Pwani female hopefuls missing in action as election campaigns hot up

Political analyst Naomi Cidi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Only few female politicians, most of whom currently hold political seats, are engaging in early campaigns and organising meet-the-people tours.
  • This is in contrast to their male counterparts, who are traversing the region looking for votes.

Although the official campaign period for the August 9 General Election has yet to begin as per the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) communication, aspirants across the country have already gone flat out to popularise their bids.

However, at the Coast, the presence of female hopefuls, including those eyeing woman representative posts, has been missing. This is in contrast to their male counterparts, who are traversing the region looking for votes.

Only a few female politicians, most of whom currently hold political seats, are engaging in early campaigns and organising meet-the-people tours. This lot is not following influential politicians to their rallies to get a platform to speak to the electorate.

Political observers say those who have started early campaigns hold senior government positions, political offices or are highly placed in the private sector, thus have the financial muscle to sustain their interaction with the people.

Financial hurdles

Ms Maimuna Mwidau, a political analyst, says lack of financial resources is one of the major hurdles standing in women’s way.

“When you want to start campaigns, everything requires money, political meetings need money. How many women have money?” says Ms Mwidau.

She further says most women lack the ability to speak in public and are not vocal on many issues, hence only a few of them venture out into early campaigns.

Ms Mwidau also blames cultural and religious biases, as well as political violence, for the near absence of women in early campaigns.

“The environment upon which politics is conducted is also affecting women. Society uses a patriarchal system where men are placed at the forefront, with few embracing matriarchal systems,” says Ms Mwidau.

But another political analyst, Naomi Cidi, says many female aspirants are waiting for the official campaign period to begin before they start organising and convening their own rallies.

Ms Cidi says lack of money also hampers their plans for early campaigns, adding that most of them have no financial resources to sustain them until election day on August 9.

She further says delaying campaigns is a political strategy some women use to allow their political rivals to wear out before the official campaigns begin. Others are law-abiding, hence the reason they are not engaging in early campaigns before the official period, she adds.

Tagging along

For her part, Mombasa Woman Representative hopeful Amina Abdallah says it has been a habit for many women in the region not to organise and conduct their own rallies but instead wait for other politicians to hold theirs and tag them along.

“I am pleading with my fellow women to stop tagging along other people’s political rallies and instead organise their own,” says Ms Abdallah. She is one of those who are already campaigning.

Ms Abdallah says politics is not easy for women as insecurity and lack of money are some of the challenges they face. She wants women to join hands with those in their parties to conduct joint campaigns after nominations.

“It is okay for women to join hands with other politicians, but before that, they should individually campaign for themselves and convince the electorate that they are better than their competitors,” says Ms Abdallah.

Patriarchy

For Prof Halimu Shauri of Pwani University, society has perpetuated patriarchy “in favour of the boy child”, an issue that has manifested itself in all spheres, including politics. He says female aspirants are products of a strong patriarchal system that oppresses them. He says the bias in favour of men is what makes women lack financial resources to hold campaigns, hence the reason many of them take time before going out to campaign.

He attributes the problem to cases where many female politicians are forced to depend or tag along renowned politicians in their campaigns to be able to campaign.

“You will continue to see women in politics taking time to come out and engage in political campaigns until that time when campaigns to promote a girl child matures,” says Prof Shauri.

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