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Kenya: Factors Affecting Women's Political representation

Millicent Omanga: Senator, Kenya

Although women make up a significant portion of the population in Kenya, the political representation by women tells a different story. According to the latest census figures, there are 19,192,458 male and 19,417,639 females in Kenya, making women a majority.  

Since independence in 1963 , the political landscape has been dominated by men, right from state house to the grass roots. To a certain extent, the problem can be traced to the foundation of the nation because over 99.5 percent of its founding fathers were men.

Due to the contribution that men made to liberate this nation from colonialism, they have over the years developed a sense of entitlement to political leadership. This feeling of entitlement has made them view their women counterparts as “strangers and intruders” in the political arena. Additionally, other factors also compound this inequality.

For example, the lack of parity in other key areas of empowerment such as education and economic is instrumental in keeping women behind their male counterparts.

Additionally, the tradition has favored the male sex in all matters of leadership. This belief is common across all the ethnic communities because we live in patriarchal society that naturally endorses men for all levels of leadership.

But over the last 15 years, we have made positive strides that have helped to alleviate the problem. One of the biggest milestones that have helped to empower women politically is the new constitutional order the country conceived in the 90’s and actualized in 2010 following the enactment of a new constitution.

Under this new order, women can now enjoy affirmative action that outlaws one gender from having more than a two-third majority at national and local levels. Moreover, the new constitution has made room for special positions that are exclusive to women. The office of the Women Representative is now entrenched in the constitution where 47 women are elected to represent their counties in the National Assembly.

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