Women have made gradual progress marking their presence in national politics. This is demonstrated by election of women into elective positions, sizeable contenders by women for various as well a number of them at the helm of political parties leadership.
This came to the fore during the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) forum, held on 18th and 19th May 2021, where the Registrar of Political Parties, Ann Nderitu was the Chief Guest. She gave keynote address to guide grassroots women leaders with focus on funding and campaign support for women candidates.
The Registrar highlighted statistics as drawn from ORPP-maintained data that depict mixed gains in women pursuit for political leadership as well as membership outlook. For instance, she noted, out the total 16,311,226 Kenyans registered as members in various political parties at the time, 9,717,827 were male while 6,593,399 were female slot, representing about 40% representation. A further review on the office bearers aspect in political parties, women accounted for an average 37%.
On seeking elective political leadership, there has been mixed outcome, where for example, in the past presidential contests, four women aspirants have tried their hand, among them being: Hon. Charity Ngilu who contested as a presidential candidate in 1997 on an SDP ticket; Hon. Martha Karua on a NARC- Kenya ticket in 2013 while Hon. Prof. Julia Ojiambo featured as vice presidential candidate in 2007. At the helm of political parties, there are at present 6 party women as party leaders. Additionally, in 2017 general elections, substantial milestone was registered where a number of women were elected in governorship, Members of National Assembly and Members of County Assembly as compared in the 2013. “In 2013 there were no elected women in the gubernatorial positions whereas in 2017, there were three (3) women governors elected”, read the address in part.
The Registrar also guided and sensitized participants on a raft of legal mechanisms in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK), Political Parties Act,2011 and other enabling legislation that seek to provide opportunities for women participation in politics. Guaranteed given for party lists under Article 90 of the Constitution, special seats set aside under Article 90 of CoK, purpose and distribution of Political Parties Fund that seek to promote representation of women in Parliament and County Assemblies among others legal and policy interventions were highlighted. Relevant stipulations in the Political Parties Code of Conduct and Elections Code of Conduct related to the subject area were also interrogated.
Out of the deliberations and challenges highlighted, several mitigation measures were seen palpable. “Insightful discussions we had today, I think some of interventions that are needed of various duty bearers include: appropriate legal reform and implementation; grassroots sensitization; mapping and capacity building of women”, Registrar noted. She summed with a clarion call for “collegiate institutional and individual collaboration. This would reshape political parties to cater for women candidates to tap into opportunities that guarantee meaningful participation of women in the political spaces”.