20 April 2017

Kenya: 23 Women Are Fighting to Get Into the Senate

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/The Nation
Members of the Senate during a past session in Nairobi.

The balance between the sexes in the Senate looks set to remain tilted in favour of men as only 23 women have asked to be nominated for election as senators at the next General Election.

No woman was elected to the Senate in the last General Election, which resulted in the 18 who got there having to be picked from the lists of would-be nominees submitted to the electoral commission before the polls.

Now, going by the lists published by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, women appear not very interested in the seat, though at 23, the number is higher than the 10 who want to be governors.

The difference now is that the role of the Senate is now understood and some of those gunning for the position are recognizable and have some political experience.

The place of women in elected positions has gained significance with the expiry of the five-year timeline to fully implement the Constitution, which requires that no more than two-thirds of elected positions be filled by one gender.

COURT ORDER

A judge has already ordered Parliament to implement the law on its composition or face dissolution. Three attempts to pass the Bill to amend the Constitution have failed in both the Senate and the National Assembly. President Uhuru Kenyatta has already directed Majority Leader Aden Duale to reintroduce the Bill in the National Assembly, which resumes next month for its last sittings before the final recess in mid-June.

As with most other positions, the largest number of aspirants is from the Jubilee Party, President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election vehicle formed after the merger of 11 parties.

The 19 aspirants are from three coastal counties, two in central Kenya and six in the Rift Valley region.

Narc-Kenya has one aspirant for the senate seat, Catherine Mukite Nabwala in Trans Nzoia. Ms Nabwala is a senator nominated by Ford-Kenya. She is competing against three men for the Narc-Kenya ticket, amongst them the incumbent, Henry ole Ndiema.

ASPIRANTS

In the Orange Democratic Movement, one of the main Opposition parties, there are three women aspirants for the Senate.

They are, Beatrice Khakali Kitiabi in Trans Nzoia, Margaret Adhiambo Oketch in Siaya and Rose Kisia Omondi in Kisumu.

Ms Oketch has the task of dealing with the incumbent in Siaya, James Orengo, while Ms Omondi is competing against five men.

The other parties did not have women among the aspirants listed for the Senate. This could however change as the IEBC updates the lists to correct errors and omissions pointed out by the parties.

In Jubilee, the women aspirants are: Hazel Katana (Mombasa), Caroline Andzazi Chilango (Kilifi), Monicah Njambi Kirunyu (Lamu), Joyce Wanjalah Lay (Taita Taveta), Beatrice Gathoni Kamau (Nyandarua), Sheila Waruguru Githaiga (Nyeri), Margaret Wanjiru Ndehi (Kiambu) and Margaret Kamar and Victorine Jepkorir Kapkiai (Uasin Gishu).

Others are: Mary Jemutai Mengech, Stellah Chepkemboi Ruttoh and Anne Jepkorir Sainna in Nandi, Saphina Jepkorir Chelagat and Christine Chebichi Ndoigo in Baringo, Susan Kihika and Josepha Wambui Mambo in Nakuru, Caroline Wambui Chege in Kajiado, Saida Chepkemei in Bomet and Hellen Makone in Nyamira.

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