Devolution is at work, we can make it better

CoG Vice-Chair James Ongwae, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, Nominated Senator Alice Milgo and Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa during the 7th Annual Devolution Conference in Makueni. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Women are the fulcrum of the economy, playing critical socio-economic roles across the world. Globally, there’s a sustained clamour for empowerment initiatives targeting women, premised upon the fact that they go a long way in uplifting rural communities.

Women have a dual role of producers and catalysts in the full range of activities that fire up an economy. When more women work, the economy grows. Kenya and other sub-Saharan countries can attest to this.

However, while their role in economic emancipation is incontestable, their contribution to governance and political revolution still struggles to gain traction. But over time, more open and inclusive nations and societies tend to be more prosperous, effective and resilient. This is evidenced by overwhelming data on the contribution of women and the youth.

According to UN Women, gender equality in the highest positions of power across the world will not be reached for another 130 years. And just 10 nations have a woman head of state and 13 countries have a woman head of government.

The 2010 Constitution opened up space for women’s political participation in Kenya. While the gender rule remains elusive, we have noted milestones in the journey.

The journey is just starting. And nearly 10 years into devolution, women leaders have work cut out for them. I believe time is ripe for more women to have a voice in higher echelons of power. This is why I seek to be Homa Bay governor in the coming elections.

My push is premised on four larger themes of establishing a transformative, efficient and inclusive governance system, improving health and citizens’ wellbeing, ensuring food security, job creation and poverty eradication, empowering women and youth and harnessing untapped cultural and tourism potential.

To realise the potential of devolution, there’s isn’t been a better time to eliminate graft and usher in good governance. Poor governance practices are substantially to blame for our county’s current social, political, and economic challenges. Ten years after devolution, our great county is still confronted with teething socio-economic challenges.

With the benefit of hindsight, having served two terms as county MP, my antidote would be a prudent use of resources. There’s need to change tack in addressing the age-old challenges of poverty, corruption, wanting healthcare standards and high disease burden, poor infrastructure and insecurity.

My rallying call is the promotion of evidence-based policymaking and the rule of law. It is vital to support citizens’ participation in policymaking and implementation to achieve inclusive governance.

Recognising that agriculture is the backbone of the economy, I foresee a situation where through innovative agricultural development models, we can catalyse economic growth in Homa Bay, reduce poverty, enhance food security through climate-smart agriculture and increase farmer incomes. It can be done. We can have food on the table, money in our pocket.

As I launch my governorship bid tomorrow, I promise voters change and restoration of glory.

They say together we will. It is not about me but about the interests of a county dear to my heart. My philosophy is “Genowa” (our hope). Yes, our collective hope and resolve will make things better.

The writer is Homa Bay County governor aspirant.