What you need to know:
- Dr Sarah Kilemi says Meru is a patriarchal community where women in politics seldom do well, and Ms Mwangaza's removal could worsen the situation.
- She says Ms Mwangaza’s election had demystified the notion that Meru women could not be elected to political seats.
A former United Nations official has expressed fear that the intended impeachment motion against Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza could hurt women's chances in elective politics should it succeed.
Dr Sarah Kilemi said Meru is a patriarchal community where women in politics seldom do well, observing that the situation could further be complicated should Ms Mwangaza lose her seat.
She said Ms Mwangaza’s election had demystified the notion that Meru women could not be elected to political seats but regretted that the current situation could derail their quest for increased representation.
Dr Kilemi appealed to residents not to judge women based on Ms Mwangaza's tenure, adding that many women from the region have excelled in influential positions. She was speaking at the Village Trust (TVT) centre in Tigania, where she distributed sanitary towels to schoolgirls.
Besides women representatives, only Ms Ann Rita Karimi has ever been elected as an MP in the region. She was, however, hounded out of office before she completed her term.
Currently, Meru has only one elected female ward representative out of the 45 elected members of the county assembly.
"When Governor Kawira was elected, we said 'thank you God patriarchal society of Meru has eventually realised that we, women, have the potential to lead,' but this has not lasted long.
“If we lose this position (governorship), the men will never look at us the same way, it is going to take time,” Dr Kilemi said.
She blamed the impending impeachment on rivalry stemming from last year’s gubernatorial contest and Ms Mwangaza’s failure to work with some of her former opponents.
“The enmity that was formed during the campaigns continues to run up to now… The Senate gave her a second chance on condition that she work with all, but she ended up not doing it and many felt that she belittled them.
“Meru women should not be looked at through the eyes of one woman, and we should not be judged because of the performance of one of us.
“The mere fact of one of us not meeting the expectations of the majority does not mean all Meru women should be put in one basket,” Dr Kilemi said.
She, however, expressed optimism that the impeachment motion would fail and Ms Mwangaza would redeem herself by pursuing an inclusive approach to leadership.