While the political scene is supposed to be constitutionally a neutral platform, things happen differently for both men and women.
Women who engage in politics face an array of challenges compared to their male counterparts, something that has seen a low turnout.
Many women political aspirants have very powerful human interest stories from their experiences but tend to shun the media and they end up not getting any publicity.
Yvonne Okwara, a news anchor and Editor at Kenya Television Network (KTN) news noted with concern on how they had to do a lot of work during the last General Election just to get women on board talk shows and discussion panels.
”I can testify it is really difficult to get women on board as panellists or to feature them. It takes longer to convince women to come for show. Others just start complicating the whole issue forgetting that there is no time and even to justify to our bosses becomes very difficult,” Okwara narrated.
She noted that deliberate efforts need to be made to educate women in politics on the importance of media coverage in the line of work.
“It is the media that puts out people who are not known to be known. Men do this easily but women will always give excuses,” said Okwara.
Dr Jennifer Riria, Chief Executive Officer Kenya Women Holding pointed out how at times media ignored women in politics based on some of the complaints.
Riria said: “The fact that many women usually do not have enough resources to put them out and compete equally with men makes many of them shy away from telling their story.”
She further urged stakeholders to seriously address financial challenges faced by women politicians. “My organisation set aside some resources which we used to train women and got some of them profiled in the media. We are also planning to have a democratic fund specifically set aside for women in politics.”
Riria added: “We have already started preparing for the 2022 General Election and those women who aspire to contest for various positions will be asked to join the fund. This is in readiness to prepare women for elective seats in line with the gender two thirds rule.”
Riria reiterated the need to create new laws to support women’s empowerment adding “what we have is already enough but what we lack is the political will and its implementation”.
She challenged women to identify their leadership potential early and use the media to highlight it long before elections are held.
Prof Kimani Njogu, a media consultant, unveiled a recent study on women and leadership which showed how biased the media was against female candidates.
“We observed a patriarchal media which despite the challenge, can and should be turned into an opportunity to support the gender two thirds rule through their reportage,” noted Njogu.
Now that the General Election is over, it is time for women to take stock of their political future as far as leadership is concerned.
Kenyan women are celebrating the elections of three of their own as governors and another three as senators. These six women made history by being the first women to hold such positions since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. The pioneer three women governors are Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Joyce Laboso (Bomet). The three female Senators are Susana Kihika (Nakuru), Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo).
Out of the 290 elective parliamentary seats, women scooped 22 and another thanks to the creation by the 2010 Constitution of 47 County Women Representatives’ elective seats, 47 were elected. The other six were given through nominations by political parties.
However, the reality is that these numbers are a drop in the ocean and below the two thirds gender rule as entrenched in the Constitution.