- Culture remains a stumbling block and a limiting factor that pulls back women in their push to gain leadership positions in Gusii.
- The 2010 constitution of Kenya stipulates the provisions of political party formation in the country.
- Women need boldness to stand up and creativity in terms of campaign strategy.
For quite some time now, the Gusii region has been on the public’s for not electing female leaders.
The region, which is comprised of Kisii and Nyamira counties, has seen very few women leaders get elected in the political seats; two women representatives and one MCA.
The other two female political leaders serving in the Senate and national assembly are nominated.
This concern has motivated A Million Hugs, a health and wellness entity, and Media Focus On Africa, a social change-driven, Communication for Development (C4D) NGO, to organize community dialogues to promote conversations on women leadership in the region.
In an event held at Kisii County, various stakeholders gave their insights on the same and enlightened each other on the matter. The conversation was planned and hosted by Media Focus On Africa.
“Media Focus On Africa, champions in leadership, today we are focusing on why more females need to get into leadership, and why Gusii region has few femaleS in leadership,” Tom Juma from Media Focus on Africa stated.
Culture remains a stumbling block and a limiting factor that pulls back women in their push to gain leadership positions in Gusii.
According to Obino Nyambane, Director for Culture in Kisii County, culture is not the main aspect that takes opportunity from people, but their mindset does.
He challenged the women to work on themselves towards having positive mindsets.
Edinah Kangwana MBS, MHC, a renowned transformational women leader and change agent, advised that some aspects of the Gusii culture should be scrapped and women allowed to integrate equally into society, just like men.
Culture should not demean women but license them to empower themselves.
Linet Moruri, a transformational woman leader, advised women to always have their own voices and points of view instead of copying any bad traits exhibited in society.
The 2010 constitution of Kenya stipulates the provisions of political party formation in the country.
It provides a fair ground for both genders to register political parties.
Amisi Oyunge, Executive Director of Alpec Kenya, said that it’s upon women to stand up, form political parties and venture into politics.
They should not wait to join parties formed by males.
At the same time, women who have been running for political seats explained that they have been barred before by their political parties from running for major elective seats.
According to Ms. Kangwana, most men politicians know how to navigate through political party politics; hence should help women to navigate through the same.
“Major political parties from this region should endorse women for these top seats, as we have seen in other regions.
If women are given spots in the parties with political waves in the region, then most of them will be elected,” Ms. Kangwana added.
Amisi Oyunge urged women to create their own political wave, even if in small parties, and work their efforts through.
Doing our homework
Erick Ntabo, Chairperson, People With Disabilities in Kisii County, reminded the women that they have the numbers, according to data from the IEBC register used in the last elections.
He urged them to mobilize youth to turn out during voting to exercise their rights and as well choose leaders.
He said the burden of choosing leaders has been left to the old people by the youths.
Wycliff Likhaya, Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Kisii County, advises women to do their homework in politics.
“They should start early so that you lay foundation early enough, also strategizing your political journey so that you meet the peole at their point of need and make them believe your ambitions so that they will vote you in to cater for their needs,” Mr. LiKhaya added.
He also mentioned that females should be consistent in their political journey.
Women need to brand themselves.
Ms. Kangwana urged women to do this in order to magnify their presence in the political arena for mass acknowledgment.
She added that inclusivity, diversity, and equity are aspects that should never be ignored.
“Collaborative partnership like what Media Focus on Africa and A Million Hugs are doing are good avenues that will offer forums for women empowerment.
Women should exploit these opportunities,” Ms. Kangwana advised, urging women to grab such opportunities and take advantage of every opportunity around them.
She added that women should learn to raise their hands, and opportunities will go to them.
Shared experiences will motivate and teach fellow women about regional politics.
How to do it
Dennis Ondieki of PACS advised women to understand the political terrain of their regions.
“What women from this region lack is an understanding of the nature of politics. Gusii politics are tough and abusive sometimes; women need to find ways to manouver through these tough terrrains,” Mr. Ondieki urged.
He added that women need boldness to stand up and creativity in terms of campaign strategy, and also, for men, they need to support the women financially and morally.
Mr. Oyunge said that times have changed, and so are roles in society. Men should also be willing to be assisted or take back seats and let women lead.
However, women should also be willing to step up even without being told to do so.
Cliff Machoka, CEO of Kenya Conscious Community, insisted on the need for women to acknowledge that they need to stand on their own without waiting to be propped by men in order to rise.
He added that women should focus on creating their own strong waves that will propel them politically.
At the tail end of the discussion, Harrison Manga, Kisii County Director of Media Focus on Africa, encouraged people to always be in check of historical facts on matters of politics.
He encouraged the people from the region to always have these conversations as one of the approaches to mentoring women and reversing the current trend in this region.
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“We encourage people to find it convenient to access the videos of Ms. President Season 1 and 2, and learn major aspects of women and leadership. Let’s embrace each other and support one another,” he said.