Women representation in political life has yet to reach meaningful ratio vis-à-vis their proportion of the nation. Between 1963 and 2013 only 74 women made it to the National Assembly, 49 elected and 25 nominated. The 2013 election in Kenya was the first General Election to incorporate elective and nominated affirmative action seats for women. Due to this framework the number of women contesting for elective seats went up. But the 68 (19%) women in the National Assembly, 18 (27%) women in the Senate and 82 (6%) women directly elected to the County Assemblies are still far below the 33% minimum constitutional requirement.
Media Focus on Africa and FIDA Kenya with the support of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kenya have come together to implement a project whose objective is to contribute to increased gender equality in elected posts in the 2017 General elections. In particular the focus shall be on the elective seats at the county level i.e. MCA and Governor.
The project targets 8 counties namely: Mombasa, Kajiado, Narok, Nandi, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Nyandarua and Kisumu.
A total of 96 female aspirants for MCA and Governor positions from these 8 counties (12 per county) are targeted. The aspirants shall receive a variety of support .
Here are some of the activities that will be undertaken under the project;
- Training the women aspirants in media use and effective campaign skills to help them become more visible and sellable.
- Production and airing of radio shows that discuss women leadership in all its aspects. The aspirants will be put on these radio shows to engage with the electorate and sell their agendas.
- Secondary school debates and essay writing competitions on Women Leadership. Every year about 500,000 female and male youth graduate from high school and become eligible to register as voters. Over one election cycle that is 2.5 million potential voters. It is important to begin changing attitudes and perception towards women leadership from early on and that is the objective of this activity.
- Community leadership roundtables in the counties to encourage community members, especially elders at the local level to adopt women leadership.
- Training for radio show hosts, especially those who host popular morning or evening shows, so that they see the need as well as know how to lead discussions on air that regard women leadership.
- Roundtable meetings with editors of the National and Local media houses. These are the people who determine what goes on air and their support for this cause can lead to a big change in how Kenyans view women leadership as the media is a big influencer of public perceptions.
The project will run up to 2018.