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Women still face challenges in political leadership

30 September 2013, 18:59 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - The report dubbed 'Young Women in Politics, Experiences of 2013 General Elections' states that the participation of young women in electoral and political processes remains dismally low due to chains of challenges ranging from sociocultural barriers to poverty issues.

The report, launched in Nairobi on Friday by Thika constituency MP, Hon. Alice Ng'ang'a, with a group of both elected and nominated women in the County Assemblies across the country states that women were the greatest casualties of a mismanaged electoral process.

"Women suffered the blunt of violence including acrimonious nature of competitive politics and lack of management framework to support free, fair and credible primaries nomination thus making many young women to shy away from other elective positions except that of Women Representative. No wonder they performed dismally at all levels," states the report.

The report records that 53% of women were attracted to the Women Representative post, 30% to the County Representative, 12% to the Senatorial, 5% to the National Assembly while almost none was interested in the Gubernatorial seat.

According to the survey, weak institutional capacity within political parties and lack of intra-party democracy that compromised the ability to deliver a credible nomination process, tribalism and political euphoria in the nomination, lack of finance and huge nomination fee were some of the challenges that led to dismal women participation in politics.

The survey further cites the experience of an ODM County Assembly Representative aspirant who narrates, "As a young woman candidate, political euphoria contributed significantly to my loss since I am on an ODM ticket in Rift Valley which was then a URP/Jubilee alliance stronghold. I was perceived to be a traitor to my tribe and in view of this, I was a victim of political violence and tribal chauvinism which cost me victory."

The report adds that there is lack of political support by women peers who support old people for money, manipulation of young women by rich politicians to step down in their favor, non-registration of young women at almost 6% to a political party yet aspire to hold key party positions, and incidences of rampant political violence whereby rich, old politicians use youths to intimidate them.

To demonstrate democratic incompetence in political parties, the report cites the experience of a young female aspirant in Kisumu who won the County Representative position but was not presented with the nomination certificate on the ground that the ODM election body had nullified the results in Nyanza and Western region due to irregularities. ODM instead chose another candidate of their choice who replaced her.

In an effort to foster women participation in political leadership, the survey's analysis reveals that 29% sampled young women leaders suggest that women should be fully involved in decision making regarding party activities. 23% suggest they should be involved in advocacy and public awareness, 18% suggest the need to establish a Young Women League in various political parties for empowerment, 12% suggest involvement in full management of party affairs, while 12% suggest promotion of leadership and governance. Another 6% suggest spearheading of youth agenda in their respective parties.

Hon. Ng'ang'a urged women to aspire for elective positions not to be nominated as a way of realising women empowerment in this new era citing that out of the 441 Members of County Assembly nationwide, only 21 young women were elected while the majority were nominated.

She advised young women to set their priorities right through consistence and persistence using the SWOT (strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats) analysis to succeed in political leadership.

She also urged them to celebrate their predecessor women in politics because it motivates and challenges them to learn from their strengths and weaknesses.   

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