Kenya’s checkered political history should have taught the nation a few important lessons by now,the first being that marginalization and exclusions build up resentment and contempt that explodes at the worst possible moment and the only true safeguard against social upheavals and civil unrest, is a compulsive adherence to the rule of law, which is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy. All Kenyans have the inalienable right to participate in public life on equal terms which includes political activity and elections.
It is incontrovertible that women are integral to our democracy. No nation in the world would consider itself democratic, or at least liberal if women (or any section of society for that matter) were prevented, deliberately or otherwise, from living productive and fulfilling lives and participating in all decision-making. But the electoral landscape in Kenya
The 2017 election year was markedly bad one for the nation, and particularly worse for women. If not sidelined in the political coalitions, women were attacked violently during campaigns and the election, there were reported incidents of domestic and sexual violence revolving around political ideologies or preferences. The last straw must have been the nomination of a list of Cabinet members that was contrary to Article 27 (8) and lacked the requisite 1/3 minimum gender representation.
Liberty is often won through conflict, confrontation and resistance but is only preserved when all persons are held accountable before the same laws applied impartially. When a class of elites circumvents the law, they are jeopardizing the national social cohesion and are eroding the foundations of our democratic state.
Women have been derailed and isolated from the democratic process. There is no audience in national or county leadership for the views of women. In part, the solution must lie in a political agenda that is owned by women. For instance, a women’s manifesto with clear points of actions and strategic demands such as universal healthcare, preferential treatment of women’s businesses and substantive involvement and representation at all levels is extremely important. Kenyan women must own a unique political vehicle just as they continue to excel in the commercial front.
By deliberate design or sheer irreverence, women’s views on the quality of political candidates have been made irrelevant, and their votes have been diluted by a corrupted electoral process. So steep is the financial and social cost of candidacy that many women cannot sustain competitive campaigns and if they are unsuccessful they must suffer shame, debt and in some instances ostracization. These all have the net effect of making politics less accessible to women and finally creating and replicating patriarchal governments in succession. Women are pushed to the far reaches of the political arena and left to fight for scraps or appeasement positions.
The year 2017 marked the second election and swearing in of a legislature that was unconstitutional and therefore, undemocratic. Through the constitutional lens, a body that has more than two thirds representation of a single gender is as good as a dictatorship. Simply put, now women means no democracy.
The women of Kenya must realize that the erosion of one constitutional imperative will herald other greater violations of our supreme law. Kenya is in the throws of a powerful cataclysm and the entire constitutional fabric is being ripped apart by powerful and malevolent forces. A sustainable solution must be found, and women must be part of the process.
What the nation requires going forward is an socio-economic alliance of women that undergirds their legitimate and valid political ambitions. The tide must now turn so that women are so entrenched in business their advancement in the political front is more or less a fait accompli.