Ruto pledges UDA will field women running mates in future

President William Ruto during the launch of the G7 Strategy that brought together the seven women governors at Safari Park, Nairobi County. [PSC]

President William Ruto on Thursday made a pledge to women that the ruling party will field a female presidential running mate in future polls.

Although he did not specify when the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will field a woman running mate, the President affirmed that he had a pact with his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, that the party will include women in senior positions as provided for by the constitution.

Speaking during the launch of the Women Governors Caucus G7 Strategy in Nairobi, Ruto said even the gubernatorial aspirants will be required to pick the opposite gender as their running mates.

“Cecily Mbaririe is a chair of UDA not by default it is deliberate and intentional and one of the assignments she has is that we must, as a party, lead from the front and we must make in the rules… We have agreed with Gachagua that going forward, if a man is a candidate for President in our party a woman must be running mate and if a woman is candidate, a man can be a running mate,” he said.

He added “We must cascade it down to governors and be intentional and deliberate about it so that it can happen and all the other parties will agree with us because I am sure the party leader in Wiper supported Wavinya (Ndeti), the party leader in ODM supported Gladys (Wanga)  and all the other party leaders supported their women candidates, so we will do this not because we want to do anything against men but because we want to balance so that we all move together.”

He said women are the cornerstone of the country’s politics, drivers of change and agents of democratic governance but decried that their active participation in the country’s politics is limited, restricted and always hampered by obstacles.  He committed to change the course.

The head of state added that the goal was not to discriminate against men but rather to uphold gender standards and push everybody in the same direction.

Women endorsement

On her part Council of Governors Chairperson Anne Waiguru appealed to second-term male governors to endorse female leaders as their possible successors in future gubernatorial races.

She encouraged women leaders to be champions in their respective counties and highlighted that the initiative aims to empower women across political, social, and economic sectors.

The Women Governors Caucus G7 Strategy brings together all the seven elected women governors who include Waiguru, Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Gladys Wanga (Homabay), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), Kawira Mwangaza (Meru) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru).

The caucus seeks to empower and support women leaders in demonstrating efficient, transformational and strategic governance within the devolved structures.

Whereas the president failed to indicate when the ruling party would field the women Presidential candidate, he got tongues wagging as to the fate of Gachagua in the 2027 race.

According to Charles Njoroge, a political analyst, the remarks by the President was two pronged: To keep managing women in politics and to prepare his lieutenants that he was spoilt of choice in future.

“The President’s remarks to me were very calculative, he not only gave women hopes that he or Gachagua may pick one of them in 2027 or even 2032 but also set to claim that he will still dictate who will be UDA’s running mate once he finishes his term, a move that shows he will still want to influence transition politics and probably influence the country’s leadership,” Njoroge noted.

The ‘women effect’ was a major issue in the 2022 General Election after Azimio leader Raila Oidnga picked Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua with the hope of swaying the women vote but even with the choice, the factor did not reflect in the outcome of the presidential results.

But this is not the first time Ruto is hinting at fielding a women running mate. Three years ago, Ruto, when he spoke in Mombasa while issuing sanitary pads to women donated by the United Nations Population Fund, said he would nominate a woman as a running mate in the 2022 presidential elections.

“It is high time women were given equal opportunity in politics and development of the nation. The two-thirds gender rule should be given priority in any discussion involving the Constitution. That is why I am ready to have a woman as my deputy,” said Ruto.

He, however, picked Gachagua after intense haggling. In yesterday’s meeting the president paid special tribute to Narc leader Charity Ngilu for the courage she demonstrated when she contested the presidency in 1997, observing that this had inspired many women who have since contested elective posts.

By AFP 15 mins ago
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