Representation of women in legislature increases significantly

Nakuru Governor-elect Susan Kihika

Nakuru Governor-elect Susan Kihika gives her acceptance speech after she was declared the winner in the gubernatorial race on August 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Women’s representation in legislature will significantly increase in the upcoming government after a higher number of women were elected to various offices.

In the Tuesday General Election, seven governors, three senators and 29 single constituency members elected were women.

The first elections held under the promulgated constitution in 2013 saw no female governors in government.

It was only after the 2017 General Election that three women were elected as governors including the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet County), Charity Ngilu (Kitui County) and Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga County).

Fast forward to 2022, seven female governors from Kiriniyaga, Machakos, Kwale, Meru, Homa Bay and Embu counties have so far been elected. This is more than double the number of women governors elected in the previous elections.

Gladys Wanga, Governor-Elect for Homa Bay County, is the first female governor from Nyanza region.

She won the gubernatorial seat after beating her closest challenger, former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who was vying as an Independent

In Mt Kenya region, Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Cecily Mbarire (Embu) vying on UDA tickets have been elected as governors.

Ms Kawira Mwangaza (Meru), who contested as an independent, surprised many after she beat political giants Kiraitu Murungi and Mithika Lunturi and become the county's first female governor.

In Nakuru, Susan Kihika trounced the incumbent Lee Kinyanjui, while Wiper Party’s Wavinya Ndeti has been confirmed as the governor-elect in Machakos county.

In Kwale County, Fatuma Achani won the gubernatorial race becoming Coast region’s first female governor.

In the senatorial races, three women including Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja (Nakuru), Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) and Agnes Kavindu (Machakos) have been elected.

This figure is similar to the number of female senators in 2017. In the previous election, Susan Kihia (Nakuru County), Margaret Kamar (Uasin-Gishu) and Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) were the female Senators.

It's in the National Assembly, 29 single constituency female MPs were elected across 18 counties. This is an increase of 6 from 2017 when only 23 women were elected as MPs.

Nakuru County leads with four elected women MPs, followed by Homa Bay County with three elected members. Murang’a, Kitui, Kiambu, Makueni and Uasin Gishu Counties each have two elected women MPs.

In Nakuru, those elected as single member constituency representatives are Charity Kathambi – Njoro, Martha Wangari – Gilgil, Irene Njoki – Bahati, and Jayne Kihara- Naivasha.

In Homa Bay County, women MPs elected were Eve Obara - Kabondo Kasipul, Lilian Gogo – Rangwe, and Millie Odhiambo - Suba North. In Murang’a County, Ms Alice Wahome – Kandara and Maragua’s Mary Wamaua were re-elected.

In Kitui, Ms Edith Nyenze - Kitui West and Rachel Nyamai of Kitui South were re-elected.

In Kiambu, former Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba was elected as Githunguri MP, while Thika Town’s Alice Ng’ang’a bounced back after losing to Patrick Wainaina in 2017.

In Makueni County, Jessica Mbalu of Kibwezi East was re-elected while Ms Suzanne Ndunge Kiamba clinched the Makueni MP seat.

In Uasin Gishu County, Ms Janet Rotich of Turbo was re-elected while Phyllis Bartoo trounced two-term Silas Tiren to be crowned Moiben MP.

Other counties such as Nairobi (Beatrice Elachi ), Kirinyaga (Mary Maingi), Kisumu (Rosa Buyu ), Lamu (Ruweida Obo) , Narok (Agnes Parieyo) ,Nandi (Marianne Kitany ) , Kilifi (Amina Mnyazi), Laikipia (Sarah Korere), Mombasa (Mishi Mboko), Samburu (Naisula Lesuuda), Nyandarua (Wanjiku Muhia) and Busia (Mary Emaasse) each have one elected woman MP.

According to a statement from the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), over 11 counties have elected female Members of the County Assembly with Nakuru County leading with eight female legislators and Kisumu County with six female members.

NGEC Chairperson Dr Joyce Mutinda attributes the positive trajectory to affirmative action mechanisms within the constitution.

However, Dr Mutinda notes that the two-thirds gender principle will still not be realised in the 13th Parliament’s National Assembly and Senate.

“Even though the two-thirds gender rule will be realised after nominations (special seat members that ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender) in the county assemblies, the Commission believes the enactment of mechanisms to promote affirmative actions for women, youth and PWDs in the political spaces is the missing link in ensuring gender equality in the national assembly and senate,” part of NGEC’s statement reads.

For most women in Kenya, this year’s elections have been a step towards narrowing the political participation gender gap in elective politics.