Politics: Negotiated democracy threatening women’s leadership

Trans Nzoia Women Rep Janet Nangabo who has dropped out of the gubernatorial race, thanks to the negotiated democracy. She was to vie on a Democratic Action Party of Kenya ticket. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation media Group

What you need to know:

  • Pre-election agreements in which parties or community elders settle on particular individuals to support in the upcoming elections is locking out women from elective seats.
  • Soipan Tuya of Narok, Janet Nangabo of Trans Nzoia and Jane Nyaboke (Kisii)  have dropped out of the gubernatorial race thanks to the negotiated democracy.

Negotiated democracy is locking out women from elective seats.

This is a practice of pre-election agreements in which parties or community elders settle on particular individuals to support in the upcoming elections. Often, the list is drawn for all seats, from the top to the lowest.

So far, three women have dropped out of the gubernatorial race thanks to the negotiated democracy.

They include Soipan Tuya (United Democratic Alliance) of Narok and Janet Nangabo of Trans Nzoia (Democratic Action Party of Kenya) and Jane Nyaboke (Kisii) who was aspiring to run on ODM ticket.

This, however, defeats the push to have more women in political leadership.

Two-thirds threshold

In 2017, three women were elected governors out of the nine who vied. While only seven women became deputy governors including Yulita Mitei (Nandi), Fatuma Achani (Kwale) and Adelina Mwau (Makueni).

Others are Cecilia Mbuthia (Nyandarua), Evalyn Chepkirui (Narok), Susan Kikwai (Kericho) and Delina Mlagui (Taita Taveta).

Political parties will, however, have to comply with two-thirds threshold when submitting nomination lists to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Isiolo Gender Watch Executive Director Grace Lolim, says women are often the losers in negotiated democracy.

“For instance, here in Isiolo County, there was one woman (out of nine aspirants) eyeing (MCA) Member of County Assembly for Burati Ward. But Turkana elders decided to support a man,” she said in an interview last February.

But some parties are being intentional in supporting women.

ODM, for instance, has directly nominated Homa Bay Woman Representative to run for the county’s gubernatorial seat.

Last March, during a joint meeting by the UN Women and Canadian High Commission, the UN Women Kenya country representative said the agency is engaging with the political parties to ensure they adhere to the two-thirds gender principle.

United Nations resident coordinator in Kenya Stephen Jackson, then said: “Achieving gender equality will take men’s leadership supporting women leaders.”

He said women’s equality and empowerment is not just one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but the foundation of all the other SDGs.

“You can’t get to any of the SDGs without passing through SDG five. It is simply impossible,” he said during the meeting held at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence in Nairobi.

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