Kenya has ratified enough international agreements to secure a more inclusive society. The question that begs anyway, is whether Kenya is on track to among others, equitable political representation for women. Statistics of the 2013 general election, paint a heart wrenching portrait of, particularly, women’s political landscape. In this article, I invite you to consider three weak links and afterwards, seek your opinion.
The 2013 national elections sought six elective posts. For all these, only one woman ran for the presidency out of 8 candidates and she failed; 19 out of 244 candidates and only 7 out of 237 vied to be senators and governors, respectively. A mere 16 out of 290 members of Parliament (MPs), 88 of 1490 ward reps secured a position. In percentages, this meant that only about 9.8%, 7% and 3% of parliamentary, senator and county assembly, and for governors, 0.00%. The decimals are for emphasis.
At the Coast, the outcomes were even weaker. For instance, in all the twenty six constituencies only one woman secured a Parliamentary seat; in the six counties (Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana-River, Lamu and Taita-Taveta) only 2 vied for and failed to secure the Governor’s position, more-less the 3 who vied and failed to secure Senatorship.
Several factors have been faulted for this, the usual one (a patriarchal culture, insecurity and financial constraints), the ignored (queuing too far, too long, too late) and the emerging (free posts).
Firstly, the notion that some people are men is to some extent true, naturally. Its a good thing. It becomes undesirable when it overtakes women and those that are seemingly less-men or too-women. Its worst when it discounts core values such as dialogue, decorum and the one I love most_ merit. Patriarchy makes voting feel like a KNEC exam, and talking of KNEC exams why the fuss about the low cheat count? If voting will not glorify good parenting or a care for my neighbor or even a savings culture, we can as well make it a weed-for-all party. Acts of violence during nominations or bribery against women candidates or ridiculing pro-feminist supporters are individually and collectively criminal acts. Punishable in court.
Voting for women is our moral obligation and this brings me to the other category of vices that our voting spirit must vanquish. Free maternal care in all public hospitals is the so far the greatest achievement of the IEBC. If you’re alive you get it. Voting in 2017 must take it a notch higher, more child-friendly spaces, free from heavy metals like Lead. Why lead, because studies show it can travel from a mom’s workplace via her milk to the child. Additionally, lead affects child development taking away more time meant for rallies, fund-raising and voter education for the mom. The cost of treating and managing lead poisoning exceeds that of owning land. Had all the families living in land owned by women, had they security of tenure, the ensuing stability would extinguish major ethnic clashes.
There aren’t free posts in 2017, not for women. I had just been to the market, window shopping for the holidays. Women made-up 99% of shoppers, the other one per cent were sellers and fewer, idle youths raising formations to sexually harass the shoppers. Then it hit me that Kenyan women are not stealing enough, you know, from public coffers. I’m sorry, a very attractive girl, the one in the mini-skirt, she’s robbed me… “Thief! How dare”, she catwalked to the dark alleys. This is wrong and traders mustn’t join alliances with idle men to prolong illicit thoughts. I trade my very own life in that ballot box and I would do it over and over again. But this I do for a life that will be lived more respectably. Today’s Kenyan woman is for those who can vie or vote.
In sum, it feels like I want to rant it all on the vote. If I can’t, then I shouldn’t trust the remainder of my life on KNEC results (were they really mine?), or broadcast maleficence (is that really the voice of the media?), or is it just imminent helplessness using lightening creams on coal?