Following the failure to enact a law to ensure at least one-third of women in parliament, female politicians call on women to mobilise and stand for election:
Women should contest elective positions rather than wait to be nominated to Parliament to effect the two-thirds gender rule, two women MPs have said. Marsabit woman representative Nasra Ibren and her Wajir counterpart Fatuma Ibrahim said after MPs rejected the gender bill recently, there is need to step up mobilisation at the grassroots for more women to join competitive politics.
They urged women not to shy away from contesting the governors’ seats, saying it is unacceptable in modern world for them not to vie for the seats. Fatuma accused male MPs of being scared of more women leaders in Parliament. “In the National Assembly, we have only 16 elected women MPs.
We want to ensure the number goes up to 200 MPs in next year’s general election,” Fatuma said. She is eyeing the Tarbaj parliamentary seat. Nasra said despite majority of voters being women, only a few make it to Parliament. The two spoke at the Moyale Referral Hospital.
Obstacles to women in parliament in Kenya include perceptions that men are better candidates and the money required for a campaign. The point is made that parliamentarians need to look to their own party practices as much as they are prepared to support gender equity laws.
Gender expert and women leader at Dialogue for Development Network Jackline Oduor says misconception that men are best suited for political offices is largely to blame for the scenario. “Women in Nyanza have always contested positions but it is the unfortunate misconception among voters that men are better candidates that has always worked against women in politics,” says Prof Oduor. “Party nomination and campaigns require money which most women do not have. Women may also not be very good at mobilising resources,” she says. Oduor who lectures at USIU says advocacy and voter sensitisation could change the equation. “Voters need to be educated to go for leadership and not focus on gender or how much money someone has,” she added. She says women should identify with political parties that believe in women leadership.