Nakuru women lobby wants peace guaranteed during polls

Women from the slums of Nakuru City participate in a peaceful march on August 4, 2022, ahead of the August 9 elections where they called on the government to ensure there is enough security during and after the polls

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

Ahead of the August 9 elections, women in Nakuru have appealed to the government to ensure there is peace during and after the elections.

The women groups drawn from the slums of Bondeni, Lake View, Kwa Murogi, Kiratina and Free Area together with Human Rights defenders who met under the umbrella of the Young Africa Women Initiative (YAWI) appealed to candidates and political parties and the local media to foster an environment that will allow peaceful elections.

The women emphasized that peace is what women are demanding in this year's elections and urged all the stakeholders to make sure there is enough peace to enable women to participate fully in the polls process.

"We want to say no to electoral gender-based violence. My vote should inspire peace in Kenya and not violence," said Ms Fidelis Wambui Karanja, the chief executive officer of YAWI.

Ms Karanja observed that Kenya's history of disputed elections and political unrest is defined by violations of human rights including deaths as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

"As women's movement in the Rift Valley, we issue a warning that political upheaval, hate speech and incitement could lead to or escalate violence. We urge everyone involved in the election process to conduct themselves peacefully before, during and after voting," said Ms Karanja.

The women noted that the recent divisive language by politicians eying the top seat could incite violence and human rights violations, especially against women, children and disabled persons.

At the same time, the women raised concerns that the rising political tension could deter female voters who endure physical, mental and sexual harassment on their way to polling stations from casting their votes.

"We implore the government to guarantee that everyone can cast a ballot without any intimidation or restriction as enshrined in our constitution. The government has invested billions of shillings and we pray that Kenyans remain united and participate in peaceful elections where no lives will be lost, property destroyed and businesses and institutions suffering huge losses by closing down," added Ms Karanja.

Ms Joy Kamau a representative of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Better Lives urged young men to refrain from being used by the candidates and political parties to cause mayhem.

"Sexual Gender Violence occurs mostly during election violence and young men are culprits and this time we urge them to refuse to be used by candidates to cause violence against women," said Ms Kamau.

Ms Martha Nyambura from Tenacious Development Initiative, a Human Rights organization said many women with breastfeeding babies will turn out to vote and should be allowed to exercise their democratic right in peace.

"We pray for peace during the elections to allow women with breastfeeding children to cast their votes. I'm a post-election violence victim and this affected my education as I did not achieve my educational dreams," she said.

Ms Ann Njoki Kariuki of Strengthening People Engagement and Advocacy Kenya (SPEAK) said without peace during the elections many women may shy off from participating in the constitutional right.

"Any violence will disrupt the short education calendar which is already congested. Let us all maintain peace and vote peacefully because that will ensure a good economic recovery which is suffering from a high inflation rate," said Ms Kariuki.

Ms Linet Kerubo from Lake View called on residents of Nakuru not to converge at polling stations after voting to reduce cases of arguments that could culminate into physical violence.

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