KENYA 2022 ELECTIONS: FINDING THE GENDER BALANCE

We are effectively into the election year. Kenya’s general election are due to be held in August 2022. In the last few weeks there’s been a heightening of political activities across the country. As with every electoral cycle, the issue of participation and representation of women will come into sharp focus. The constitution requires that not more than two thirds of the members of any elective body consist of one gender. 11 years after the constitution was passed, this threshold is far from being realized. Following the 2017 election, women made up 7.9% of elected MPs (from the 290 constituencies), 6.4% of Governors and Senators and 6.6% of elected MCAs. Regionally (East Africa) Kenya lags behind in the representation of women.

A variety of reasons account for the low representation of Kenyan women in political leadership. Top of the pile is the impact of age old social-cultural norms that define gender roles in our communities.  This has proved a major hindrance to women achieving political leadership. Political campaigns tend to be quite expensive. A study estimated the cost of running for an MP seat in 2017 to range between 20-35 million Kenya shillings. Due to socio-cultural norms that govern ownership and access to property and capital, women are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to raising resources for campaigning.

High media visibility of political candidates contributes to likelihood of success, but women candidates are less visible in the media. A 2019 global study commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that men remain the vast majority of quoted experts and sources in political news coverage and that the share of voice by men is 7 times that of women. The male dominance of political leadership spaces means that male candidates in competition with female candidates benefit from the unconscious bias of the voters i.e. voters unconsciously equate political leadership with men. The dominance also means that male candidates have abundance of role models to learn and get inspiration from. Female candidates competing with male candidates for the same seat and with similar qualifications and experience must work at least twice as hard to compete favorably.

As we head towards the August 2022 election, the need to increase the number of elected women representatives across the board has never been more apparent. In order for this to happen, female candidates for election require a lot of support. Strategic election planning training can make a significant contribution towards the success of female candidates in election. This refers to the capacity to approach electoral campaigning strategically. It involves analysis and use of data on demographics, past elections and voter trends to inform a candidate’s campaign plan. Strategic election planning allows a candidate to efficiently and effectively utilize limited resources and time during campaigns while greatly increasing the chances of success. Female candidates for election can also greatly benefit from increased visibility as a result of effective branding and messaging using digital/social media platforms. Digital/social media can be a useful alternative platform for visibility for female candidates during the campaigns. Proper branding on these platforms can also lead to getting noticed and profiled on traditional media which ultimately leads to getting known by more electorates. Learning from, inspiration and motivation by senior elected female colleagues can also add great value to female candidates running for election, particularly for those running for the first time.

With funding from the Canada High Commission’s Fund for Local Initiative, Media Focus on Africa (MFA) is embarking on a project to support 20 women aspirants for various elective seats from the counties of Narok, Nyandarua, West Pokot and Kajiado. The goal of the project is “Strengthening the democratic participation of women in Kenya”.   These 4 counties were chosen because they are among those counties in Kenya that have some of the least numbers of elected women throughout Kenya’s history. The support in form of training will expose the women to Strategic election planning and digital media skills for campaigning. In addition the women shall receive motivation and inspiration from elected female colleagues. The project will run for the next 4-6 months.

This project is in line with MFA‘s priority focus area of gender equality. Over the last 5 years, MFA has implemented a number of exciting and successful projects on gender equality including the recently aired popular TV series ‘Ms President’. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is at the core of the government of Canada International Policy- the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Image courtesy of UN.

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Meet #MsPresident Nuru Mohammed. She is an enthusiast, engineer and a champion of sustainable development with an BSc. and Msc. in water resources and environment engineering. She has acquired experience in designing, implementing and capacity building in water, environment, sanitation, land management and urban development programs.She is focused on programs that will enhance a sustainable economy and improve food security. She is passionate about girl education is sciences and has participated in mentorship of girls in schools. Read more about her story here:https://mediafocusonafrica.org/ms-president-2022/#MsPresident #SheCanLead ... See MoreSee Less
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On Thursday, the premiere episode of #MsPresident aired on @ktnhome_ . Their first task given to them by the judges was to form political parties, choose their President from amongst themselves and create their manifestos. If you missed out on all the action, worry not. You can catch the re-run this Sunday at 2.00pm. #MsPresident #SheCanLead ... See MoreSee Less
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We had a successful dialogue on GBV in Jinja city. MFA is using edutainment, media and dialogues to fight GBV against women and girls and to promote women's rights at the grassroot levels of the most affected communities . With support from Urgent Action Fund, MFA has partnered with ADOVIC , a community based organization for facilitate the dialogues. ... See MoreSee Less
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MFA Uganda is using radio & community dialogue to create more platforms for communities especially women to debate and find realistic solutions to confront GBV. This week we are in Jinja for dialogues in partnership with ADOVIC Uganda supported by Urgent Action Fund ... See MoreSee Less
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Meet #MsPresident Nuru Mohammed. She is focused on programs that will enhance a sustainable economy and improve food security. She is passionate about girl education in sciences.

Read more about her story here: https://t.co/zUHOcVFOVN

#MsPresident #SheCanLead https://t.co/aDcxhKgdNB
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Did you catch the Premere episode of #MsPresident on Thursday? If you missed it, I have some great news for you.

Catch the re-run on Sunday only on @ktnhome_ from 2.00pm.

#MsPresident #SheCanLead https://t.co/HSntqeWaFt
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Yesterday we had an amazing start to #MsPresident Season 2. We hope you all enjoyed the show. Stay tuned because the show is only going to get better. What did you think of last night's episode?

Ms President Contestant Lydia Munika had some interesting insights. #SheCanLead https://t.co/pDqFDsDvhf
GIVEAWAY ALERT! As promised, we owe you a giveaway. All you need to do is be among the first 3 people to answer this question.

In the Season Premiere of #MsPresident, what was Sawazisha's Party Slogan?

#SheCanLead https://t.co/6ad9pPT0Ju
We can not wrap up #MsPresident Premiere without thanking the partners who have walked with us through this journey. @CanHCKenya @unwomenkenya @EUinKenya.

We look forward to seeing the rest of the show unfold.
#MsPresident #SheCanLead https://t.co/IWXpT806I4
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There you have it, judges @Zippy_okoth, @Njeri_Kiereini and @miconyango have decided that all the women get to fight another day. However, they have been left with a stern warning to step up their game. It will take more to become the ultimate #MsPresident.

#SheCanLead https://t.co/c1oJ9gKKyR
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#Jinja #CommunityDialogues
QUOTE: "Many young people are getting married at teenage years but after a few years of being together the woman is far more mature in reasoning than her husband. That difference in reasoning is causing conflict that ends up as GBV in homes"
@UrgentAct https://t.co/ygVJHXT1YN
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#Jinja #CommunityDialogues #EndGBV
"Poverty is the main cause of GBV here. We have a saying in lusoga that "obwavu lumbe" meaning poverty is death. Women despise their poor husbands, this angers the men into beating them up to humble them."
@ADOVICUganda @UrgentAct https://t.co/RDb4KBltsh
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We had a successful dialogue on GBV in Jinja city. MFA is using edutainment, media and dialogues to fight GBV against women and girls and to promote women's rights at the grassroot levels of the most affected communities. Support from @UrgentAct, we partnered with @ADOVICUganda https://t.co/euKemoAq5h MFAUganda photo
MFA Uganda is using radio & community dialogue to create more platforms for communities especially women to debate and find realistic solutions to confront GBV. This week we are in Jinja for dialogues in partnership with @ADOVICUganda supported by @UrgentAct https://t.co/9E8yTwORli MFAUganda photo
#Media can help! Authorities and duty bearers can reach more audiences through meaningful partnerships and engagement with media to relay urgent information to end #VAG! #ActAgainstGBV https://t.co/6w0GkJJwzf MFAUganda photo