The Star (Nairobi)

19 January 2013

Kenya: Trans Nzoia Women in Politics

The number of women who have shown interest in elective seats inTrans Nzoia county has increased compared to previous general elections.

Political experts attribute the increase to the new constitution which has created more elective positions for women.However, despite the new entrants, most of those giving it a try for the second or third time never succeeded in past elections.

In the history of Trans Nzoia, all seats have been won by men. Women have only been lucky to be nominated as councilors. Most women politicians are, however, interested in women representative.

Women who were nominated in the 2007 general election to serve as councilors are Janet Nangabo, Nancy Imali, Florence Sigei and Bilha Kipcho.

The four were nominated by Ford Kenya, the party that has been popular in the area.Nangabo has, however, ditched Ford Kenya for New Ford Kenya on whose ticket she will vie for women representative.

Only former Maendeleo ya Wanawake chair Zipporah Kittony has served in the highest rank as a Kanu nominated MP in the past. Kittony, now a UN eminent person, is however, not contesting any political seat in the March 4 polls.

Fredrick Tanui, a political analyst, says culture, propaganda from men and lack of finance has discouraged women from competing with men for elective seats.

"If propaganda is about women, it spreads faster compared to that against men. This is one of the reasons why women are shying away from other elective seats," Tanui said.

"Ladies are also not daring enough. They fear that this may hinder them from being elected," he said.Tanui, however, said that the voters in the area are likely to base their voting on party and ethnic background.

Only three women have shown interest in the other elective seats, one for governor while eight will be battling for women representative.

Jane Wamboi is contesting for governor while former NGO council chair, Orie Rogo Manduli is vying for senator. Jennifer Masis is the only woman vying for MP in Endebess constituency.

Those who will contest for women representative are former Nzoia County Council clerk Elizabeth Nyongesa(Ford Kenya), Kitale Municipal Council nominated councilor Janet Nangabo(NFK), former Kenya Seed director Justine Siti(NFK) and Maendeleo ya Wanawake treasurer Naomi Okul(TNA).

Others are Gladys Mulati (ODM), Christine Tangule (Narc Kenya), Dorothy Cherop (URP) and Eunice Karanja (TNA). Masis will be contesting for the fourth time after failing to be elected as Kwanza MP in past elections.

Endebess constituency was hived off Kwanza constituency which has been represented by Dr Noah Wekesa for almost two decades.

Justine Siti is not new to Trans Nzoia politics. She unsuccessfully battled with the late Vice President Michael Wamalwa for the Saboti parliamentary seat in 1997.

She tried her luck in 2002 but did not make it. In 2007 she supported Eugene Wamalwa who won the seat. Kenneth Ochieng, Women Political Alliance coordinator says, there will be a constitutional crisis if there will be less than one third gender representation of either gender in Parliament. "According to the constitution, there should be no more than two thirds gender representation of one gender in Parliament," Ochieng said.

However, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the gender rule representation should be implemented by 2015. Ochieng urged church leaders, human rights crusaders, heads of institutions, community based organisations and the media to sensitise women to go for elective seats.

Elizabeth Nyongesa -Ford Kenya

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Nairobi. Nyongesa has served as an accountant and treasurer at Vihiga County Council before being promoted to work as the clerk at Kitale Municipality and Nzoia County Council. She entered politics for the first time in 2007 but lost in nominations to Eugene Wamalwa.

If elected, Nyongesa says she will persuade and support all girls who dropped out of school to go back. She plans to establish Trans Nzoia Women Development Fund to help women engage in "Kilimo Biashara". "This will boost the economy of women especially if we get the best governor who can organise for grants to women," she said.

Justine Siti- New Ford Kenya

The 60 year old former primary school teacher and immediate former Kenya Seed director is counting on teachers to vote for her. She first entered politics in 1997 and was defeated by the late Vice President Michael Wamalwa as Saboti MP. Her efforts to clinch the seat in 2002 were also unsuccessful.

She has been sponsoring a teachers' and students exchange programme for a United Kingdom education exchange programme. She has promised to establish a bursary kitty for bright but needy students.

"Education is indispensable to development. Alongside education, I will use my wide experience to enhance agribusiness," she said. She has also promised to focus on reviving collapsed tea and coffee factories, tackle insecurity, handle the squatter problem and ensure there is clean water for locals.

Janet Nangabo- New Ford Kenya

She is a former employee of the Kenya Postal Cooperation and currently a nominated councilor at Kitale Municipal Council. She was nominated in 2007. She stands a better chance given her experience in politics.

If elected, Nangabo says she will help improve security in Trans Nzoia county. She will also empower youth economically by working with financial institutions to help youth secure business loans .

Naomi Okul- TNA

She is currently the national chair, Maendeleo ya Wanawake organisation. She is banking on the support of women in the county. Okul holds a diploma in human resource management from Kenya Commercial College. She also holds a diploma in chemical dependency.

"If elected, I will ensure that orphans and widows are catered for with a special kitty to address their predicament," she said.

Jane Wamboi -TNA

She holds a bachelors degree in social legislation. The 44-year-old human rights activist has promised to improve agriculture in the county.

She says she will push for the construction of the maize milling industry in Kitale. She will also be fighting for the improvement of education in the area.

Glady's Mulati -ODM

She is a former primary school teacher. Having taught for many years, Mulati is banking on the votes of teachers.If elected, Mulati says she will construct more schools in Trans Nzoia alongside pushing for employment of more teachers in the county.

She says she will economically empower women and youth to help uplift their living standards. "People who are educated can easily transform the economy and that is why education and economic empowerment are my priorities," she says.

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