On February 1, 2022, The Luo Nation posted a video of Mary Ojode, campaigning on its Facebook page. She was an aspirant for the seat of Homa Bay County Woman Representative.
In the video she says in Dholuo:
"Nyako kata ka en ja higni mia achiel to pok okende, iwacho ni nyar ng’ane ni dalagi kacha. Omiyo kata dibed nyako machalo nade kikao telo monego momi ng’a mamiyo to imiyo ng’a manyako, kae to kiny oyudo Ja-Migori oyude, odhi gi tendwa. Kae to Jo-Migori kata jokune koro bedo gi telo ariyo to wan wadong’ nono. Omiyo position en mar mon ok en mar nyako; koro kidware siemnwa chuori."
(A lady who is not yet married even if she is 100 years old, people will say that ‘girl’ is still living at her parents’ home. When you give unmarried lady leadership position, tomorrow she will get a man from Migori or elsewhere and she will go with our seat. Migori people - or any other place where she will get married - will get two seats and we will remain with nothing. The position (Woman Rep seat) is for married women and not for ladies who are not yet married. Therefore, if you want this position, show us your husband.”
As of January 23, 2023, the video had attracted 16,000 views.
But, is the claim that the Woman Representative seat is reserved for only married women, accurate?
First, Article 97 of the Kenyan constitution on the membership of the National Assembly provides for the election of 47 women by registered voters, each representing a particular county. Nowhere in the article does it specify that only women with spouses, in a marriage, or widowed are qualified for the position.
Neither does Article 99(1) provide marital status as a qualification for election into Parliament. Going by the constitutional provision, a woman would be eligible for election to the National Assembly if she is a registered voter, satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by the Constitution or Act of Parliament. She can be nominated by a political party or can run as an independent candidate.
An independent candidate, under Article 85 is one who is not a registered member of a political party and has not been a member for at least three months immediately before the date of the election, and equally satisfies the set educational, moral, and ethical requirements. Once again, marital status is not a prerequisite.
Second, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has explicit guidelines on who can be cleared to run for the Woman Representative seat and the documents required to facilitate the clearance.
One is expected to present a copy of the document used to register as a voter such as a national identity card or valid passport and a passport-size photograph with white background submitted in hard and soft copy.
If nominated by the party, she would then need to present a nomination certificate, duly signed by an authorized official of the party alongside a duly signed and dated Code of Conduct.
She should also arm herself with a duly filled nomination form from the Commission and an original statutory declaration form for purposes of nomination.
Once again, the IEBC does not require proof of marriage to clear one for the Woman Representative contest.
By way of example, in the August 2022 elections, Linet Chepkorir was elected Woman Representative to represent Bomet County in the National Assembly and she is not married.
The claim by Mary Ojode that the Woman Representative seat is reserved for married women is false.