28 March 2017

Kenya: Leaders Decry Violence Against Women in Politics

Women seeking elective positions in the August 8 General Election have put on notice men who use violence to scare them away, saying they will stand for their rights.

Led by ODM Secretary-General Agnes Zani, nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo, the aspirants said violence was turning away many women with proven leadership qualities.

"Violence is a real issue that has kept away women from competitive politics. Personally, I won but I was denied a certificate in the last General Election. I had to be firm," Ms Odhiambo said during an ODM women aspirants' workshop at Multimedia University in Nairobi.

They said the creation of a women aspirants coordinating committee at the party headquarters will help women push for their rights.

NOTICE

"Any man who thinks he will use violence to lock out women from elective positions, we are putting him on notice. Women have what it takes to win seats," Ms Ongoro said.

"They have the potential. What they don't have is physical might that has been used against us."

Women currently represent only about 20 per cent of Parliament and 33 per cent of county assemblies. Of the 1,450 seats in county assemblies, only 80 are held by elected women while other women were nominated.

At the national level, only 16 women were elected to the National Assembly for single-member constituency seats, 47 were elected for special women-only county seats while five were nominated for special-interest seats.

ODM leader Raila Odinga has regretted that Kenya's 2013 election did not meet the two-thirds gender threshold and that no woman was elected to the Senate or as a governor.

Of all contestants for four elective positions -- governor, senator, MP and MCA -- women made up only six percent of candidates. That is 775 out of 12,488 candidates.

FIRM ACTION

"This is a dismal record ODM does not want to be associated with after the August elections. We owe it to our women and to our country to ensure that in 2017, we meet the constitutional gender threshold," Mr Odinga said.

He sought to assure women seeking elective positions through the party that they will not be subjected to any form of discrimination during party primaries planned for next month.

Mr Odinga said the party will not condone violence during the exercise, warning that any contestant found causing chaos will be disqualified.

"We have issued firm instruction to our National Elections Board that the party should not entertain any form of violence," Mr Odinga said.

"Firm action, including disqualification, will be taken against candidates who use underhand deals to unfairly secure the party's nomination certificate."

Mr Odinga said the party is committed to free and fair nominations and urged women not to shy away from seeking elective positions.

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