The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Women's Fears Grow Over Poll Chaos

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
A barbershop burns in Nairobi's Mathare slum in post-election violence, December 31, 2007.

Women aspirants in Migori county have said lack of money, security and violence are some of the challenges they are facing in the campaigns.

During a one-day workshop organised by two local NGOs in Migori town, the aspirants said violence in polling stations and power sharing deals where they were excluded worry them the most ahead of Thursday's nomination.

"Women aspirants have been complaining about abuse and discrimination and the threat of physical violence during the campaign trail," said Betty Okero, CEO of Civil Society Organisation.

Okero said in the last one year her organisation has been working with women aspirants to help them build confidence and articulate their issues.

"We call on political parties to offer enough security during the primaries," said Okero. "This is the only way to encourage women and the elderly to turn up for the nominations."

Okero was speaking at Maranatha Hall in Migori town over the weekend. The workshop was attended by women aspirants vying all the elective positions.

Women's representative aspirant Gladys Ngere said the fear of violence among women politicians was real. She said she hoped the political parties will ensure that women politicians are protected from "violent youth".

"We have a problem where in male dominated politics there is a major fear of violence by youths paid to disrupt elections and call on party officials to offer adequate security during elections," the aspirant said.

Most aspirants said that the current talk of negotiated democracy and talk of direct nomination is set to offset them as they are not involved in the process.

"We believe that in all posts let the electorates choose the best candidate irrespective of their gender as negotiated democracy and direct nomination often locks out women from the table," Susan Owino, the county women Rep aspirant said.

Agnes Awinja the Awendo Constituency aspirants said that electorates in the county had taken issue politics a notch higher by accepting female aspirants and called on police and party officials to reciprocate the move by offering violence free and fair nominations.

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