Karua as Kenya’s deputy president could be Godsend

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

Azimio Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • If that sounds like a good way of making things better for the entire Kenyan women folk, that’s because it actually is.

Women are chameleons.

That has been our survival strategy for ages. It is the most practical way we know to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Our ability to adapt quickly has helped us survive, and sometimes thrive, in this world where we are often viewed through the sexist gaze as unequal and undeserving. And it is why I, and millions of other women around the country, rejoice that Martha Wangari Karua is the first Kenyan woman to be fronted for the deputy president position.

No matter your political alignment, it is hard to deny the momentous nature of Karua’s selection. A nation that has struggled for decades to implement the two-thirds gender rule and experienced a significant dearth of female political leaders, now looks to a woman standing at the near-pinnacle of our national governance.

Exciting? You bet! But what does her nomination mean to us in the sports realm, you ask. Well, nobody can say with confidence that this woman, Martha, was selected solely because of her gender, or her tribe.

Any Kenyan who has been alive for more than 25 years knows that Martha long rejected the safe chameleon strategy.

In all the public offices she has held, her true, strong self has radiated consistently. She is never shy to speak her mind, not even when her ideas are likely to rub someone important the wrong way. Women like me understand what a delicate dance this kind of revolution calls for.

Now, the elections are far from being won, but already Martha’s entry into the matrix is inspiring girls all over the country to believe that they can change the world.

Some of those inspired are sports personalities, and as she charts her own path amid the elevated scrutiny, one hopes that her influence will spread forth and reach the sports industry – one that is known for treating men and women differently.

Dear Martha, we hope that you will not nod along as female sports persons receive allowances that are lower than those pocketed by their male counterparts.

That you will intervene when you hear that the prize money for winning the league is insultingly lower than that which male teams receive. That you will do something about the fact that to date, female footballers are made to play in grassless, unsightly pitches that are so substandard their male counterparts are barred by the federation from playing on them.

Also, can we find a practical way of ending the abuse and killing of female runners by their coaches, agents and fellow athletes?

I know, I know, that Martha’s docket is meant to focus on justice and constitutional reforms, but hear me. Sports is an important way for boys and girls, men and women to compete constructively and this is key for their moral and physical education.

To access or even seek justice, a woman must first be well empowered and equipped with relevant knowledge.

Data from Women’s Sports Foundation shows that high school girls who play sports are more likely to get better grades in school, and enjoy higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, as well as lower levels of depression. 

If that sounds like a good way of making things better for the entire Kenyan women folk, that’s because it actually is.

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