Nyanza women seek to crack male-dominated political field
Women leaders in Nyanza region have staked their necks out in the fight for critical political seats initially dominated by men.
Those lining up to challenge male dominance include career women politicians who hope to move a notch higher by seeking top seats after serving as Woman Reps.
Others are keen to build fresh careers in politics by battling for parliamentary as well as gubernatorial seats.
Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party which calls the shots in the region, has indicated that it would create a favourable environment for women to compete for the seats with involvement of the party’s Women League.
Several women leaders in the region told People Daily that they are optimistic that they will increase their representation in the next General Election and are already preparing to face their opponents.
Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and her Migori counterpart Pamela Odhiambo, have declared that they will fight for the governorship of their respective counties.
The duo has been traversing their counties for the past three months to drum up support for their candidature.
Odhiambo, who is fighting to succeed Governor Okoth Obado says Nyanza region should consider a competent woman for governorship as there is none at the moment.
“Women have demonstrated that they are capable as political leaders and that is what we want to encourage and prove. As women, we have to rally behind one another, “she told People Daily.
The Woman Rep is preparing to face off with political heavyweights like Senator Ochillo Ayacko, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and former Suna East MP John Pesa.
ODM director of elections Junet Mohammed is also said to be salivating for the seat although he is yet to officially declare his bid to succeed Obado.
Odhiambo says cultural barriers and lack of finances have derailed women’s efforts to land top political seats.
“Male dominance and cultural perspectives that some seats are a reserve for men has dragged us behind. However, it is not going to be the same again in 2022,” she says.
In the larger South Nyanza, several women are hoping to build on the pace set by three women MPs who defied odds to win parliamentary seats in Kabondo-Kasipul, Suba North and Rangwe constituency in the 2017 General Election.
Eve Obara, Millie Odhiambo and Lilian Gogo successfully followed the steps of trailblazers in former Rachuonyo MP Phoebe Asiyo and first female MP Grace Onyango who set the pace for women leadership in the region.
Gogo who is also preparing to fight for another term also said that women in the region, are ready to increase their representation in key seats.
She says that they will ride on their development records to seek re-lection.
“It is important that more women come out and compete for these seats. If we are many, then there is a likelihood that some of us will get something,” she said, adding: “I have been an MP for five years and I am going to defend my seat,” she said.
In Homa Bay, Wanga is also plotting to succeed Governor Cyprian Awiti who is set to retire next year after finishing his two terms.
She will face off with former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata and ODM chairman John Mbadi. Just like Pamela in Migori, Wanga is the only woman interested in the seat.
In Kisumu, a couple of women are also preparing to battle it out for various seats. Several women have already started campaigning for MCA seats.
Millicent Abudho, a 2017 aspirant who unsuccessfully contested the Kisumu Senate seat on a Ford Kenya ticket, is gearing for a comeback in the next General Election.
Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga is optimistic that they will increase the women numbers in the next General Election.
“The performance of women in Parliament has been impressive. They have been very active,” she says.
She is also confident that the two third gender will be met in the next elections.
“In 2022, we are going to elect more women both in the Senate, National Assembly and appointments,” she said.
Citizens Conventions Party leader (CCP) Grace Akumu says women can only increase their numbers in elective posts if they come out to fight for them.
She said that she does not think there would be an increase in the number of women taking up political seats in Nyanza region, because people do not look into leadership credentials but instead focus on politicians who can give hand-outs.
She cited lack of resources as the main challenge women face in their bid to win elective seats.
“I am a leader of a political party which I started with my own resources but unfortunately women would rather go and vie in political parties owned by men.
I thought it was not true at first but it was evident when men stood with my party instead of women,” she says.