The world is changing. Power dynamics are shifting. How many times have we been subjected to listening to heart-wrenching speeches by overly enthusiastic political leaders belting out promises of a gender-balanced National Assembly?
We have watched on the sidelines with bated breath as male-dominated delegations made policies and passed laws about issues affecting women, sometimes with no women in attendance.
Victory has been celebrated by politicians that disguise their selfish agendas as progressiveness. In doing so, they have won the favor of non-suspecting women. They have delivered these pronouncements with an air of ‘doing the women a favour.’
Do not for a moment be deceived into believing that we have achieved gender equality. Only the surface has been grazed. That being said, there is some great news. We have started the journey towards achieving political gender equality. Only just started.
Women dominating Kenya’s political scene
World over, the political scene is viewed by many as a very dangerous, demanding and male-dominated scene. Others, unfortunately, see it as ‘no place for women.’
According to the World Bank Organization, women in Kenya comprised at least 50.3% of the country’s total population in the year 2016. It is most certainly ridiculous to have the lesser population of men sit around a table and make decisions that affect this much of a population without having a respectable representation from it.
Perhaps this was why Kenya’s constitution was amended in August 2010, providing that no more than two-thirds of any appointed or elected body can be of the same gender.
Kenya’s latest constitution attempts to create a gender balance through the provision that Kenya’s 47 counties elect a women’s representative. It also prohibits all forms of language that proves discriminatory against women. It further provides for the protection of women’s rights in matters relating to divorce, land, and property.
Making waves across kenya’s political scene right now is one woman’s name. She is Farida Karoney. According to The Star, “Ms. Farida Karoney became Kenya’s fifth trending item on Google following her nomination to the position of Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Lands.” She was nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 26th January 2018.
Using her stellar experience as a veteran journalist, Ms Karoney, on the 8th of February, assured the National Assembly Appointments Committee that she has what it takes to rid the Lands Ministry of cartels that have for years marred services at Ardhi House.
If Kenya’s netizens speculations are anything to go by, then indeed the weight of Farida Karoney’s words in her assurances must have sent waves on Kenya’s political scene. This is because in just less than a week since she made these declarations, President Uhuru has transferred State Department of Housing and Urban Development from Lands to Transport and Infrastructure Ministry.
This turn of events has led netizens to speculate whether Ms. Karoney’s stance on ridding the ministry of cartels might have anything to do with this.
Dr Joyce Laboso
Dr Laboso is among the three women that proved indestructible in the 2017 elections. It was a year that brought a new revolution to Kenya’s politics. Joyce Laboso, together with two other female politicians Anne Waiguru and Charity Ngilu became governors after beating some very seasoned male politicians. Their achievement made political history because it was the first time that women became governors in Kenya.
Before this, all of Kenya’s 47 counties had been governed by men. Dr. Laboso became the second Governor of Bomet County after beating Isaac Ruto in the August elections. She is the former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya.
Anne Mumbi Waiguru became Governor of Kirinyaga County in Kenya on the 22nd of August, 2017. She previously served as the first Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning after a nomination by President Kenyatta. She is well known and respected in the political arena for being behind the establishment of Huduma Centres, places that allows Kenyans access to government services efficiently. She also pioneered government’s 30% procurement rule which accords at least 30 percent of all supply contracts to the government to the youth, persons with disability and women.
Ms. Mumbi’s committed reforms in matters relating to maternal health, youths and women have made her a political force to be reckoned with in Kenya.
Charity Kaluki Ngilu is the second governor elected for Kitui County. She has a steady political career that spans from the time she served as Minister of Health from 2003 until 2007 and later as Minister of Water and Irrigation from April 2008 to 2013.
Ngilu has also served as Cabinet Secretary for Land, Housing and Urban Development from 2013 to 2015. She has recently been in the news for her stoic stance on the charcoal and sand harvesting ban which was passed by the county assembly following public outcry over the wanton environmental ruin the two practices have caused.
These are only but a few examples of women in Kenya that have refused to stand on the sidelines watching men make decisions that affect them and the nation. They have time and time again demonstrated their commitment to driving positive change. We can only hope that many more women will rise to the challenge by adding their valuable contributions towards the development of the country and Africa as a whole.