KENYA: Kenya Women Fail to Win Elective Positions

Sunday, March 10, 2013
Business Day
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Kenyan women failed to win more elective positions in the just concluded general elections, with no woman candidate winning governor and senator positions, meaning none of Kenya's 47 local governments will be led by a woman.

It also means there will be no woman in senior elected position in Kenya, despite the new constitution providing a fairer playing ground for women candidates. Only seven women won the parliamentary seats in 290 positions that were on offer, compared to 22 in the previous parliament.

Women, however, will take solace in the constitutionally backed affirmative action that created a position of women representatives in every county. They will also benefit from the same constitutional provision that requires at least one-third of people appointed in certain positions to be women.

This means, for instance, that women will get eight out of the constitutionally set maximum of 24 cabinet positions. They will also benefit from the provision to nominate sixteen women members to the senate.

"The expectations were that women will win more seats. The campaign environment was fairer and we did not see violence against women candidates, yet women barley made a mark. We need to go back to the drawing board," said Dr Alice Mureithi, the Chairperson of Society for Gender Empowerment, a non-profit, women focused group.

Kenya's only woman presidential candidate Martha Karua — a former Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs — was number six out of the eight candidates. She managed 43,881 compared to the winning candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, who won with 6.1-million votes.

Apart from the presidential candidates, it is a woman parliamentary candidate for Othaya constituency in central Kenya who attracted highest interest in the concluded elections.

Mary Wambui, was the MP-elect for Othaya constituency in central Kenya, which has been represented in parliament by the retiring president Mwai Kibaki for 39 years. Ms Wambui is known to have had intimate relationship with President Kibaki, although the first family has denied it. The family, therefore, campaigned against her candidature but she narrowly won.

The culturally conscious pastoralist Maasai community also elected the first-ever woman Member of Parliament — gender activist Peris Tobiko.

The elections also saw the comeback of retired President Daniel Arap Moi's family into mainstream politics. One of Mr Arap's sons, Gideon Moi was elected Senator of Baringo in the north Rift Valley region, while his other son, Raymond Moi, was elected Member of Parliament for Rongai — a peri-urban constituency near Nakuru Town in centre Rift Valley region.

The conclusion of elections allows Kenya to implement the new system of government, dominated by devolution into 47 counties with elected governors. The new system has also reintroduced the senate, which will have 47 elected representatives. Parliament will have 290 members from the previous 210 and an additional 47 women representatives. The more than 1,000 county representatives will form the assembly at the county government level.