Since 1902

Women will surely steal men's thunder in August elections


Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential running mate shakes hands with Deputy President William Ruto during the National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel. [Courtesy]


In her short story, A room of one's own, Virginia Woolf writes that for a woman to be able to write, she needs money and a room of her own. Today, women need money, determination and elective power to be liberated. Going by the party primaries, the 2022 elections will be peach and pink.

Apart from William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka and a few others who have preferred men as running mates, even the presidential hopeful George Wajackoyah got a woman for a running mate. My survey throughout the country, whose findings list cannot fit here, shows that, like never before, women have taken up the challenge.

We all observed how nominated women were “used” during the 2020 Jubilee fumigation. I then wrote an article in this column titled 'One-third gender rule a raw deal for women' on September 4, 2020. In the article, I told women: “Seek to be elected and be masters of yourselves or pursue reservations of positions in which you’ll be nominated as slaves forever…You must be ready to spend, own political parties and battle it out on the ballot with men.”

Of course, any political party cannot nominate a member of either Parliament or Senate to go into the House and push for an agenda of another party. They are taken there as bots, and they can do nothing about it. They must prioritise the agenda of the party and the party leader. This was so clear from all sides of the political divide that it was flashed on the face of the country in our media.

Ms Woolf wrote at a time when fiction writing was prestigious—it was the only way elites could express themselves. But only men could do so as women were considered weak, emotional and lesser beings. As a result, publishers were never allowed or somewhat agreed to publish women's fiction. In those days, fictional books were the highest outputs of intellectualism. Resultantly, women writers could only capture the male readership and publishing industry by adopting male pen names.

The most outstanding of them is Mary Ann Evans, who rose to be the most excellent British writer—George Eliot. Her contemporaries were Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree, Jr., and Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, whose male pen name was George Sand, among others. The primary reason for these manoeuvres was to have their books sell among men or published without prejudice.

In Kenyan political leadership, women have for long been considered political auxiliaries. They still face prejudice. We know that both men and women propagate the current narratives that joining a particular political side involves sleeping with politicians. Even when we know such narratives lack foundations; they're meant to shoot women down and cower them so that they flinch out of seeking elective political leadership.

However, that is what women have to persevere to clinch elective positions. That way, they will secure the power to negotiate, speak their minds, and make choices without intimidation.

The 2022 realities are not a surprise. The country is ready for women's leadership. I am not talking about Raila Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua. I am speaking of many women who will be elected as governors, deputy governors, MPs and senators and members of county assemblies in 2022.

I am interested in, for example, my academic mentor Prof Phyllis Bartoo who is eyeing to be a Member of Parliament for Moiben. Similarly, the little known Linet Chepkorir, aka Toto, who is giving Bomet woman representative contestants a run for their money.

I’m also talking of women like Cecily Mbarire of Embu, Susan Kihika of Nakuru, Gladys Wanga of Homa Bay, Wangui Ngirici and Anne Waiguru in Kirinyaga, Aisha Jumwa of Kilifi, Wavinya Ndeti of Machakos among others. So men, relax; this election is about women, and little can be done about it!

 Dr Ndonye is a lecturer in the School of Music and Media at Kabarak University