Women Aspirant’s Agony in Campaign Trail

Women aspirants in Taita-Taveta County have caucused their male competitors of targeting them with malicious propaganda as a political campaign in the region intensifies.

Most women aspirants, vying for various posts including members of county assembly, Women Representative, Senatorial and Gubernatorial posts, revealed they had become targets of dirty politics from their competitors and detractors, all aimed at making them drop their bids.

Speaking at a women aspirants’ meeting at Voi, it emerged that almost all posters for women political aspirants had been defaced by unknown people.

In other cases, their male competitors placed their posters over the women’s aspirant ones .

Ms. Anne Kina, an aspirant for the senatorial post with KANU party, said women in the region were facing similar challenges as they were being seen as a threat to male dominance in the political arena.

She added that men aspirants were engaging in mud-slinging and character assassination that was meant to demean a female candidate in the eyes of the public.

She urged women to stand up for each other instead of working with men to bring promising candidates down.

We must all be united as women and ensure that we support our own. Our gender identity should be stronger than political affiliations, she said.

The meeting was attended by women aspirants from various political factions including Jubilee, NASA, KANU and Independent candidates.

Those present include Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Jecinta Mwatela who is gunning for gubernatorial post under the Amani National Congress (ANC) party.

Others are Pricillah Mwangeka who is running for Women Representative under the Wiper Party and Anisa Mwakio who is running for the same post under ODM

Taveta MP Naomi Shaaban and Women Representative Joyce Lay were represented.

Over 40 women aspiring for MCA’s position in the region were also present.

The meeting was organised by Men for Gender Equality Now under the Women Political Representation Enhanced Programme.

The programme is funded by European Union and is meant to empower women by capacity-building them in terms of skills and education to increase their visibility in political field.

Other candidates complained of deliberate efforts to intimidate them to drop their bids.

Ms. Irene Mjomba, an independent MCA aspirant in Chawia ward in Mwatate, complained that her house was broken into and property vandalised by gangs she suspected were hired by her rivals.

She said they might have been looking for her IEBC clearance certificate.

They came and tore up everything. I am convinced they were looking for my clearance certificate to destroy it and force me to stop contesting but I will not be barred, she said.

Mrs Jecinta Mwatela shocked the meeting after revealing that a male gubernatorial aspirant has been spreading rumours that she was terminally ill and would die any time after people voted for her.

She termed such malicious rumours as a preserve of candidates with no agenda and stated she would not be cowed.

She added that women needed to be strong and assertive as they articulated their agendas to ensure they created a political space in the area.

Jecinta is the only woman vying for gubernatorial post in the region while the other seven candidates are men.

She stated that she was not intimidated by the enormous responsibilities vested on the post of governor arguing that while at CBK, she was overseeing hundreds of billions of shillings; money meant for Kenyan economy.

I have proven that I am the most capable of all candidates. Out of fear, one of my competitors is claiming I will die as soon as I am elected. He is not God to know when anyone will die, she stated.

The women candidates further pledged to do joint campaigns to boost their presence at the grassroots level.

They also promised to share information about meetings and other public forums where they would articulate their issues.

Mr. Alfred Makabira, County Programmes Officer with Men for Gender Equality Now said the women have massive potential to determine political direction of the country and called for more active involvement in public policy formulation. He urged them to work closely with each other to ensure gender issues were well handled.

It is only through cooperation that the underlying desire for women empowerment and emancipation will be achieved, he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency