What you need to know:
- Dissolution of Parliament for failure to enact a law on two-thirds gender principle may be a step towards achieving gender equality in political leadership.
- We need a ready constituent of women candidates at all levels from presidential to gubernatorial to senatorial to MP level to County Assembly.
- Women must create a physical, moral and mental support system for themselves to maintain their stability in politics.
Dissolution of Parliament for failure to enact a law on two-thirds gender principle may be a step towards achieving gender equality in political leadership.
Fida-Kenya executive director Ms Anne Ireri, however, says it would be an exercise in futility if women fail to prepare themselves to compete for the county and national political seats.
“As much as we might actually get dissolution of Parliament and we go to the field, the key starting point is for women to understand that we are not seeking favours. We have proven that we are up to the task,” she said during a recent Women and their Journey Towards Electoral Contest in Kenya webinar.
“We need a ready constituent of women candidates at all levels from presidential to gubernatorial to senatorial to MP level to County Assembly, so that by the time the field opens up we are not running helter-skelter to fill up the positions. Because then, we will have shot ourselves on the foot,” she added in the virtual meeting hosted by Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya (CMD-Kenya).
She said there is no time for women to develop cold-feet as the Constitution has provided them with the space to seek elective seats.
“You need to have a tough skin. Any time a woman declares her candidature, people begin to realise you are a woman. Look at what Kamala Harris (Democratic vice-president candidate in 2020 US election) has to deal with every day,” she said.
Kandara MP Ms Alice Wahome said women must create a physical, moral and mental support system for themselves to maintain their stability in politics.
She exemplified her 2013 nomination experience as an encouragement for women to get over the fear of politics as a dirty game.
On the morning of March 17, 2013, her agents found packets of condoms labelled as gifts from Alice Muthoni Wahome -littered in the polling stations.
Their purpose, she said, was to mess up her votes but she finally won. She vied on The National Alliance (TNA), founding party of ruling Jubilee Party.
“I went through it all,” she said.
The Kandara MP said women must prove their value to their political parties for them to receive commensurate support.
“You will have a clout to have a political cost for your party. So that the party can see that you are value to them. And that you should not be the first to be cleared,” she said.
She added: “Politics is a competition and you must agree to enter into the competition without expecting too much of favour but too much of merit.”
She was concerned that female candidates fail to seek mentorship soon enough, a lack of tactic that dims their chances for successful electoral contest.
The legislator, who is one of the 16 elected female MPs in the current Parliament, vouched for solidarity of grassroots women as the backbone of women’s rise into political leadership.
She said women’s support is reliable as they are hard to dissuade except in circumstances when voting on basis of clanism prevails.
“We need women in the powerful positions and a women’s movement that brings the right sensitisation to women so that women can support other women,” she said.
Ms Wahome supports dissolution of Parliament noting that the move would highlight the gravity of defaulting on enacting the two-thirds gender principle.
“I hope we can reach there (dissolution of Parliament) so that this gender thing can be understood that this is a human rights issue,” she said.