Political misogyny will ruin Kenya

Ruto Cabinet meeting

President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, on February 28, 2023. The Cabinet lifted the former President Uhuru Kenyatta-era ban on procurement of new IPPs, citing the need to increase power generation at a time cyclic drought is becoming more extreme, thus reducing hydropower generation. 

Photo credit: PCS

Our politics is bad. In fact, it is worse than anything else that is happening in the country. It affects every facet of our lives and undermines progress. It is loud, brash, vengeful, arrogant and violent. It has replaced democracy with death, devastation, destruction and myopia.

The UDA government has exemplified this retrogressive and misogynistic politics than any other political party I remember in my adult life. Theirs has been either about using pre-emptive tactics when it came to embezzlement by blaming the past regime or going on full-throttle revenge on anyone associated with the past regime and the Opposition.

UDA has not wasted time to regroup their political base and destroy other political parties as it looks to tighten its grip on power. These all happened within months of the party coming to power. I do not think the pursuit of Dr Fred Matiang’i, former Interior Cabinet Secretary, was of any emergency compared to the drought affecting millions of Kenyans or the high cost of living that is biting for many.

Gender equality

As Kenya joined the world to mark International Women’s Day last week, I wondered whether there was anything for women in Kenya to celebrate when they are kept away from the policymaking high table still occupied by misogynistic men with the power to lord it over the rest of us with an iron fist. Our top cadre of government is all men.

From the President and his deputy, the generals, Defence minister, Attorney-General and Speakers of the bicameral Parliament. The county assemblies are not any better. Of the 47 counties, only three women were elected as governors. Gender equality in the national and county governments is still a pipe dream.

The hurly-burly of politics is expected for one to win but, if aggression and violence become part of a political process, then something has gone awry. It seems acceptable for Kenyan male politicians to lock horns and fight it out in public through verbal and physical abuse.

Where there are male politicians in a campaign in Kenya, there is bound to be aggression and violence. Which has now become part and parcel of our politics. As a result, women politicians have been forced to aspire to become alpha-female to succeed in politics by exhibiting male attributes of political aggression and violence.

Most corrupt

Kenya has appeared on the Transparency International Index as one of the most corrupt countries. That most of those implicated in corruption are men could, perhaps, indicate the risk-taking nature of men compared to women. Therefore, taking the chance of raiding the public coffers and embezzling public funds goes with the territory of being men.

Consequently, the misogynistic streak in most of those men implicated in corruption also prepares them to fight the claims of theft of public funds by using aggression, lies and further risk-taking in the form of interference and/or killing of witnesses. I am not suggesting that women in Kenya are not corrupt but, perhaps, they are not as brazen as the men, who are psychologically primed to be misogynistic, aggressive and risk-takers.

Men are known to commit murder and kill than women. Hence, their penchant for violence is higher than that of women. The initial reaction of most men is of a violent nature, whether that be verbal, physical or going into combat. Women, on the other hand, are instinctively protectors and will approach issues in a less threatening manner and inculcate peaceful ways of existence as they have a lot to lose, given the impact of aggression and violence on their families and communities.

The women are always left to pick up the pieces and rebuild families after men have destroyed the world with their aggressive nature through war or violent politics.

Women’s Day

I believe Kenyan politics would be better without misogyny. It is pointless to celebrate Women’s Day year in, year out when the reality is, men still rule the roost, the government and anywhere there is a hint of power. Most Kenyan men still consider women to be the weaker sex. Hence, sexual abuse of teenage girls and women is generally is normalised because men, who are the perpetrators, have other men condoning the crime.

The power exercised over women by Kenyan men still puts them in vulnerable positions at home, in the streets and now in politics. The Gender Equality Bill failed not because of women MPs but the men, who opposed it vehemently. This is because they thought the women were going to take over politics and undermine their patriarchal status in society.

Would we have a better society if women ran the country? Absolutely yes! The mother hen in us will, naturally, offer protection of the weakest in society. War and violence will, hopefully, be eradicated than be a penis-extension sport by men. Let us recalibrate the gender parity in government 50/50 for progress and peace.

Misogyny is the enemy of Kenyan society, and it must end.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected], @kdiguyo