By Njoki Karuoya
The General Election is round the corner and women aspirants are, hopefully, working feverishly behind the scenes to win the electoral posts of their choice. Thus far, however, we have only heard male voices in earnest.
It is a fact that all women candidates have to work doubly hard to be believed, endorsed and accepted as constituency or national leaders, irrespective of how hard we beat the ‘gender equality’ drum.
The truth is that the milestones thus far realised have taken a gradual, slow pace, to the extent that there are still ‘educated’ men and women who still consider any male leader, no matter how corrupt, to be more superior to all women.
top of mind
I suppose one reason why this is so is because men are often in the forefront seeming to be doing or building something positive for their communities. Talk economics and the names and faces that automatically appear top of mind are those of men. Ditto to politics, law, construction, and even crime like drugs and terrorism.
Women are often seen in the background and so people generally tend to lose faith in their ability to forcefully fight for their rights and swing development funds towards their communities.
This, however, should not discourage women with political ambitions from standing up to be counted. Women who have done this for the longest time eventually get rewarded with prime jobs in government, regional assemblies or on the international platform. It’s all about believing in your abilities and then being persistent, to the extent that your name is top of mind on all the power brokers in the country and abroad.
At a forum held early this year that brought women leaders and aspirants together at the Bomas of Kenya to launch and endorse a women’s charter that laid out their demands, I was amazed by the appearance of the majority in the crowd. Yes, they called themselves ‘leaders’ but did not have the pre-requisite markings.
For instance, where they should have been bold and assertive, most were shy and laid-back. They declined opportunities to stand up and express their sentiments, or even ask questions after presentations. Most opted to demurely recline in their seats, happy to let the proceedings go on and for other women to participate.
When they walked, they did so meekly, in herds, as if afraid to stand out and demand attention. The only time their voices were vehemently heard was when they complained about allowances, which were sorted out eventually, and meals.