Kenyans, When will we be ready?

Women at a women’s seminar

This is one of those topics I am deeply sentimental about. Talk of women empowerment verses male chauvinism or male domination; whatever you may call it really drives up my emotion.

One of the on-going debates in Kenya today is centered on the realization of the “not more 2/3rds gender rule” set out in the new constitution.  The rule requires that not more than two thirds of elective seats are held by leaders of the same gender. This means that in the next Parliament, there must be at least 117 women MPs. Now, this is music to my ears. However, it has been a source of stalemate with divided groups supporting and opposing the gender rule.

Seeking a temporary solution

 As it is now, Kenya’s Attorney General, Githu Muigai who is the Government’s chief legal adviser has now decided to seek a temporary solution to the stalemate occasioned by this constitutional requirement.

Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai

Many would ask, so what is the debate concerning this provision?

I feel I know where the problem is, Kenyans do not believe in women leadership and that is why there is a problem achieving this rule. I strongly agree with one David Makali, a long term serving journalist and political analyst when he said in an interview, “There is a good crop of female presidential candidates, but I am pessimistic about a woman presidency just yet. There are too many forces against them.”

While he has his own doubts concerning female leadership, he does not believe in youth leadership either;  “The youth are not reliable and will not be a defining factor in the forthcoming elections. I do not think they can cause much change even if they took office.”

Women follow the discussion on gender rule

I recently posted this on my facebook page (It is time we voted for a woman president in Kenya. This is the only way we can make a change in this country) and going by the feedback I received, I think we are far from embracing women leadership. In a nut shell, this is what it says, that Kenya is neither ready for a woman president nor any other woman leader for that matter. But why is this the case? When will we be ready? What do we need for us to be ready? I have a strong feeling this is a wise change that we all seem to be resisting.

 “Surprisingly America is not too there even after over 200 years of independency. We have no single woman who has fought a good fight to bit this course. When will it be, I still do not know.” Remarked a Kenyan responding to my facebook posting.

Seeing beyond the impossibilities

Mombasa residents attending a civic education

This is what I offered as my reply: “You may need to change your thinking and see beyond the impossibilities. There are other countries that have had women Presidents and these too, looked beyond your reasoning! Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the President of Liberia, an African country because Liberia believed in her!”

Still not convinced by my sentiments, he wrote back: “Patience, not in Kenya.”

But what makes Kenya different from Liberia?

He blames Kenyan politics and politicians. From his explanation, I deduce this: That male chauvinism dominates our thinking as a country and this is the reason we cannot have our current legislatures support the amendment of the bill concerning the gender rule stalemate. Because of this, we will always remain where we are and keep complaining of all the vices that face us as a nation!

Women celebrate at the launch of Women s National Charter

Change is important for this country to move forward! I’m convinced beyond doubt that a woman president is all we need now!

Change is vital

Albert Einstein said, “Doing the same thing and expecting different results in insanity.” In a few months, we celebrate Kenyan Jubilee; 50 years of independence. For 50 years, we have had a male presidents, so why can’t we believe that we can usher in a new era with different leadership in all areas, starting with the top boss?

Samuel Macharia thinks it has nothing to do with gender. “I don’t think it’s about ones gender, it’s all about leadership. I wouldn’t vote for anyone based on their gender, male or female. There are women who are great leaders not because they are women but because they are leaders. That said I think the way forward in this nation is for us to recognize the power that the constitution has vested on the people and for us to arise and ensure that all the institutions are functioning as they are expected.”

Charity Ngilu(in white)after the launch of the Women’s Charter

I am looking forward to seeing what the next general election teaches us. There are myths that need to be broken. Top on this list, is the myth that women cannot make good leaders; they can only be good as deputies. The other myth is that women are their own enemies hence they cannot vote for one another. That women sabotage each other in all areas and that many women who want to take leadership positions in Kenya are divorcees and people who do not uphold family values. Some people argue that many women lack the X factor that cannot be explained, but one that is necessary for leadership or that women have too much on their plates, hence cannot take up key roles such as the presidency.

A friend based in Norway, which is one of the model countries that has managed to ensure that equality prevails in almost all areas of their governance wrote this in reply to what Kenyans wrote concerning my post on facebook.

“I find this strange that Kenyans do not believe in women leadership. Could you point out all the female leaders that have been around the world until now -makes it a bit strange that Kenya is not ready for a female leader. I feel that it makes Kenyans seem defensive and old fashioned, not innovative and not inventive at all which I think is important for a country to improve and develop.”

Women follow proceedings on gender rule

At this point I rest my case. For those who had no idea that there are a number of women who have taken leadership positions and excelled, this is an important link to follow. Women Prime Ministers and Presidents: 20th Century

All we need now is a paradigm shift; to change our thinking and believe that change from the status quo is actually possible.

 “Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” – Gail Blanke


5 thoughts on “Kenyans, When will we be ready?

  1. I want facts and reasons why Kenyan women like Orie Rogo Manduli, Charity Ngilu, Rachel Shebesh, Njoki Ndungu, Martha Karua and Patience Nyange deserve special treatment in this constitution?
    I thought affirmative action was for village women to be empowered politically, socially and economically. These gains have been taken away from them by well educated town women who can as well stand and fight like any other man in Kenya. Infact, we have worse placed men in Nyeri who need affirmative action from the bondage of their violent wives!!!

    1. Ommotto, you need to get it clear that women play a key role in this country. They socialize their children, they nurture their and act as their models. These men that run for these elective posts and think that women cannot run this nation, they need to be reminded that they are who they are because their MOTHERS did a great job. We cannot overlook the role played by women in Kenya.

      Ommotto, lets just make a sample case study this time round and elect a woman president and see if we change this country!

  2. I am against this idea of “lets just for a woman because she is a woman”. I believe women are able to stand and claim what belongs to them. Americans did not have to vote for Obama “because he is black and married to a black woman”. He had to stand on the same podium with both powerful men and women to sell his idea of change (yes we can). Now, can you tell these women to stand at Uhuru Park alongside other men and persuade Kenyans to vote for them as president. Why are they so scared of scrutiny? Why are they using the constitution to gain unfair advantage over male competitors? Women must prove that they can rise above politics of nominated mp and women representative in counties. They should prove that they have the tough skin for state house politics. Can the women presidential candidates now stand up with their husbands (mpangos/fungas) and children and hit the campaign trail? We are watching keenly.

    1. Ommotto, the truth is, many women who have declared their interest to stand, the first people who oppose them are the men, their husbands, (mpango/funga) as you call them.

      Listen to this and this is a true story as narrated to me by this woman. She has all plans to vie as an MP, but the husband decides to ask her to step down and support him instead. He explains that he has more chances of winning as compared to his wife, since many people believe in men than women. Do you get this?

      Just like David Makali said, women just have too many forces against them. Whether we agree to this or not, this is the truth. But I am optimistic, we will get there one day one time!

  3. dear patience… surprised you a latter-day recruit of the male bashing club this early, the club whose membership strongly believes that men are the source of all the challenges women face, and that all limitations that women get in their upward mobility is as a result of a certain male somewhere! really Patience? you make my heart miss a beat. “That male chauvinism dominates our thinking as a country and this is the reason we cannot have our current legislature support the amendment of the bill concerning the gender rule” what do you mean by that?
    it is not that the women in Kenya are the minority that should deserve special attention, or special legislation? census 2009 showed that women are 51% of the total population in Kenya , and so it follows that if women cannot get elected to political office, they should blame their own gender for not standing up for them enough….i still hold it patience that women are jealousy of other women success, and that is the reason few will vote for fellow women,….but me am ready to vote for you if you stood for election as women representative of Taita Taveta county or president…….

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