Women seeking elective positions in the August 8 General Election have put men who use violence to scare them away, on notice saying they will stand for their rights.
Led by ODM Secretary-General, Dr Agnes Zani, nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo said violence was turning away many women with proven leadership qualities.
“Violence is a real issue that has kept away women from competitive politics. Personally I won but, I was denied a certificate in the last General Election. I had to be firm,” Ms Odhiambo said during an ODM women aspirants’ workshop at the Multimedia University, Nairobi.
They said formation of the women aspirants coordinating committee at the party’s headquarters will go a long way in helping women push for their rights.
“Any man who thinks he will use violence to lock out women from elective positions, we are putting him on notice. Women have what it takes to win seats,” Ms Ongoro said.
“They have the potential. What they don’t have is physical might that has been used against us.”
Women currently represent only about 20 per cent of parliament and 33 per cent of county assemblies. Out of 1,450 seats in county assemblies, only 80 women were elected while the rest were nominated.
At the national level, only 16 women were elected to the National Assembly for single member constituency seats, 47 were elected for special women only county seats while five were nominated for special interest seats.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has regretted that Kenya’s 2013 election did not meet the two-third gender threshold and pointing out that no woman was elected to the Senate or as a governor.
Out of all contestants for four elective positions- governor, senator, MP and MCA-women made up only six percent of candidates. That is 775 out of 12,488 candidates.
“This is a dismal record ODM does not want to be associated with after August elections. We owe it to our women and to our country to ensure that in 2017, we meet the constitutional gender threshold,” Mr Odinga said.
He sought to assure women seeking elective positions through the party that they will not be subjected to any form of discrimination during the party primaries set to start next month.
The former Prime Minister said the party will not condone violence during the exercise warning that any contestant found causing chaos will be disqualified.
“We have issued firm instruction to our National Elections Board (NEB) that the party should not entertain any form of violence,” Mr Odinga said.
“Firm action including disqualification will be taken against candidates who use underhand deals to unfairly secure the party’s nomination certificate.”
Mr Odinga said the party was committed to free and fair nominations and asked women not to shy away from seeking elective positions.