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Special Post-Election Issue A comprehensive coverage of GENDER and ELECTIONS
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Issue Number 36 • April 2013
Women must hit ground running as assemblies start sittings
he electioneering period has finally come to an end and women, despite their performance must move forward. Energy should now focus towards sustaining the momentum started two decades ago that culminated in the gains currently entrenched in the Constitution. The highlight of it was the affirmative action clause and the two thirds gender rule on all elective positions for governors, senate and national assembly that the Supreme Court ruled would take effect from 2015
However, that is water under the bridge and the women’s movement must explore ways of using elected representatives in all positions to take their agenda to the Senate as well as national and county assemblies. We salute the new waheshimiwa (honourable members) and urge them not to relax but to hit the ground running armed with their gender agenda. The affirmative action war now begins in earnest. The women leaders must be strategic, organized and coordinated in order to achieve set goals. It is worrying that up to now no woman has declared interest in contesting as a Speaker or a Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly or of the Senate.
Individuals elected must demonstrate that the seats are not a preserve for men. We look forward to seeing the likes of vocal and fiery former MPs like Millie Odhiambo (Mbita); Rachel Shebesh (Women’s representative Nairobi County); Gender minister Dr Naomi Shaban (Taveta); Tourism Assistant minister Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes); Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi (Nyeri Town) and Former Higher Education minister Helen Sambili (Mogotio) leading from the front. They are among the 16 women leaders who were elected as Members of Parliament (MPs) out of 290 seats. Another five women have been nominated by the political parties to the national assembly. The senate has seen 16 women nominated plus another two, one youth and one disabled also joining them. All the 47 governors and an equal number of senators-elect are men as per the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) final list.
However, the MPs-elect and the women’s representatives need not look far for lessons of how to succeed in the political arena. History was made by the likes of Grace Onyango as the first woman to be elected mayor, MP; Margaret Kenyatta as first woman mayor of Nairobi in the 1960s; outgoing Gichugu MP, Martha Karua, who was a presidential candidate in the just concluded polls, served as Deputy Leader of Government Business among others. They should lobby for representation as Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the two houses and also target to be chairpersons of crucial House committees. Indeed, every election in Kenya since independence 50 years ago has been an experiment and the just concluded election is not an exception.
Against all odds Women lose in the coalitions as those from marginalised communities make history
…By Jane Godia
hile women thought they would benefit from the new political order within the new constitutional dispensation, it has actually proved to be their undoing. The just concluded General Election has left women trailing behind and wondering if ever communities within which they live and vie will ever elect them to political leadership. Among eight presidential candidates was one woman Martha Karua who was ranked in the sixth position after she managed to garner only 43,881 votes. Total votes cast were 12,338,667. Karua who initially had a lot of women behind her, seems to have lost ground when women abandoned her to pay loyalty to their parties.
Initially when the Constitution was promulgated in 2010, the women’s movement was on frenzy creating awareness about the gains within the new laws. It was agreed that women will vote as a bloc for one of their own no matter the tribe or party affiliation. However the outcome of the General Election was a clear indication that women were still not ready to support each other. Despite being the majority in terms
of population and even as registered voters, it seems the women were swayed by other forces to abandon their own and vote in men.
Kenyans queue to cast their votes in the just concluded General Elections. Despite the numerous measures put in place to ensure more women were elected, they are still trailing behind. Below: An elderly woman casts her ballot in display of her democratic right. Pictures: Kenyan Woman Correspondent & Ben Oroko
Out of the 47 counties no woman was elected for the gubernatorial seat. However, only nine women will be managing counties as deputy governors. These are Penina Malonza (Kitui), Fatuma Achani (Kwale), Hazel Nyamoki Katana (Mombasa), Adelina Mwau (Makueni), Evelyn Chepkurui (Narok), Ruth Adhiambo (Kisumu), Mary Ndiga Kibuka (Taita Taveta), Dorothy Nditi Muchungu (Embu) and Susan Chepkoech Kikwai (Kericho). Hopefully when the governors will be meeting with the president in the scheduled biannual meetings, at least some of these women will be present. In 1963 when Kenya established its first government, there were 41 senators and none was a woman. The scenario has been replayed this year, after the Senate position was entrenched in the new constitutional dispensation. In the just concluded General Election, no woman was elected senator. However, unlike 1963, this time around 16 women will be nominated by political parties to the Senate as required by the Constitution. Another two women —a youth and a person living with disability — will also
find their way to the Senate house. In total, the Senate will have 18 women out of the total 68 members.
The elections which were conducted under major coalitions helped in strengthening the presidential candidate and by extension male candidates. While many men lost nominations with parties that were within strongholds, some of them moved on to other smaller parties within the alliances and won. In this case, there were no blocs for parties where people only voted for one party. Unfortunately the coalitions did not benefit women and the women’s movement lost the strongest women politicians. These included Prof Margaret Kamar, Beatrice Kones, Linah Jebii Kilimo, Sally Kosgei, Wavinya Ndeti, Margaret Wanjiru, Elizabeth Ongoro and Charity Ngilu. Ongoro who wanted to vie for Nairobi Senate was forced to give up her bid for Margaret Wanjiru to enable the Cord CoContinued on page 3
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