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Why it will be tough achieving gender parity in county assemblies

Women in North Rift lose out in elective positions

Only one or two women made it as men sweep nearly all the votes cast

Nearly all women who vied for various seats in the August 8 General Election lost to their male political rivals.

In Trans Nzoia County, Woman Representative Janet Nangabo and Kwanza MCA-elect Sarah Lubano are the only elected women leaders in the county.

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Among those who lost were two Senate seat candidates, Catharine Mukite and Beatrice Kitiabi.

Ms Mukite emerged fourth with 22,231 votes while Ms Kitiabi managed 13,725 votes in the race that had 8 candidates.

Also losing out to her male counterpart was Milka Psiwa (Kanu) who wrestled against nine men for the Saboti parliamentary seat.

The hotly contested seat was won by a youthful politician, Caleb Amisi, who polled 19,655 votes, against Ms Psiwa’s 4,000 votes.

In Cherangany constituency, two women participated in the race for area Member of Parliament (MP) seat: Maoledi Iseme of Amani National Congress(ANC] and an independent candidate, Milka Zaidi. Both performed dismally in a race won by presidential advisor Joshua Kuttuny, who made a political comeback with over 25,000 votes.

Poll results show that over 60 women who joined the race for MCA seats performed poorly and lost to male contestants.

In Uasin Gishu, only one woman was elected to the county assembly.

Sarah Jelagat Malel, a former hotelier, garnered 13,439 votes to emerge the winner in Kimumu ward.

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The region has 30 wards and her win means the assembly has to nominate more women to achieve gender parity.

In the previous term, the assembly had three female legislators namely, Josephine Tireito who represented Cheptiret-Kipchamo, Rebbeca Chepchirchir of Kuinet ward and Pauline Tuwei of Kapseret ward.

All of them lost in party primaries.

In Turkana, only one woman, Leah Nachere Ideya of Jubilee, was elected to the county assembly. She will represent Lake Zone ward.

The rejection of the female aspirants has elicited mixed reactions from women leaders and proponents of gender equality.

Lydiah Lihali, who lost Tuwan Ward described the outcome of the results in the county as an insult to women in the area. She said she could not understand how she lost in a ward that has 4,000 more women voters than men.

“In my ward, there are over 11,000 women voters against 7,000 men voters, but I only secured 800 votes,” she said.

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Nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony and human rights activist Leonard Barasa expressed concern about the voting trend in the region, saying it denied women representation, particularly in county assemblies.

“August 8 will remain the worst history for us in Trans Nzoia. The rejection of female candidates at the ballot is a serious threat to women empowerment,” said Ms Kittony.

“It is disturbing that women aspirants were snubbed by the electorate. This means the residents do not value women’s leadership,” said Mr Barasa, who is the director Justice and Peace Centre, Kitale.

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