Venture out into top election races, Meru women urged

Public Service CS Margaret Kobia and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi during the unveiling of Meru Vision 2040 delivery board on February 26, 2021.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • In the parliamentary contests, only four out of nine constituencies have female aspirants. They are Tigania West, Tigania East, Igembe Central and Imenti North.
  • However, unlike in 2017, this time more women have declared their interest in ward representative seats.

Women in Meru have been urged to go for top political seats even as many shy away from politics.

The county had only two elected MCAs in the last general election, panting a grim picture of the quest for gender parity in elective politics.

Leaders from the devolved unit, led by Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia and Governor Kiraitu Murungi, want more female politicians nurtured to assume leadership roles. They spoke at the weekend during the Twaweza Women Leadership Conference at the Kenya Methodist University.

In the parliamentary contests, only four out of nine constituencies have female aspirants. They are Tigania West, Tigania East, Igembe Central and Imenti North. However, more women have declared their interest in ward representative seats.

North Imenti has the highest number of female aspirants, including Carol Karimi, who is the daughter of former MP Silas Muriuki; Halima Mucheke, a nominated MP; and Beatrice Karwitha, who also contested in 2017.

In Igembe Central, former Njia MCA Eunice Karema is going for the MP seat. Businesswoman Gakii Mbui is eyeing the Tigania West seat, while Tarsilla Kawiria is vying for Tigania East MP.

Rough game

Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza is among the top contenders seeking to wrest the governorship from incumbent Murungi, who said the Twaweza programme, spearheaded by his wife Priscilla, is aimed at increasing the visibility of women in leadership.

“However, the women should know that politics is a rough game and be prepared to be tough. You should also have networks to help you navigate the rough patches,” Mr Murungi said.

He said women who are joining politics should also have a war chest to handle campaign logistics.

“To be honest, if you do not have money, you will be dismissed. You must have money for operations and not necessarily be rich,” he said.

CS Kobia reiterated the government’s commitment to empowering more women to take up leadership positions.

“We might not be where we should in matters of gender equality but are not where we were decades back. This shows we can change the circumstances. For the aspirants, go on and do what it takes to clinch the political seats. All of us cannot be politicians, but we can be the best in the responsibilities we are given,” she said.

Changing mindset

Ms Priscilla Murungi said the Twaweza programme is intended to raise the confidence of women so that they can take up challenging leadership positions.

“Our biggest goal is to change the mindset of women that they can also be political leaders. In the process, we also empower them financially because financial independence is largely used in holding women back,” she said.

Njuri Ncheke secretary general Josphat Murangiri said the community had embraced women leaders and warned against dirty politics. He urged women to also assume posts in political party leadership where most political decisions are made.

Ms Kawiria, who is vying for Tigania East MP, expressed concern about pockets of veiled gender bias and urged more women to vie to debunk the fears.

“I am in the race to win. There are those who still hold the perception that a woman cannot be elected in Tigania but they will be in for a rude shock,” Ms Kawiria said.

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