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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Yesterday, Kisumu MCA - Pamela Odhiambo worked with the women to develop ground strategies for local elections which included dealing with opposition and attacks based on gender.

#WomenConnect #ElectionsKE2022 #SheCanLead #EqualityMatters #CFLI #CanadaFund https://t.co/3J7aVUQB9N https://t.co/StHieCEfqa
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Media Focus on Africa @Media_Focus
We are in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is mentoring the women & sharing tips to help them navigate their way up. Thank you @K24Tv for highlighting the forum https://t.co/yctJ93A3Su

#SheCanLead #EqualityMatters #CFLI https://t.co/vvPBfPZNN8

We are in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is mentoring the women & sharing tips to help them navigate their way up. Thank you @K24Tv for highlighting the forum https://t.co/yctJ93A3Su

#SheCanLead #EqualityMatters #CFLI https://t.co/vvPBfPZNN8
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23 women including current governors, women MPs and professionals have declared interest in running for the governors sit in the 2022 Kenya elections. Learn more from @NationAfrica

#ElectionsKE2022 #SheCanLead #EqualityMatters #WomenConnect https://t.co/sFwFBEccwA

One vote matters, your vote matters! There are many elections that have been decided by only a few votes and yours can help propel the right candidate who believes and works for equality and development for all. Register to vote #ElectionsKE2022 #EqualityMatters #ECVR2021 #CFLI https://t.co/ANhHLd3VEK Media_Focus photo

A malaria vaccine has been sought for many years and finally one has now been approved by WHO. A big breakthrough in the fight against the killer disease. https://t.co/fIh4ANQBhx Media_Focus photo

Ongoing https://t.co/KerEuBnEWk
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ActionAid Kenya @ActionAid_Kenya
Register to engage with our guest speakers during our main event tomorrow beginning 5 pm EAT.

Theme: wo/men participation in political spaces amidst the current environment. #FOAA

https://t.co/ptuw9bSuOx https://t.co/n2c2sQ9hg4

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HIGHLIGHTS: #DYK Cartoons tell alot of stories sometimes even morethan words? At the #EASTFest21 was an exhibition
@jana https://t.co/EsisIMvtz7
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HIGHLIGHTS: Paraphrase: at the #EASTFest21
It is more natural to discuss topics you are passionate about. This is even more engaging! It's a point to note to journalists.
@janajwang @AbahoEdward5 @RuthNagudi @MusinguzOscar @nbstv @Iam_solomon_kis @WatumK https://t.co/20zFHPXrBv https://t.co/terOM59Kgy
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"Before you share a viral social media video, have you verified it? There is no way a media house can do away with "VERIFICATION" and think you are on a safe side."
- Mary. N. Kalundu at the #EASTFest2021 https://t.co/EBTawiYBol
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"Journalism is a discipline of verification. We can't air anything that are not verified." - Mary. N. Kalundu at the #EASTFest21 https://t.co/Ukd5hzpKn6 MFAUganda photo

The debate on skilling journalists- young people think there is ‘too much theory’ in university compared to the practical skills! Collaboration between the industry and training institutions is key! #EASTFest21 @mcimediahub @IMChallengeug @AKUMediaFutures https://t.co/C6kJHAfB2N MFAUganda photo