Young Women, ready for Political Race??

Grace Mbugua (left), Charity Ngilu (in white)

Young Women,  Ready for Political Race??

Women at the Bomas of Kenya.

As women, we continue to call ourselves marginalized, but the truth is, women are to blame for such a sad state of reality. We are on the race for 2012 elections, (if it happens this year) but the truth is very few young women have devoted themselves to run this race.

Attending the launch of the Kenya Women’s National Charter, aimed at promoting the rights of Women two weeks ago, if the women in attendance is anything to go by, it is evident that we will still have older generation in the next Parliament in Kenya.

Walking around looking for young women ready to take the initiative, I realized many of them were volunteers and ushers taking part in the two days event held at the Bomas of Kenya, who were probably not interested in the political race.  Feeling a bit disturbed by this reality, I decided to engage some women into a discussion (aged between 42 to 53) and they had a very interesting views as I tried to find out why were the young women missing.

Women at the launch

“We, the older women are not ready to give the mantle to young girls like you, (pointing at me). You should be at home taking care of your families. You know at this age, I am ready to take the challenge, I have the time, my children are all grown up and living away on their own.” Said an aspiring woman vying as a Member of Parliament at the Narok County.

That alone was not convincing for me. If you ask me, young women aged 30 years and below versus women of 50 years plus, these two will clash as a result of generation gap. I found it so hard to try to strike a conversation with these women as most of them emphasized on the fact that they are in a better position to take up leadership positions than young women.

“What do you think you can teach us? We are more experienced in life matters, we have been through a lot and we know exactly what this country needs. Kenya needs women like us, we have the ability to make a great change in this country,” Remarked Fatma Suleiman aspiring Member of Parliament from Tana River County.

Water Minister Charity Ngilu

Women Representation

In the 2007 General elections, out of the 2, 548 parliamentary aspirants, only 269 were women and only one out of the 9 presidential candidates was a woman.  Many women did not make it to leadership positions which meant that only 22 women made it to parliament, against 200 male politicians. Only six of these 22 women hold cabinet positions.

While the New Constitution provides for 47 special legislative seats for women, the challenge is to get women vying for leadership positions. For a long time there has been a myth that many women shy away from vying for such positions because they do not consider themselves qualified to compete against men.

Journalists with Charity Ngilu

Minister for Gender Naomi Shabaan, who was among the dignitaries gracing the occasion, challenged women to look up to countries like Norway, Sweden and other European countries where there has been a successful liberation for women’s rights.

“Women have come a long way to be where they are today, this is not the end. We have to prove ourselves fit for the challenge.” She added.

The Women’s charter with 18 articles stipulates the provisions of each article and warns against the non-compliance with the non-discrimination constitutional provision specifically those under Article 27 of the Constitution.

Women’s Empowerment Link

Women Leaders at the Launch

The Charter which was distributed to the hundreds of women from all the counties, was developed by “Mwamko Mpya:Uongozi Mpya consultant Professor Maria Nzomo through the initiative of Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL).

“We can only be counted if we stand up and prove that we are countable,” advised Prof. Maria Nzomo who asserted to the fact that women continue to be marginalized in various areas in life and this can only be corrected if women took charge and one area of doing so is in politics.

WEL Director Grace Mbugua said it was not enough to have the constitution secure seats for the women, women too need to come out in huge numbers and support each other, correct each other and plan together. She commended women for showing such a great solidarity and said she was optimistic that in the next Parliament there will be more women ready for leadership roles.

Charity Ngilu leaves Bomas of Kenya

The role of the media especially during this campaign period was something that was discussed at large. Women were cautioned against shying away from cameras and journalists who will be streaming in, in large numbers gathering stories from all over the counties.

“Know your media contacts well; know when to ask media people to cover your story. Not all stories are newsworthy, so make sure you have substance in your press release. Make it relevant,” advised Macharia Gaitho, a columnist at the Nation Media Group.

Use of Social Media

The issue of using of social media as campaign to gather voters was also a great topic under discussion. However, there was an obvious challenge. Having noticed that most women attending this conference were older women, I asked the obvious. Do these women know or even use social media platforms like the popular Twitter and  Facebook?

Women at Bomas of Kenya

Your guess is as good as mine. Most of these women have only heard from some youngsters around mention these sites but they have no clue on what they entail. The good thing is that many were willing to learn and actually promised to take it upon themselves to learn how to use social media as a campaign tool. Many talked of the possibilities of looking for experts in social media to help them set up their accounts, which they are ready to manage.

Prof. Maria Nzomo (left) and Charity Ngilu

The launched Charter expresses the fact the women are still discriminated and marginalized in politics, economy, society, culture, religion, as workers, and as mothers of the current and future generations. “There are differences, but still there are compelling similarities and we can learn from each other. Men are still earning more money for the same jobs as women do,” remarked Prof. Nzomo.

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2 thoughts on “Young Women, ready for Political Race??

  1. the new constitution has unjustifiably given 47 free parliamentary seats to women, and so an average person like me would think that an average woman would be glad and satisfied, but it appears it aint so! they still want more free things. and so, unfortunately for the young under 30 ladies, there is no room for further freebies, and since the constitutions says you are not only the weaker sex but also the weakest in politics, and hence you are no match for the average man in politics, you’ll have to fight with women , older, and abler in practice than you. and there and then, you’ll realize, quite late, that there is no free ride and joy ride in the process. its akin to the Tragedy of the Commons. there will be less sympathy for the losers in the Women-vs-Women contest and more sympsthy for the lady who loses in an open contest involving men. and so for the young ladies under 30, either way, there will be no shortcut, and the marathon will still be 42.3 kilometers long, you better start, practise for the long road ahead!

  2. Hi Patience,
    An interesting take on this topic….why do you think this is so? did you get a chance to speak to any of the young female volunteers and see if they wud be interested in politics? bcos i think u raised a really good point that women marginalise each other…but if u speak to those in power (whether it be men, the rich etc), they will always justify their position to be there..just like the women u interviewed said..so i always say go to the marginalised, which in this case is young women, and hear what they have to say..and why they are not interested in politics etc? this would be a very interesting article as this would engage with the young women. At the same time, you might find out something else in the process, something you never even imagined.

    Cheers,

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