The newly created post of women representatives has the candidates in Meru County promising to tackle women and youth issues head on.
Among the problems faced by women include access to better maternal health care, financial institutions, provision of basic facilities such as water, food, education and getting them to actively participate in development projects by owning them is of essence.
The youth who have come out strongly than before to participate in the electoral process need empowerment and there is call for improvement of the tertiary institutions, provision of the right entrepreneurial skills and easier mechanisms for them to acquire credit facilities for investments.
Most of those interviewed say there is need to inculcate in the youth the spirit of community participation and owning up of the education system to help in fighting archaic and retrogressive cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, early childhood marriages, child labor and condoning of illiteracy.
As many of the aspirants seek to address these challenges in their own perspective, it goes without saying that out of the six potential aspiring women representatives, only one of them will carry the day after the much awaited March 4, elections.
Emilly Makena who is married to a famous business man from Naari area of Buuri won her nomination of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party after toppling other nominees who included Susan Munya from Tigania East and Gacheri Muthaura from Imenti North.
She joins the fold of others among them Halima Mucheke who was tossed from party to party seeking nomination after she claimed of having been rigged out in the TNA party a day before the nominations.
Mucheke who had expressed her interest before anybody else in Meru County immediately after the passing of the new constitution was initially in the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) before defecting to United Republican Party(URP) where she accused the former of subjecting her into ridicule due to lack of financial resources.
After expressing interest to go for nominations against Florence Kajuju of The National Alliance party, Mucheke claimed she realized there was a plot to rig her out of the race and went shopping for a new party where she secured the GNU party ticket.
Beatrice Baariu a business woman in Maua was nominated by the Narc Kenya party to vie for the seat of women representative in Meru County.
Carrying the Alliance Party of Kenya(APK) flag will be Elizabeth Karambu Kailemia a native of Imenti North married in Igembe South who called for enhanced peace during the campaigns season and urged all aspirants to preach peace in their campaigns.
“In times of war, women and children suffer a lot, It’s my request to all politicians seeking various seats in the forthcoming elections to preach peace and avoid all utterances that may incite the people to turn against their fellow citizens”, said Karambu.
Flagging The National Alliance party flag in Meru County will be Florence Kajuju who was the first to launch her campaigns in Mikinduri Town which is her home turf while accompanied by more than 40 serving Meru councilors at a function that was also attended by the immediate former Eldoret North MP William Ruto as a guest.
Florence, who is currently the front runner in the race, is a lawyer who has been practicing for the last 17 years and has also been awarded the Moran of the Order of Burning Spear by President Kibaki for her exemplary service to community over the years.
She says having been brought up in Meru, she has experienced the challenges which include lack of basic services, soaring illiteracy levels and seeks to offer her candidature for the seat to help in solving these among other challenges.
“I know a mother is the link between the husband and the children, the nuclear family, the community and the society at large. It is therefore for this reason I dedicate my services to the people of Meru to be the missing link between them and the county government”, she said.
She further says whoever is elected among them has a responsibility of improving the medical care sector by establishing hospitals in every ward and have them equipped and supplied with quality drugs and personnel to rescue the bedrock of women facing inadequate maternal health care.
Kajuju who has served as an advocate says land issues in the county are a thorn and a hindrance to development due to lack of ownership and registration documents.
“This has to stop so that our people can get title deeds which can be used as collateral for accessing credit facilities which in turn shall create growth and development”, she adds.
The issue of providing water in Meru County has overly become a cliche in every politician’s agenda in as much as each of them has been thanking the Kibaki administration over enhanced improvement of infrastructure.
The unique economic aspect of Meru North is the quick money minting cash crop of Miraa and Kajuju admits that time has come to ebb out the connotation that Miraa is a bad drug as was portrayed by the Dutch government which banned all imports of Miraa under allegations that its a drug of the same category as Opium.
“I shall fight tooth and nail to ensure that there is legislation to protect Miraa so that 90 percent of the income from Miraa is ploughed back into the county. We do not want to have situations where Miraa is banned from some countries on allegations that it is a drug and instead we need general farming that shall grow our people economically and materially”, she said.
Apart from tackling challenges of the youth, Kajuju targets to introduce a bill in parliament which will govern how the elder members of the society are taken care of.
Last in the nominations list is Jenniffer Kaaka Nkunini who is vying in a SAFINA party ticket from Igembe. Nkunini says she has been able to mobilize and help the women in her community to form self help groups through which they have been able to benefit from the women revolving fund and better their lives. She believes that once you empower a woman it trickles down to the whole family and she is passionate about widows and vulnerable orphans’ children (OVCs).
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