Changing mind-sets to support women’s leadership

Changing mind sets to support women’s leadership

What you need to know:

  • It is no longer a phenomenon to see women competitively going for elective positions alongside their male counterparts.
  • A national non-profit making organisation has been striving to build the capacity of communities to be actors in their own development.
  • The organisation recently held a series of inter-gender forums in Burnt Forest, Uasin Gishu County, to enhance women's leadership.
  • Culture remains an important factor in women’s leadership with patriarchy being deep rooted.

Patriarchal reinforcements of the African society have undermined the prospects of women in political leadership for a long time.

Nevertheless, things are changing. It is no longer a phenomenon to see women competitively going for elective positions alongside their male counterparts.

As the debate on Kenya’s efforts to achieve the two-thirds gender rule rages on, deliberate efforts by civil society, political parties as well as development partners geared towards an egalitarian society are slowly beginning to bear fruit.

It is on this note that Community Education and Empowerment Centre (CEEC), a national non-profit making organisation has been striving to build the capacity of communities to be actors in their own development.

Uasin Gishu County

The organisation recently held a series of inter-gender forums in Burnt Forest, Uasin Gishu County, to enhance women's leadership.

CEEC project officer Ms Patricia Simiyu said they plan to implement the project in other parts of the country too.

“We have held separate meetings with male allies. We also had a separate meeting with the female allies. We wanted them to share how best they can enhance women’s leadership and share challenges they face in promoting female leadership,” said Ms Simiyu.

Culture remains an important factor in women’s leadership with patriarchy being deep rooted, a fact Ms Simiyu gathered from the discussions.

 “At the end of the meeting, we got commitment from all quarters that they will support women moving forward,” explained Ms Simiyu.

Male allies

The organization, she says, plans to build the capacity of other residents to enable them understand and enhance women’s leadership.

“We have previously done Rukuini farm, Ndungulu and we now hope that towards the end of this project, we shall see more women taking up leadership positions. Banking on the support of their male allies, we believe this will go a long way in building their leadership capacity,” she added.  

Mrs Mary Chepkemboi Missos, from Rukuine, who spoke on behalf of the trainees said that upon the completion of the programme, they realised that women face a myriad of challenges including lack of security during campaigns.

“Women aspiring for leadership positions lack agents because some get threatened and shy away from supporting them. Women also lack financial support with most of them depending on their spouses; when going for political seats, they must first get the approval of their husbands or the entire community,” said Ms Missos.

Stay at home

She added that women are still surrounded by cultural beliefs, citing the Kalenjin community where she observed that women are categorised as people who should stay at home and take care of their homesteads.

“Some communities tell off any woman aspirant saying that if elected, she will run away from her husband or start engaging in prostitution and may not find the time to take care of her home,” she added.

She, however, indicated that those who went through the training had learnt strategies they can use to overcome these challenges.

Mobilise funds

“We need to have team work. As women, we can team up and support each other through looking for support to uplift one of us. This can be done through merry-go-rounds to mobilise funds for her,” she explained.

Ms Simiyu said for women to emerge as strong political leaders, there is need for political will and commitment to create democratic spaces that deliberately sustain women's engagement beyond the electioneering period.

“With the female population being more than 50 per cent and with 46.6 per cent of the 19.6 million registered voters, women's contribution to democracy in Kenya is extremely important,” said Ms Simiyu.