Kenya: Legendary Female Politicians Seek Unified Push for Gender Diversity

21 October 2020

As push for gender diversity in Kenya's development remains a critical cause, legendary female politicians have called on their incumbent colleagues to unite in championing for the cause.

Former Member of Parliament (MP) in East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Ms Mumbi Ngaru, says the legislators must shed off their political affiliations' shields to spearhead women's common cause.

"We lost it when we stopped being in the political party called 'Women'," she said during an October 19, Celebrating Women Political Legends webinar.

"Today and I say without fear of any contradiction, you dare to be different in your own political party and you become irrelevant," she added in the virtual meeting hosted by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Kenia.

She said her political career has been shaped by fellow female politicians beyond her own political outfit, Orange Democratic Party (ODM).

Former mayor

"I was an opposition person but Zipporah Kittony and Jane Kiano, who were in Kanu could look for me and encourage me," said Ms Mumbi who served in EALA between 2012 and 2017.

She urged the female legislators to firmly stand for the common good of women across the country.

"I have realised over time that politics is not dirty. It is the players who get into politics that make it dirty; and it is done deliberately to keep all that can make a change out of that field," said Ms Mumbi, who is also former mayor of Thika Municipal Council.

Former Karachuonyo MP Ms Phoebe Asiyo, said female legislators have the power to speed off the pace for achieving gender equality in the country.

She said impacts of women in leadership are evidential hence, their exclusion in decision making spaces is unacceptable.

"It has been a long journey but women have proven themselves in leadership and technology," said Ms Asiyo, who is also former ambassador to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem).

Change mindset

"I cannot understand why the role of women in leadership cannot be appreciated 10 years after (promulgating) the Constitution," she added.

Professor of International Relations and Governance at the University of Nairobi, Maria Nzomo, said it will take a change of mindset of Kenyans, in regards to equality between men and women, for the Constitution to be effectively implemented.

"Although we have a very good Constitution, we have not changed the attitude, values of our people in the society, "said Prof Nzomo, also a former ambassador of Kenya to the United Nations.

"We can have a good document but unless people are willing to change their mindset and for them to naturally think that it is important for both men and women to participate in leadership, (then) you can't get very far," she added.

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