What you need to know:
- 2022 is likely to be the year when the country is expected to have the highest placed female candidate picked by a mainstream party.
- Representation of women in Parliament, county assemblies will remain negligible after the August 9 poll, sadly.
It is noteworthy that a good number of women MPs, nominated to Parliament in 2017, have thrown their hats into the ring to contest various seats.
That political parties have not met the gender quota in their just ended nominations cannot be gainsaid.
The end result is that the representation of women in elective politics—at the National Assembly, Senate and County Assemblies—will remain negligible after August 9.
That notwithstanding, it is likely to be the year when the country is expected to have the highest placed female candidate picked by a mainstream party.
But this will only happen should the Azimio coalition pick the indefatigable Martha Karua, the Narc Kenya leader, as a presidential running mate of a leading contender, ODM leader Raila Odinga. It will be a first for the country to have a possible female deputy president if Mr Odinga wins the election.
Ms Karua, a lawyer and senior counsel, is one of the most respected and principled politicians in Kenya, and is extremely qualified for that office. This, given her many years of experience as MP and Cabinet Minister in two portfolios. She was also a presidential candidate in the 2013 election.
Learnt on the job
It is noteworthy that a good number of women MPs, nominated to Parliament in 2017, have thrown their hats into the ring to contest various seats. This move is quite commendable and only goes to demonstrate that they have learnt on the job in the last five years and will not be running from a vacuum.
Some of their predecessors have been successful on learning how to jump the barriers and hurdles that litter the road to women’s elective politics.
Other female who have emerged unscathed from the chaotic party nominations are those defending their seats in the single-member constituencies.
There are also new entrants in this highly competitive categories, who clinched party tickets to run in the mixed member constituencies.
Some of the women in the race for MPs in the mixed member constituencies include Lamu Woman Rep Ruweida Obbo, who is the first female pilot from the Bajuni community. The County MP also seeks to make history, should she clinch the Lamu East parliamentary seat on August 9.
Making room for others
Notably, Ms Obbo, running on a Jubilee ticket, chose to move to a constituency seat to allow another woman to go for the County MP. She will compete with at least three male rivals for the seat, including the incumbent.
In the neighbouring Lamu West, Narc Kenya’s Maryimmaculate Nyagah is determined to capture the seat that has attracted 12 aspirants. Ms Nyagah is the only woman in the race that promises to be quite competitive. She believes she will clinch it.
Nominated senators Abshiro Halake and Naomi Wako, are among women seeking to be elected to the National Assembly in various constituencies.
Halima Mucheke (UDA nominated MP) is running for the Imenti North seat, which has also attracted two other female candidates, Beatrice Karwitha of Jubilee and Caroline Karimi of DEB, also known as the Mbus.
It is encouraging that, for the first time, this election has attracted more women candidates for mixed member seats in the National Assembly in Meru.
The other constituencies are Igembe Central and Tigania East where Eunice Karema of Mbus and Tarsisa Kawiria, an Independent, are running.
From the Senate, Ms Halake is flying Kanu’s flag for the Isiolo North seat, while Rev Wako of UDA is in the race for Marsabit woman rep and so are MPs Denitta Ghati (Migori, ODM) and Nasra Sahal of Wajir County.
The sitting MPs who weathered tough nominations to defend their constituency seats include UDA’s Jayne Kihara of Naivasha, Gilgil’s Martha Wangari and their Njoro counterpart Charity Kathambi.
Others include Ms Millie Odhiambo Mabona of Suba North (ODM), Kandara’s Alice Wahome and Maragua’s Mary Waithira Wamaua who did not have opponents for the UDA ticket.
In Kiharu Constituency, Dr Judy Makira, a lecturer at the University of Embu, seeks to make history as the constituency’s first woman MP.
In Nairobi, Beatrice Elachi, a former nominated senator and Nairobi County Assembly Speaker who resigned as Gender CAS to contest the Dagoretti Parliamentary seat, is confident to successfully raise ODM’s flag.
However, it is in governorship where the numbers of women seeking to be county bosses may be discouraging. Those in the race include UDA’s Anne Waiguru of Kirinyaga, Susan Kihika of Nakuru and Aisha Jumwa in Malindi. Governor Waiguru is in a tight race with Wangui Ngirici, an independent, as well as Ms Karua, among others.
In Kitui, Charity Ngilu is defending her seat and the race promises to be heated.
In all, it is kudos to female candidates in this election. It behoves the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to ensure support for female candidates who are always at a disadvantaged position in the elective political space, in all aspects.
Ms Rugene is a former Nation parliamentary Editor and founder, The Woman’s Newsroom Foundation. Email: [email protected]