Why 2022 woman rep contests got little attention

Ballot boxes in a past general election.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In Luo Nyanza, in particular, much political focus has been put on the gubernatorial race where political giants are battling it out to control county resources.
  • In Siaya, all eyes are on the race between Senator James Orengo and Nicholas Gumbo.


Woman representative seat, despite being established to increase the representation of women in Parliament, has not received much attention in the ongoing campaigns.

Unlike the parliamentary and governor seats, the woman rep position, created by the 2010 Constitution, is a political career that is no longer admired by many female politicians.

Candidates seeking the seat have put on low-profile campaigns that do not receive national attention.

In Luo Nyanza, in particular, much political focus has been put on the gubernatorial race where political giants are battling it out to control county resources.

In Siaya, all eyes are on the race between Senator James Orengo and Nicholas Gumbo.

Voters are also keenly following political contests at the parliamentary level to see whether incumbent MPs like Alego Usonga’s Samuel Atandi, or his Ugunja counterpart Opiyo Wandayi, will retain their seats.

Very few people talk about Dr Christine Ombaka, who is defending her position for a third term as Siaya woman rep. She is the only one from the lake region who is still interested in the same seat, 10 years after being elected.

Her counterparts in Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay stepped out to seek other positions, with Kisumu's Roza Buyu and Migori’s Pamela Odhiambo having served for only one term.

In Kisumu, the contest between Ruth Odinga and Valentine Atieno for the woman rep seat has been watered down by the governor contest between Prof Anyang' Nyong'o and his predecessor Jack Ranguma.

The same situation is in Homa Bay where the battle between Woman Rep Gladys Wanga and former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero is more widespread than that of Mauline Marucha and Joyce Osogo.

Similarly, voters in Migori are familiar with the race between Ochilo Ayacko and John Pesa, who are the top gubernatorial candidates, more than that of Helen Obado and Denitah Ghatti who are competing for the woman rep seat.

Walter Opiyo, a political observer in Homa Bay, says the perception that woman reps get less funding from the government is the main reason why less attention has been put into it, as voters are keenly looking at how their governors have spent and how candidates plan to spend if elected.

Woman reps have an allocation of Sh7 million Affirmative Action Fund for every constituency. It means counties with fewer constituencies get less funds than those with more constituencies.

Mr Opiyo says politicians are attracted to positions where they control a lot of money, possibly for personal benefits.

"No one would go for a political seat that has less funding. Every politician in the country right now wants to control large sums of money so that they can engage in corruption."

This has switched the minds of voters from familiarising themselves with all six candidates they should vote for. Mr Opiyo adds that most female politicians vie for the seat to catapult them to other positions.An example is Dr Odhiambo, who, after serving as woman rep for five years, sought the governor seat. She lost at the ODM primaries and has since gone silent.

However, some politicians still consider the seat as equally important.


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