New dawn: Women's historic wins in year of firsts, shifting tides and upsets

Women celebrate the election of Kwale's first woman governor Fatuma Achani in Tiwi Magodzoni , Kwale County on August 14, 2022. 

Photo credit: Siago Cece | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • While the women didn't make it to at least a third of the positions as the constitution requires, the increased number has been celebrated as a sign of big things to come.
  • The number of women elected to various positions in the August 9 polls has climbed up to 194 from 179 in 2017.
  • The number of women governors has doubled from three to seven.
  • Women now control 15 per cent of the 47 devolved units.

Women have snatched at least 15 more seats from the grip of men, increasing their share of elective positions in the just-concluded general election, an analysis by Nation.Africa shows.

While the women did not make it to at least a third of the positions as required by the constitutional rule that no one gender has two-thirds of elective and appointed positions, the increased number has been celebrated as a sign of big things to come.

The number of women elected to various positions in the August 9 polls has climbed up to 194 from 179 in 2017.

The number of women governors has doubled from three to seven. This means that women now control 15 per cent of the 47 devolved units.

Fatuma Achani (Kwale), Kawira Mwangaza (Meru), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Cecily Mbarire (Embu) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) have joined Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru at the helm of county governments.

Ms Anne Kananu (Nairobi) and Ms Charity Ngilu (Kitui) opted out of the August 9 poll.

The six head of counties were sworn in last week to serve their first term while Ms Waiguru is serving her second and final five-year term.

Bigger chance

Ms Waiguru is the first female governor to serve two terms consecutively.

A total of 22 women vied for governor seat in 16 out of 47 counties.

Having won in seven of the 47 counties, therefore, means women might have an even bigger chance if they cast their nets wider in even more counties.

The number of female deputy governors has also risen by one to eight compared to 2017.

They include Flora Chibule who is deputising Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro, Christine Saru Kilalo (Taita Taveta), Lucy Mumbua Mulili (Makueni), Rosemary Njeri Kirika (Kiambu), Bineah Philomenah Chebetibin (Trans Nzoia), Grace Jerutich Cheserek (Elgeyo Marakwet), Yulita Chebotip Mitei (Nandi) and Janepher Chemtai Mbatiany (Bungoma).

Another 52 female running mates were unsuccessful.

The National Assembly, on the other hand, will have six more elected women Members of Parliament (MPs) compared to the previous House.

Of 225 women who were vying for single constituency member seats in 152 constituencies, 29 were elected.

In the National Assembly, Nakuru County leads with four elected women MPs, followed by Homa Bay, Murang’a and Kitui counties with three members each. Kiambu, Makueni, and Uasin Gishu counties have each elected two women MPs; while Nairobi, Kisumu, Lamu, Narok, Nandi, Kilifi, Laikipia, Mombasa, Samburu, Nyandarua, and Busia have each one elected woman MP.

In Nakuru, those elected as single member constituency representatives are Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Irene Njoki (Bahati), and Jayne Kihara (Naivasha).

Njoro MP-elect Charity Kathambi of UDA celebrates with her husband, David Chepkwony at Njoro Boys Secondary School tallying centre, after retaining her seat, on August 11, 2022.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

In Homa Bay County, women MPs elected are Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe), and Millie Odhiambo (Suba North).

In Murang’a County, Alice Wahome (Kandara) and Maragua’s Mary Wamaua were re-elected.

In Kitui, Edith Nyenze (Kitui West) and Rachel Nyamai of Kitui South were re-elected too.

In Kiambu, former Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba was elected as Githunguri MP, while Thika Town’s Alice Ng’ang’a bounced back after losing to Patrick Wainaina in 2017.

In Makueni County, Jessica Mbalu of Kibwezi East was re-elected while Suzanne Ndunge Kiamba clinched the Makueni MP seat.

In Uasin Gishu County, Janet Rotich (Turbo) was re-elected while Phyllis Bartoo trounced two-term Silas Tiren to be crowned Moiben MP.

Other counties such as Nairobi (Beatrice Elachi, Dagoretti North), Kirinyaga (Mary Maingi, Mwea), Kisumu (Rosa Buyu, Kisumu West), Lamu (Ruweida Obo, Lamu East), Narok (Agnes Pareyio, Narok North), Nandi (Marianne Keitany, Aldai), Kilifi (Amina Mnyazi, Malindi), Laikipia (Sarah Korere, Laikipia North), Mombasa (Mishi Mboko, Likoni), Samburu (Naisula Lesuuda, Samburu West), Nyandarua (Wanjiku Muhia, Kipipiri) and Busia (Mary Emaase, Teso South) each have one elected woman MP.

Ms Wangari, Ms Odhiambo, Ms Elachi, Ms Buyu, Ms Korere, Ms Lesuuda, Ms Muhia had been nominated MPs before ascending to elective politics, further giving hope of women using the affirmative action slots to ascend to substantive slots as elected leaders.

Former Kisumu Woman Representative Rosa Buyu is the Kisumu West MP-elect.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Among the new entrants in the National Assembly are Amina Laura Mnyazi (Malindi), Mary Maingi (Mwea), Irene Njoki Mrembo (Bahati), Marianne Jebet Kitany (Aldai), Suzanne Kiamba (Makueni), former chairperson of the Anti- FGM Board Agnes Mantaine Pareyio (Narok North) and former Egerton University lecturer Prof Phyllis Jepkemoi Bartoo (Moiben).

Ms Mnyanzi is the second Malindi female MP after Ms Aisha Jumwa who unsuccessfully vied for Kilifi governor seat. She felled seven male contestants to emerge winner.

Ms Pareyio, 66, is the first woman in Narok County to win a parliamentary seat and she beat a strong field of six men to win the Narok North MP seat in a tightly contested race.

Ms Kiamba (Wiper) became the first elected woman MP for Makueni Constituency. She will take over from Mr Dan Maanzo who was elected Makueni senator.

Ms Njoki cut short the dream of veteran politician Kimani Ngunjiri to represent Bahati for uninterrupted three terms after garnering 34,308 votes against his 26,809.

Although Ms Ruweida Obo Mohammed served as Lamu County Woman Rep in the 12th Parliament, she has made history after becoming the first female MP for Lamu East Constituency.

Ms Ruweida is among the former County Woman Reps – a seat created for affirmative action – who went for other elective seats and won.

Constitutional requirement

Former county woman reps who dared to face men and won top seats include Ms Wanga and Ms Mwangaza.

In terms of political party strength, President-elect William Ruto’s UDA has the biggest number of women elected MPs at 13, while Orange Democratic Movement of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga follows with seven.

Jubilee Party has five, while Wiper and Kanu have three and one respectively.

All the women who ran for MP seat on independent tickets did not make it.

The National Assembly has, however, fallen short of at least 41 women MPs in order to meet the constitutional requirement on gender.

The Constitution provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of the elective or appointive positions should be of the same gender in Parliament.

The ghosts of the previous House, which was rocked with petitions seeking its dissolution could come back to haunt the 13th Parliament for being unconstitutionally constituted.

In September 2020, Chief Justice David Maraga, now retired, advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament in line with Article 261(7) of the Constitution, for its failure to enact law that would ensure that two third gender is achieved in both the Senate and National Assembly.

Of the 43 women who were contesting for senator seat in 26 counties, only three made it to the Senate – retaining the same number as 2017.

They are Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo), Tabitha Karanja (Nakuru) and Agnes Kavindu (Machakos).

Ms Karanja is a newcomer, while Ms Dulo and Ms Kavindu are serving for the second term.

Ms Kavindu joined the Senate for the first time in March 2021 following the death of her predecessor Boniface Kabaka.

Ms Dullo was among the three elected female senators in 2017 together with Ms Kihika and Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu).

Ms Kamar dropped her bid to defend her seat but has been nominated by Jubilee to join the Senate.

The Senate is comprised of 67 members – 47 elected and 20 nominated. It will meet the two-thirds gender rule if all 20 slots are given to women to make it 34 per cent. In the previous Senate, women were given 18 slots.

The number of women Member of County Assembly (MCAs) has also increased from 96 in 2017 to 100.

UDA has the highest number of elected female MCAs at 38 with the biggest share in Kiambu (6).

The party has three female MCAs in Murang’a, Uasin Gishu (3), Bungoma (2), Embu (2), Nyeri (2), Laikipia (2), Nairobi (2), and Nandi (2) while Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Kirinyaga, Mombasa, Nyandarua, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana and West Pokot have one each.

ODM has 31 elected female MCAs with the biggest number in Kisumu (6), Homa Bay (5), Mombasa (5), Kakamega (3), Siaya (3), Migori (2) while Busia, Kilifi, Kisii, Nairobi, Vihiga and Wajir has one each.

Among the elected MCAs who have made history is Priscilla Kurgat Jepkoech, the only elected MCA in the Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Ruth Kuya will also be the only female elected MCA in Turkana County Assembly after clinching Lodwar Township Ward.

In 2017, the electorates in Turkana County elected only one woman, Leah Nachere, as Lakezone Ward MCA.

In Kitui County Assembly, Judith Wanza will be the only elected female MCA. She was declared winner after defeating her closest competitor by 17 votes.

Former Isiolo County Tourism Executive Halima Abgudo has made history after becoming the first elected MCA in Isiolo County.

All Gusii counties – Kisii and Nyamira – have only one female MCA, Beatrice Makwae. Ms Makwae won the Bombaba Borabu Ward seat in Nyamira County after trying unsuccessfully since 2013.

The number of female elected MCAs in Nairobi County Assembly has dropped from five to four.

UDA's Waithera Chege was elected for a second term in Nairobi South ward, while UDA's Susan Makungu clinched the Mlango Kubwa Ward.

ODM's Rosemary Masitsa won the Makina Ward and Wiper's Scholastica Muthoni Mande won the Mukuru kwa Reuben Ward.

No female was elected in Lamu County after the only female MCA was defeated. Anab Hajji of Jubilee Party was the immediate former MCA for Hindi and was the only woman among the ten elected MCAs in the region, having been elected in 2017.

Nine women braced political parties’ waves in their regions to clinch MCA seats on independent ticket. They include Susan Akoth Onyango (Gwassi South, Homa Bay), Anne Chepkemoi (Silibwet Township, Bomet), Beatrice Phemmy Kanoti (Bwiri, Busia), Judith Wanza Musyoka (Nuu, Kitui), Grace Bahati (Kyeleni, Machakos) and Esther Auma Migose (Awendo, Migori.

Others are Sarah Rubety Keino (Kosirai, Nandi), Margaret Muthoni Kuruga (Kiganjo/Mathari, Nyeri) and Lysbeth Gatiria Mbae (Ganga, Tharaka Nithi).

Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation has welcomed the increased number of women leaders elected during this year’s general elections

The organisation’s chairperson Rahab Mwikali, says this achievement has been realised through many campaigns they have been spearheading countrywide.

“This time we have done very well, from three governors to seven, from 23 to 29 members of National Assembly. This is indeed a significant step,” she says.