Roll call for women leaders as political charter is launched

It’s our time to eat: Women aspirants at the launch of Kenya Women's Political Charter on the eve of their party primaries.Photo Odhiambo Orlale
It’s our time to eat: Women aspirants at the launch of Kenya Women's Political Charter on the eve of their party primaries.Photo Odhiambo Orlale

The casualty rate of women aspirants in the just-concluded hotly contested and chaotic party nominations is one of the highest in the country’s history.

Out of the handful who vied in Jubilee, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Wiper, the three most popular parties, for the gubernatorial race, only six romped home as victors eying the 47 seats.

The case was not any better for those in the senatorial race, only three women leaders made it in the major political parties for the 47 seats to be filled in August 8 during the General Elections.

Those who were defending or vying for parliamentary seats in their respective parties also suffered at the hands of voters, party and/or election officials.

Details of the women aspirants for the Member of the County Assemblies have still not been made public, but indications was that the axe fell on many of them.

By the time of going to press all the registered political parties led by Jubilee Party, ODM, Wiper, Ford Kenya and Amani National Congress among 50 others had concluded their party primaries.

The six women in the gubernatorial race are: Jubilee Party’s Deputy Speaker, Joyce Laboso (Bomet),   Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Atieno Otieno (Kisumu).

In Kitui and Machakos was former Cabinet Minister Charity Ngilu (NARC, and Wavinya Ndeti (Wiper) respectively.

NARC Kenya leader, Martha Karua, who is a former presidential candidate and former Cabinet Minister, got an automatic ticket to vie for the Kirinyaga Governor’s seat in the forthcoming polls.

Battle lines

However, the battle lines had been drawn and three women leaders who put a spirited fight lost in the hotly contested gubernatorial race in Nairobi, Embu and Migori, respectively.

They were Jubilee Party’s Bishop Margaret Wanjiru (Nairobi) and Cecily Mbarire (Embu) as well as ODM’s Anne Omodho Anyanga in Migori.

Jubilee Party on the other hand had three women politicians who managed to trounce their male rivals in the senatorial race; they were former Cabinet Minister Margaret Kamar, who was former Eldoret East MP, in Uasin-Gishu County; Nakuru County Assembly Speaker, Susan Kihika, and Taita-Taveta Women Representative Joyce Lay.

A handful of women politicians managed to win the party primaries and these are Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Dr Lilian Gogo (Rangwe); Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), and Mishi Mboko Likoni.

On the Jubilee Party ticket Dr Naomi Shaban retained the Taveta seat, Nominated Senator Joy Gwendo (Kisumu East), Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East);  Alice Wahome (Kandara), Alice Nganga (Thika Town), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha) and Wanjiku wa Kibe (Gatundu North).

Big losers

Those who lost their seats are Esther Murugi (Nyeri Town), Mary Wambui (Othaya, Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri County) and Anna Nyokabi Gatecha (Kiambu County).

If the party primaries are anything to go by, women politicians still have a long way to go in capturing more elective seats independent of the two third gender which is yet to be passed by the National Assembly.

A Gender Audit conducted by FIDA Kenya on the 2013 polls shows that only 16 out of the 129 women who vied for the 290 vacant parliamentary seats were declared winners out of 2,097 candidates on the ballot paper.

Numbers

There were only six women candidates for the 47 seats for Governor out of 237 candidates cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). They all lost. No woman vied for senatorial position out of 244 candidates.

The sad story was replicated for MCAs in the 47 counties where 623 women vied for the 1,450 MCAs’ seats out of a pool of 9,910, but only 91 were elected.

Last month, the Deputy Speaker, who doubles as the Sotik MP, launched the Kenya Women’s Political Party Charter in Nairobi, at a function organised by Women’s’ Empowerment Link, a local non-governmental organisation promoting women and girl’s rights.

Addressing over 500 guests, Laboso reminded women that politics has been a man’s game for too long and they must now fight for their political space at all costs if they are to succeed.

According to Laboso, a two-term MP, politics is a high adrenaline job and “no one wants to hear you crying. It is not a kindergarten, work hard and let the people feel you”.

Turning to the controversial affirmative action rule enshrined in the 2010 Constitution, Laboso confessed that most men she has interacted with do not want it implemented, especially in the Legislature.

As an elected MP, Laboso confessed, she has never subscribed to “free ride (nomination)” for women as Member of the County Assembly (MCA), Member of Parliament (MP) and/or as Senators saying it is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers.

So as the country prepares for the August 8 General Election, women should brace for an even stiffer fight with their male rivals knowing that the stakes are even higher.