Western women seek to break jinx

Friday, August 27th, 2021 02:00 |
Dr. Julia Ojiambo. Photo/Courtesy

Dennis Lumiti

Two women from the Western region have staked their necks out in an attempt to break the political jinx by being elected constituency Members of Parliament in the next General Election.

 No woman has ever been elected to represent a constituency in Kakamega, Vihiga and Bungoma counties.

 It is only in Busia where voters have previously elected three women, Prof Julia Ojiambo (Funyula), Christine Mango (Butula) and Mary Emasse who represented Teso South in the last Parliament. 

 Only three women were elected as Members of the Kakamega County Assembly in 2017, out of the 60 wards.

 They are Gladys Malenya of Idakho North (Ikolomani), Heleminah L’lanziva (Isukha North in Shinyalu) and Godliver Omondi of Kholera in Matungu.  Omondi served as a Nominated Senator in 2013 to 2017 but opted to vie for the lesser seat in the elections.

 No woman has declared any interest in the gubernatorial or senatorial seat in the three counties as at now.

 And only two women have shown interests in a parliamentary seat, so far. A majority of aspirants seeking political positions in the next elections want to be Women Reps. 

 In Kakamega, they include Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, a former county employee Peninah Mukabane, a former radio presenter Lydia-Inyangala and businesswoman Hadijah Nganyi. The seat is currently held by Elsie Busihili Muhanda.

Triple energy

 Jackline Okanya, a Nominated Ward Rep, says she will defy odds and battle out  for Mumias West parliamentary seat held by MP Johnstone Naicca.

 Okanya will also face it out with former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and businessman Festo Fadamula.

 “Women put in triple energy to win a political seat and that is why most of my colleagues have shied away.

But I am in the boiler room and I believe I will break the record by being the first woman to get the opportunity to represent a constituency in Kakamega,” said Okanya.

 Lawyer Harriet Chiggai is the only female aspirant for a parliamentary seat and is seeking to replace MP Ayub Savula in Lugari. 

Local political analysts and a cross-section of leaders from were yesterday divided over the reason why voters have been reluctant to vote for women to represent constituencies.

Chiggai said she was out to demystify the myth that women can not lead effectively.

“We are the majority and know what ails our people. My main goal is to be elected then perform well so as to inspire other women to seek elective seats,” she told the People Daily. The lawyer is seeking the ANC ticket to vie for the seat.

Prof Ruth Oniang’o, a  distinguished  nutritionist, and Prof Shanyisa Khasiani,  a respected mediator,  are among the very few women who tried their hands in politics in the past but did not succeed.

 “I wanted to vie for the Lurambi parliamentary seat in 2002 but was reminded that I was their daughter but married elsewhere,” said   Oniang’o, a former Nominated MP. 

Last minute

 Khasiani vied for the Senate seat in 2013, which was won by Boni Khalwale. 

She had campaigne on an ODM banner and watched in disbelief as her party scuttled her bid for senator at the last minute by openly declaring support for Cyrus Jirongo of the Federal Party — a Coalition for Reforms and Democracy partner. 

She contested the Shinyalu seat but lost to Kizito Mugali.

 She went back to the university to teach.  “A majority of our women fear joining politics because of stereotypes.

I was called all sorts of names when I was vying for the Isukha South Ward seat in the last elections,” said Margaret Mmuka, a  businesswoman. 

 “Women have to go through a lot to make it in politics. If you are married you must start by convincing your husband but even once he assents, you will encounter a lot of hostilities out there,” she added.

 Sentiments were echoed by Malenya, who said:   “I was frustrated during the campaigns but weathered the storm.

I grew up watching how the late Martin Shikuku conducted his campaigns. I also have an understanding husband who urged me on,” she said.

 She pointed out that many women in the county and entire region fear vying for positions and would rather be just campaigners or voters of male aspirants.

 “Nearly all my fellow women in the Assembly are nominated but very few want to try their hand in elective politics. It is a sad state of affairs,” she added.

 Kakamega County Assembly Speaker Morris Indakwa Buluma said many of the Nominated femake MCAs were good performers but wondered why they were not interested in seeking elective positions in the next polls.

Nominated MCA Lucie Mugalla, who is gunning for elective politics next year, said she had chosen to ignore insults and mudslinging and focus on the ultimate prize.

Supportive family

 “My opponents have and will continue to call me all kinds of names but I will let the voters to decide.

I thank God that I have a very strong and supportive family,” she said. She is seeking the Idakho East Ward seat, in Ikolomani.

 Former MCA of the Ward Isabella Mung’asia served for one term between 2013 and 2017 but opted not to seek re-election “for personal reasons”.

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