Garissa youth groups organize joint debate for women candidates

Garissa women representative Mrs Anab Subow and her supporter during campaign trail in Garissa town
Picture by Abjata Khalif
Garissa women representative Mrs Anab Subow and her supporter during campaign trail in Garissa town Picture by Abjata Khalif

Youths in northern Kenya are regarded as community asset and great defender of their respective clans and are called to rise to occasion when their families and community face external threats, aggression, armed attacks and border disputes.

All inter clan strife witnessed in northern Kenya are fought by youths with support from their clans and elders in subduing their erstwhile nemesis with such armed exchanges causing huge humanitarian crisis and consequences in the region.

Another political trend that gripped northern Kenya was the use of youths by local politicians in setting political scores with their opponent while others participated in electoral induced violence which occurs some month to and after the election period.

Such development reduced youths in the region as objects meant for manipulation, misuse and abuse by moneyed politicians and other interest group without putting in mind their wellbeing and availing opportunities for them to eke dignified livelihood.

However since the 2013 general election youths in the region and especially Garissa County have asserted their full potential and authority in demanding their space and involvement in socio-political activities and decision making processes.

The youths used all available medium like social media in mobilizing youths and educating them on their rights to participate in leadership and community decision making mechanism which created pool of youth groups in every village engaging elders, women and local administration on local administration, managements, decision making processes and consultations and active participation of youths in politics.

Campaign

Sustained youth campaign and awareness in Garissa led to high number of youth aspiring candidates who forwarded their application to their respective clans who in turn conduct internal nomination and forward one name to the traditional system which organize main collegiate event where one candidate is picked for certain political seat.

Based on available statistic from local organization that were active in civic education and electoral management project in Garissa county each clan received not less than 50 application from youthful candidates with sizeable numbers of them being young female graduate aspirants.

The women representative seats attracted some 30 women candidates from various clans in Garissa, an indication that many women leaders and trail blazers saw the position as crucial in advancing for women rights and empowerments.

Out of the 30 applications for women county seats only five applications were approved and taken to the traditional Geedha system which is bestowed with role of picking the best candidate for the seat.

Strategies

But the traditional system determination of which women candidate will clinch the community blessing to go for the seat was cut short by youths in Garissa who demanded to evaluate the five women candidates through their  own ‘’citizen’’ mechanism where the five women candidates  participated in joint debate organized by youths in gauging the experience, skills, academic background and manifesto of each candidate so that they can make their own recommendation and register the same with the traditional system.

“It was a game changer and I can call it youth revolution in Garissa County. They displayed high level of maturity by engaging all women candidates and organized a well attended joint debate session where we laid bare our manifestos and answered questions from both male and female youths. It was a joint debate of its kind and only organized in Kenya,” Garissa Women representative Mrs Anab Subow stated in an interview.

Each candidate was required to deposit her manifesto which was widely circulated to village youth groups and also to detail their five year work plan to the audience and the strategies they will use to promote education, economic empowerment,  girl child education, land and property rights, fighting outdated practices, Equipping and improving health facilities and infrastructures, fighting  for all inclusive political space in northern Kenya, advancing human and women rights in Garissa and empowering youths in accessing economic opportunities .

The youth groups who were behind the idea of engaging women representative candidates devised a new strategy where they streamed the debate live on social media for other youths from Garissa who are outside the town to participate and share their views and thoughts.

‘’ The event was streamed live and received audiences and active comments from Garissa youths living outside the town and sizeable number from abroad especially United States and Europe. They shared their thought, ideas and voted on the best candidate and the one with most promising manifesto.’’  Stated Khalif Abdi, Executive Director of Northern Forum for Democracy.

The youth joint  debate session released their voting result based on votes they received from youths within and without Garissa County boundaries and the current elected Garissa women representative Mrs Anab subow garnered some 6,000 votes which catapulted her prominence and making it easier for her from the traditional system which also recommended her for the post.

Other women representative candidates protested the result though they lauded the joint debate organized by Garissa youth.