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Kenyan women make history with record election victories

#Kenyan #women #history #record #election #victories

Kenyans have elected a record number of women to positions of power in this month’s polls, with the list including seven governors, three senators and 26 MPs, a step towards gender equality.

The East African nation has long struggled to bring women into politics, with men making up the overwhelming majority of elected officials and female politicians largely destined to serve as one of Kenya’s 47 female representatives.

But the August 9 election marked a breakthrough for women politicians.

In the populous Rift Valley city of Nakuru, for example, women candidates were elected to eight positions, including governor, senator and women’s representative – with Susan Kihika, Tabitha Karanja and Liza Chelule claiming those victories.

“Now sit down and see what women can achieve in office,” said newly elected Senator Karanja, who owns Kenya’s second largest brewer, Keroche Breweries Ltd. directs.

Governor-elect Kihika thanked Nakuru voters “for being progressive and electing three women to lead this county.”

– “Broken Barriers” –

All three women belong to President-elect William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance party, and the country’s new leader is hailing their victories.

“We celebrate the many women who have broken down barriers to climb the political ladder. Best wishes as you take on your new duties,” Ruto said on Twitter on Saturday as the results rolled in.

Kenyans voted in six elections, electing a new president as well as senators, governors, legislators, women’s representatives and about 1,500 county officials.

With the exception of Ruto, all presidential candidates have had female running mates, including his main rival Raila Odinga, who chose former Attorney General Martha Karua for his ticket.

Women secured seven gubernatorial victories, more than doubling their 2017 tally.

They claimed the politically influential circles of Kirinyaga and Machakos, as well as Meru, where former women’s representative Kawira Mwangaza ran as an independent candidate, defeating her male competitors.

“Thank you for believing in me and in women’s leadership,” Mwangaza said.

“I promise you that Meru will be the best district because there will be sustainable development projects,” she added.

– online abuse –

In addition to winning seven out of 47 gubernatorial elections, female candidates claimed three out of 47 vacant Senate seats and 26 out of 290 congressional positions.

Linet Chepkorir, 24, became the youngest MP in Kenya’s history after being elected a female MP in Bomet County in the Rift Valley less than a year after graduating from university.

The victories capped a month-long election campaign in which female candidates faced a spate of online abuse, including aggressive sexist language, gender stereotypes and sexual advances.

The International Federation for Human Rights and the Kenya Human Rights Commission warned before the survey that such tactics are “deliberately used to prevent politicians or candidates from taking part in active politics”.

With a population of around 50 million, around 22.1 million voters were registered. Almost 40 percent of voters, or 8.8 million, are aged between 18 and 34, down since the last poll but still evidence of vibrant youth.

But observers say the record victories are likely to encourage more women to join the political struggle and reinforce the push for gender parity.

According to the 2010 Kenyan constitution, each gender must have at least one-third of the seats in parliament.

But successive parliaments and governments have missed the mark.

Attempts to pass legislation that would force Parliament to be dissolved if the one-third threshold is not met have been repeatedly obstructed by male lawmakers.

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