue

Issue Number 36 • April 2013

Resources a major factor during campaigns

…By Kennedy Kibet

M

ost female candidates in North Rift suffered humiliating defeat during the elections with the majority of former MPs failing to capture their seats. The voters were purely driven by political euphoria and most candidates did not survive the wave in respective party strongholds. North Rift region is made up of six counties namely: Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Turkana. According to the records by the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC), the region has a total of 958,003 out of 1.9 million estimated voters.  Winnie Maru who was vying for

Turbo parliamentary seat lost during the nominations. She attributes the dismal performance by women to their inability to mobilise resources.

Resources

“Although stakes were very high and nothing was left to chance, most women aspirants were unable to mobilise sufficient resources to mount massive campaigns, which in some cases required giving freebies,” said Maru. Outgoing Higher Education Minister Professor Margaret Kamar who was vying for the Governorship in Uasin Gishu County on an ODM ticket was among those who lost in the elections. In Elgeyo Marakwet County, former Kenyan envoy to South Africa

Tabitha Seii who was vying for the senate seat lost to energetic law scholar Kipchumba Murkomen of United Republican party (URP). While the architect of 2010 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Bill  Linah Jebii Kilimo failed to secure the Marakwet East Constituency, a seat where she had served for the last two parliamentary terms.

Political wave

In Aldai Constituency of Nandi County, the outgoing Agriculture Minister Dr Sally Kosgey of ODM lost her parliamentary seat as the URP wave swept the region. New comers who attempted to make a debut in politics in the region also failed to win various positions. ODM’s Chepkok Moira who was

vying for the Women Representative position in Uasin Gishu County along with Caroline Cherono of UDF for the same position were also both unsuccessful. “It was a tight race but I thank all those who voted for me. In every contest there is always a winner and a loser,” said Cherono. However, a number of women clinched County Representative positions in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana counties.

Winners

The women who sailed through included Eusila Ngenyi of URP in Uasin Gishu and Dr Susan Chebet in Elgeyo Marakwet County. Chebet is a former senior administrator of Moi University and a crusader for the

rights of the girl-child. “We will use this position to articulate the issues touching on women,” noted Chebet. She said it was unfortunate that many women did not make it through the elective positions in all the counties. Many of the women aspirants, however, carried out extensive campaigns despite the financial challenges and other obstacles they faced. Most of the parties have also proposed to nominate many women in a bid to balance representation in the region. Both the winners and losers said they were happy that the IEBC had managed to organise credible, free and fair elections despite the challenges and delays in releasing the final results.

Hugo Chávez knew that his revolution depended on women

A

nd he was not the only one. Presidents of Tanzania and Haiti have both benefited from making women central to progress The funeral of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela took place on International Women’s Day — a fitting day of departure for “the president of the poor” who was loved by millions, especially by women, the poorest. When Chávez was elected in 1998, the grassroots movement took a leap in power and women in particular were empowered. Women were the first into the streets against the 2002 US-backed coup; their mobilisation saved the revolution. When asked why, woman after woman said: “Chávez is us, he is our son.” He was an extension of who they were as strugglers for survival.

Passion

Chávez soon learnt that the revolution he led depended on women, and said so: “Only women have the passion and the love to make the revolution.” He acknowledged that the “missions” — the new social services which were at the heart of his popularity and which the state funded but did not run — were mainly created and run by grassroots neighbourhood women. In 2006, when announcing the partial implementation of Article 88 of the new constitution recognising caring work as productive — a breakthrough worldwide — Chávez said: “Women work so hard raising their children, ironing, washing, preparing food … giving [their children] an orientation … This was never recognised as work yet it is such hard work! ... Now the revolution puts you first, you too are workers, you housewives, workers in the home.” Chávez was not the first movement leader who went on to head the government, to have understood women’s centrality to creating the new society they were striving to build. Half a century ago, Julius Nyerere, leader of Tanzania’s independence struggle and its first president, aimed his programme for development at the elimination of two ills: women’s inequality and poverty. He said: “Women who live in villages work harder than anyone in Tanzania, working in the fields and in the homes”. He added: “The truth is that in the villages the women work very hard. At times they work for 12 or 14 hours a day. They even work on Sundays and public holidays. Whereas the village men are on leave half their lives. Nyerere’s ujamaa or “African socialism” — self-reliance and co-opera-

The late Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez embraced by his supporters. He believed in women empowerment and they helped him to achieve most of his revolutions. Below: the late Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania worked hard towards elimination of women inequality and poverty. Pictures: Courtesy tion — was to keep Tanzania independent, by enabling it to refuse foreign loans. He insisted men must do their share. Equity was a question not only of justice but of economic necessity and political independence.

Equality

Encouraged by Nyerere, in one region, 17 ujamaa villages created a communal society based on equity among women and men, children and adults — all contributed what they could and shared equally in the wealth produced. Their extraordinary society was destroyed by Nyerere’s power-hungry colleagues against his will, but it showed us what is possible. Closer to Venezuela, women gained recognition under Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president (1990 and 2000). Determined to tackle extreme poverty and injustice, Aristide created a Ministry of Women’s Affairs, appointed women to ministerial posts, supported girl domestic workers and survivors of military rape. As in Venezuela, women were the main organisers and beneficiaries of literacy and

health programmes; the rise in the minimum wage benefited them especially the sweatshop workers who are mainly women. Young people’s love for Aristide is legendary, but women’s devotion has been as constant. Two months after the devastating 2010 earthquake, women collected 20,000 signatures in three days demanding President Aristide’s return from exile — they needed him for reconstruction. A year later he was back, not as president but as educator, reopening the medical school he had founded for poor students, which the coup had closed.

Recognition

In Bolivia, indigenous women were recognised as central to the mass mobilisations which propelled Evo Morales into the presidency. These included the “water wars” which drove the multinational Bechtel out of Bo-

livia (they privatised the water and criminalised people who collected rain water). In 2008 the women were prominent in surrounding Congress for several days while the new constitution was debated; the white parliamentary elite intended to absent themselves to prevent a vote. The blockade forced them to sleep in the building till the vote was taken. That constitution heralded a new level of power for women — from pay equity to recognition for the economic value of caring work. As the president of the poor is laid to rest, the historic Operation Condor trial opens in Argentina, tackling the co-ordinated campaign of state terror of former Latin American dictatorships. We must recall a little-known aspect of Chávez’s legacy. Venezuela’s oil revenue supported Argentina’s Presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, enabling them to pass laws removing the military’s immunity

“Women who live in villages work harder than anyone in Tanzania, working in the fields and in the homes.” — Julius Nyerere

from prosecution. The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who led the 1983 overthrow of the dictatorship, and who had long campaigned for justice for the thousands the dictatorships raped, murdered and disappeared, have long paid tribute to Chávez — a most unusual military man. They, like women all over South America and beyond, will be watching anxiously to see that the gains of the Bolivarian revolution are not undermined. Courtesy of the Guardian Online

Kenyan Woman Issue 36  

Kenyan Woman - Advocating for the Rights of women The Kenyan Woman is a monthly publication of AWCFS

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