Aspirants seek to end patriarchy in Turkana politics

Turkana Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor (in blue) with her supporters.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • With the gender principle remaining elusive, more women have joined mixed-gender elective races in face-offs with male aspirants.
  • Leading from the front is Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor has now trained her eyes on the Turkana Central  parliamentary seat.

Female leaders in Turkana County have vowed to end age-old patriarchal system that has undermined their political participation.

The county had only one elected woman in the 2017 General Election besides the woman representative and is one of those that would have benefitted from the two-thirds gender rule as provided for in Article 27 of the Constitution.

However, with the gender principle remaining elusive, more women have joined mixed-gender elective races in face-offs with male aspirants. Leading from the front is Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor.

“I have been representing my people in the National Assembly through a seat preserved only for women. I am relinquishing it to be part of the solution of getting increased number of women through battling for constituency seats," said Ms Emanikor, who has secured the Jubilee Party ticket in her bid to succeed Turkana Central MP John Lodepe.

Mr Lodepe is the UDA gubernatorial flag-bearer in the county. Others eyeing his current seat are former Finance executive Namuar Emathe of UDA and former Health chief officer Roberts Abok.

Wind of change

Ms Emanikor says the race will be tough but adds that the community has realised that women, too, can lead following an increase in their number occupying top positions in the county government, organisations and state agencies.

She says that during her reign as county lawmaker, she has prioritised education through bursaries and scholarships for bright students, and empowered women, girls and people living with disabilities.

The county has more than 10 women aspirants in ward representative race. They include former nominated MCA Ruth Kuya, who trounced three men, including Lodwar Township MCA Robert Lowoko, to clinch the United Democratic Alliance party ticket.

The heightened celebrations that followed her nomination victory were enough signal that the community is embracing women leadership.

"The nomination exercise was free and fair and my campaign agenda remains on activities that directly impact common wananchi, who include street families, schoolchildren from poor backgrounds, bodaboda operators, vegetable vendors, firewood suppliers, widows and the elderly," Ms Kuya said.

Senate race

In the senatorial race, newcomer Jane Apetet will contest against experienced politicians such as incumbent Prof Malachy Ekal, two-term Turkana South MP James Lomenen, and two-term Lokori/Kochodin MCA Benedict Lokamar.

She says the patriarchal nature of Turkana society has oppressed women by locking them out of leadership positions where they could have made impactful decisions.

Ms Apetet also notes that pastoralism is no longer reliable because of the fallout from climate change and bandit attacks where the youth who have never stepped into a classroom are the main perpetrators. She said the latter problem can only be eliminated through education.

"We still have high illiteracy levels in the county, a situation that must be addressed through increased investment in infrastructural development at schools, bursaries for needy children and public awareness of the importance of education," she said.

She explains that dilapidated nature of classrooms and unreliable school feeding programmes lead to high number of school dropouts.