Why women remain divided on voting for a female president

The Friday convention for women political leaders helped in yielding a unanimous perspective for women from all over the country.

But while the at Bomas of Kenya meeting ended peacefully, it also unearthed major differences Kenyan women have among themselves when it comes to leadership and politics.

Chaos erupted at the forum with seeming rivalry between different factions.

Belying the chaos was the chants of ‘Uhuru Kenyatta for president’ when Zainab Hussein, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, asked how the women will vote for presidency.

Earlier, one of the two masters of ceremony at the event had egged the crowed to chant ‘Mama’ by asking in jest who women will vote for in August.

“MCA? MP? Senator? Governor? ” she asked, an emphatic ‘Mama’ thundering along at the mention of every post.

However, when she called out “President?” a big section of the crowd roared with ‘Uhuru’, much to the dismay of those with a different opinion.

The MC, unconvincingly, then said, “We should vote even for woman as president.”

The conundrum – why when asked who to vote for as president, instead of replying ‘Mama’ as they had done with MCA, MP, senator and governor, majority of the women said ‘Uhuru’ – remained largely unresolved.

Why couldn’t they affirm support for a female presidential candidate?

Outside the conference hall, Judy Wanjiku, a woman from Kajiado County, told The Standard on Sunday that she will never vote for a woman president.

“A woman should not be president: even at home it is a man who heads the family.”

Martha Wamaitha, attending the convention from Murang’a County, said Kenya is not ready for a woman president.

She added: “I am among those who chanted ‘Uhuru’ when they asked who we will vote for as president. That is just the reality right now.”

We also found women whose opinion was in variance with majority of the attendants.

“I would vote for a woman president,” Sharon Kizu, a voter in Nairobi County, said. “However, I will be careful to know her behaviour and mannerisms first. I won’t just give her my vote because she is a woman.”

In her speech at the convention, Martha Karua revisited her candidature in 2013, saying that even though she was not elected president, she didn’t give up. Martha, who has declared interest in Kirinyaga County’s governor seat, seems to have given up her presidential ambitions.

“If I get elected in Kirinyaga I will be serving Kenyans at large,” she said.

Charity Ngilu, the first woman to vie for presidency in 1997, said she will be vying for governor’s post in Kitui County.

So far, Rajput Nazlin Umar, who vied for presidency on Workers Congress Party of Kenya ticket in 2007, is the only woman who will be competing for State House this year in August.

Will women vote for a female candidate this year?

The jury is still out.

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