August election rekindled the girl child’s dream
What you need to know:
- Following the 2022 elections, we now have a marked growth in both the number of contestants who are women and those that actually won.
- How was this achieved? A 2010 constitutional provision introduced a “two-thirds gender rule” to enable more women to get into leadership. But it is not easy getting there.
Our country’s political panorama has taken a new shade after the recent Elections 2022, which is weaved and hemmed in a record number of women to power positions in Kenya.
The inspirational figures include seven governors, three senators and 29 MPs, in what is surely a sharp rise towards gender equality, reshaping lives and altering leadership perspectives. It has rekindled the girl-child’s dreams.
The sky is clearing. Kenya has long struggled to get women into politics. With the August 9 elections, we have a watershed moment. In Nakuru for instance, female candidates were elected to eight positions, including governor, senator and woman representative, with Susan Kihika, Tabitha Karanja and Liza Chelule claiming those victories.
The most outstanding of course was the election of a 24-year-old Linet Chepkorir Toto in Bomet as Women Representative. It is almost as if the cultural double doors have pushed open and led Kenyans of all ages to a stage where they can show their mettle.
Following the 2022 elections, we now have a marked growth in both the number of contestants who are women and those that actually won.
How was this achieved? A 2010 constitutional provision introduced a “two-thirds gender rule” to enable more women to get into leadership. But it is not easy getting there.
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association notes that many women continued to face political attacks. Verbal attacks, harassment and even rape were reported signalling that there is still a lot to be done to safeguard the woman contestant.
Yet still from the soil of this trauma has arisen huge female leadership, tilting the scales. The seven female governor-elects: Susan Kihika (Nakuru County), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay County), Cecily Mbarire (Embu County), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos County), and Fatuma Achani (Kwale County), Kawira Mwangaza (Meru County) and Anne Waiguru (re-elected for Kirinyaga County) have made history by emboldening a romantic ideal that strengthens the female voice in Kenya.
Kawira Mwangaza won as an independent candidate in Meru County after a gruelling battle that torched the political future of former kingpin Kiraitu Murungi and firebrand Mithika Linturi. Mwangaza started elective politics in 2013 by contesting in Buuri constituency, spending and losing Sh20 million, but it was her ‘Operation Okolea, a program that reached over 500 families in Meru’ that turned her fortunes.
In Taita Taveta County, Patience Nyange led a spirited and consistent AminiaMama gubernatorial campaign. Her campaign advocated for gender equality reminding her community that the important pillars are education, health, youth and governance.
Though she lost, she brought a lot of flair, flavour and substance to the contest. In fact it can be said that her savvy, hands-on social media campaign advanced the gubernatorial agenda-setting for her male and female counterparts.
Another candidate, Rachel Mwakazi Skjaarpe put a strong developmental agenda with candid work on the ground but lost in the primaries.
Although both men and women face elective burdens, women are substantially likely to pay for leadership quests with more weight.
The complexity of illiteracy and lack of empathy and compassion and maybe even tenderness is washing away thanks to an educated society. It is also buoyed by affirmative action and the rise of judicial avenues.
Women are in touch with the empathetic side of life. A hybrid leadership therefore stands to generate broader societal impacts on equity, changing workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women, and attracting a more diverse workforce.
Because women are by nature more curious and grittier they are more likely to understand the pervasive nature of loss, keenly attune to the marginalised communities and more likely to perceive the true needs of a community while men tend to be more aggressive, go-getter regardless of pitfalls.
Both men and women are therefore key in building great leadership. Together, the two genders bring seasoned adventures, restrained passions, compassion, complex analysis and ultimately growth with tenderness.
It is going to be interesting to see how the 13th Parliament will navigate and assimilate the new gender mix.
The writer is a communications consultant, biographer and columnist. Twitter: @goldfishpr Email: [email protected]