Mt Kenya women leaders demand gender parity in governor contest

Mt Kenya region leaders, including Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Kirinyaga Woman Rep Purity Ngirici, Kandara MP Alice Wahome and Laikipia Woman Rep Cate Waruguru, at a past event. They have demanded that  male gubernatorial contenders in the region pick female deputies.  

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mt Kenya women pressure groups are demanding that male contenders for gubernatorial contests pick females as their running mates.
  • They are also pushing for the winning gubernatorial ticket if deputised by a woman,  have the finance docket under her.
  • Male contenders who do not pick women as their deputy governor candidates will not be considered worth of the women’s vote in the region.

Mt Kenya women pressure groups have laid bare their demands for gubernatorial contests, demanding that male contenders pick females as their running mates.

They say they will not go to the August polls without first ensuring that the deputy governors enjoy some power.

“We want a situation where before the general election date, all gubernatorial aspirants commit themselves to drawing a negotiated pact that will spell out the powers the deputy will have, the pact be made public and binding for the term in office,” says Mt Kenya Women Aspirants Caucus chairperson Wanjiku Ndegwa.

She says the winning gubernatorial ticket if deputised by a woman, must have the finance docket under her — so that “for us to prove that the same way we apply equity in sharing food from our kitchens, is the same way we will allocate resources to all corners of our counties.”

The women say they have realised that legislators cannot be trusted with enacting the two-thirds gender rule as the Constitution demands.

“We have learnt the hard way that round-table and workshop negotiations on gender parity in politics is taking us nowhere. We have realised that unless we rise up and charge for our rightful share through our majority votes as leverage, we will be swept under the bus for the next five years,” says Federation of African Women Educationists coordinator Cecilia Wanjiku.

Watching carefully

She says male contenders who do not pick women as their deputy governor candidates will not be considered worth of the women’s vote in the region.

“We know the electoral laws demand that the contest ticket be declared before the voting day. We are watching carefully; we will not hesitate to call our troops together to oppose those who ignore us,” she says.

Kigumo parliamentary aspirant Faith Nyanjui, however, urges caution in this debate.

“We should not just be advocates for gender equality for the sake of sounding like activists...the debate must have quality. When we demand gender parity in the contest tickets, the guiding light must be quality contestants, with proven ability,” she says.

She notes that where quality is the measure; it is possible to have a male-male or a female-female contest ticket being the best for the aspirations of the voters.

“We should insist on quality leaders and in that approach, first treat ourselves equally as contestants, then organise our contest tickets with the objective being to give our people the best of our abilities,” she argues.

Male deputies

She says she is contesting the Kigumo seat not as a woman but a leader ready to showcase her leadership qualities, vision and actualisation plan — not as a cry baby campaigning with the banner of gender parity as sympathy agenda. Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru supports the women’s call, saying all female governors have so far demonstrated goodwill to gender parity by appointing male deputies.

“My deputy is Peter Ndambiri and my sister Martha Karua who competed against me in 2017 had picked Gachoki Gitari as deputy. There is no reason why this cannot be the unwritten law in the 2022 contest,” she said.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has Dr Wathe Nzau as deputy, while recently appointed Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu picked Mutunga Mutungi. Bomet County first governor Joyce Laboso had Dr Hillary Barchok and he has succeeded his boss after her death as per the Constitution — he, however, trashed the gender goodwill when he appointed Shadrack Rotich as deputy.

Mt Kenya Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Lucy Nyambura, who is gunning for Murang’a County woman rep seat, says, “We are negotiating hard to ensure there is gender parity in these contest tickets.”

Mandatory consensus

She says all counties should have man and woman as governor and deputy after the 2022 poll, to let the world know that Kenya is a country that values all genders.

“Women have been committed to gender parity… our men are not…We will see to it that we approach 2022 from a point of mandatory consensus.

Women who have declared their interest in running for the gubernatorial seat in the Mt Kenya region include Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, Waiguru, Karua, Nyandarua Woman Rep Faith Gitau; Nakuru Woman Rep Susan Kihika, Kawira Mwangaza in Meru,  Kirinyaga Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici and nominated MP Cecily Mbarire in Embu.

Former Maragua MP Elias Mbau tells nation.africa that he is leading a caucus to address the issue in Murang’a County after it emerged that women are serious on the issue.

“It is something we cannot ignore. We must take our women along with us not because they deserve favours, but because they have proved competency. Their demand is logical and valid…This is the modern way of approaching public office and we have no choice but listen,” he says.

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