Re-election of women a resounding show of trust in their leadership

Elected women leaders

From left: Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti, Senator Agnes Kavindu Muthama and Woman Rep Joyce Kamene when they were declared winners at Machakos Academy on August 13, 2022.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The clamour for gender balance in the leadership is paying dividends, courtesy of the voters.
  • Ukambani has continuously elected women in various positions since veteran politician Nyiva Mwendwa, the first female Cabinet minister, entered the political scene as Kitui West MP.


The impressive number of women who successfully defended their seats in the August General Election, is without doubt a definite confidence in the leadership of women in Kenya.

A number of female legislators retained their seats in the highly competitive mixed-gender National Assembly races, to prove that they are not only a force to reckon with. And with other factors such as party loyalty and allegiance considered, they have garnered their people’s confidence.

The election, compared to the 2017 one, saw a rise of about 30 per cent of the female constituency MPs in addition to the more than double increase of that of governors. There was also a notable number elected as Members of County Assemblies (MCAs).

It is the remarkable re-election of women MPs however, that sends out the message that Kenyan voters are progressively embracing women’s leadership. This confidence in women’s ability to lead politically is not just a win for the voter, but also for the country’s democracy.

Dividends

It is an indication that the clamour for gender balance in the leadership is paying dividends, courtesy of the people. This now behoves the nation, through the national and county governments, as well as relevant institutions such as Parliament, to cultivate on the determinations of the people to ensure women representation in all decision-making positions for balanced gender representation.

The 13th Parliament will evidently be the first institution to watch. It has to lead in entrenching the culture of gender balance by enacting and ensuring implementation of the law on equality and equity. In particular, the nation expects MPs to implement the constitutional provisions for the two-thirds requirement, which has been pending in that institution since 2013 (and before!) when the country began implementing the 2010 Constitution.

There is a ray of hope in as far as implementation of the elusive gender provisions is concerned, going by the proclamation of President William Ruto, whose administration has promised to actualise the two-thirds gender rule in its first three months of office. Lack of political goodwill is the key ingredient that has been missing.

In the meantime, the voter has led the way in not only bringing an upsurge of women leaders but also re-electing others to continue serving. In some constituencies such as Rangwe in Homa Bay, Dr Lillian Gogo has made double history as the first elected female MP and the only legislator to be re-elected since 1992. Clearly, the constituents have resonated with her leadership and vice versa.

In the same county, it was a resounding confidence for lawyer Millie Odhiambo (ODM), who was re-elected to serve her third consecutive term as Suba North MP. The trend was the same in Samburu West where Jubilee’s youthful Naisula Lesuuda was handed a second term in a society that is generally conservative and where patriarchy is deeply rooted.

Sarah Korere, who hails from a similarly conservative background, weathered the odds to win a second term in Laikipia North (Jubilee). Other women MPs re-elected include United Democratic Alliance (UDA)’s Alice Wahome (Kandara), Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Mary Wamaua (Maragua) and Janet Sitienei (Turbo).

The others are ODM’s Eva Obara (Kabondo Kasipul), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Wiper’s Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) and Edith Nyenze (Kitui West) and Jubilee’s Rachael Nyamai of Kitui South.

There were also women MPs who made it to Parliament after a stint in the cold, while others, such as Ruweida Mohamed Obo of Lamu East (Jubilee) and Gathoni wa Muchomba (Githunguri), were first elected as woman reps in 2017 and successfully switched to constituency representation.

Domino effect

The re-election of the female MPs and other spaces, follows a pattern. Where a woman is first elected and the constituency gives her leadership a thumbs up, indications are that the people in the area follow suit to elect another or more women.

In Murang’a, for instance, Ms Wahome paved the way as the first female MP in 2013, and that saw two constituencies—Maragua and Kigumo—follow suit in electing women MPs.

Ukambani has continuously elected women in various positions since veteran politician Nyiva Mwendwa, the first female Cabinet minister, entered the political scene as Kitui West MP. Charity Ngilu followed suit from 1992 as Kitui Central MP and eventually governor for Kitui in 2017.

From the neighbouring Kibwezi, another formidable female politician, Agnes Ndetei, arose but fell by the wayside in 1997, after losing the Kibwezi parliamentary seat. Since then, the region has produced strong female politicians such as Ms Mbalu, Ms Nyamai, and Ms Nyenze who have been re-elected.

To cap it all, Machakos, in the same region, elected an all-women crew at the top, from governorship held by former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti, Senator Agnes Kavindu, Woman Rep Joyce Kamene (re-elected) and Assembly Speaker Anne Kiusya, who succeeded Florence Mwangangi.

Machakos and Nakuru lead counties with women at the top slots.


Ms Rugene, a founder Nation parliamentary editor is founder, the Woman’s Newsroom [email protected]

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.