Aspiring women leaders from West Pokot County have called upon the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioner(IEBC) to lower the educational clause for women from marginilized areas. They argued that women had disadvantaged while the men were learning they were either forced to take care of livestock or forced into early marriages.
Speaking after a two day workshop organized by Peacenet in conjuction with a local NGO called Sikom and Maendeleo ya Wanawake, more that a hundred women drawn from all the division in the expansive Pokot county narrated their predicaments on their quest for leadership.
Mary Mariachi, a member of the Maendeleo ya wanawake narrated and nearly brought the group to tears on how she had to drop out of school in standard five and consequently married off to an older man.
“In those days women were viewed as wealth generators and when you have finished the initiation rites you had nothing to do other than to be handed over to a man you have never talked to nor know and life started like that,” noted Mrs. Mariachi.
Mrs. Mariachi sentiments were seconded by Teresa Lokichu, a local representative of Maendeleo ya Wanawake added that there was immerse leadership skills among the women in marginalized communities but their was lack of opportunity to harness them.
“Some of us are born leaders, look at me I dropped of school at class seven for lack of tuition fees but I have been able to lead this organisation to where it is now, so if given a chance I can even be the first woman governor in Pokot and run our county effectively than our male counter parts,” she went ahead to explain.
Millicent Otieno, the coordinator of local capacity building at peace net international said that the marginalized communities were the greatly affected by the set of new rules as they faced a lot of challenges.
She noted that apart from education level, language was a major barrier saying that nearly three thirds of the locals do not speak or understand Swahili leave alone English and wondered how the educational clause will be effected.
“the locals you see here are mainly from urban areas but back in the villages, if you speak Swahili to the folks they wonder what you are saying band you need a translator for them to understand you.” Said Otieno.
Also the greatest setback is the perception of women by the locals. Naturally, women are expected not to talk in public but to take a back stage and concur with all the men have agreed on as their culture dictates.
Through organisations like Sikom in partnership with other organizations the likes of Lokichu and her friends will have a say in the community as the response towards their initiative which covers a wider perspective including peace and conflict resolution is being slowly adopted by the community with some quarters saying that it is time even women should be tried in the leadership circles.
“We need to come out of our tribal cocoons and embrace change for the well being of our county and change begins with me and you,” noted Julia Loburon a women rep aspirant in the county.
Peace net is working among locals from west Pokot, Kisumu, Nakuru,Mombasa and isiolo counties educating the locals on the importance of an open and peaceful election, a move they are partnering with the IEBC.
The organisation mainly targets youths and women as they are the major factors during politics thus key players in the whole process sighting that they are lobbying for funds to roll out the programme country wide.
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