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Thursday, July 27, 2017

‘Backward’ customs hurt bids by women

Sophia Abdi.Photo Monicah Mwangi
Sophia Abdi.Photo Monicah Mwangi

Northeastern women aspirants face a myriad of problems in their bids to be elected.

They are subjected to sexual harassment and retrogressive cultural practices that don’t recognise them as leaders.

Besides the woman representative seat, no woman has been elected to Parliament or county assembly. They blame this on “backward traditions that underrate our potential”.

For the upcoming polls, only two women — Sophia Abdinoor (Ijara) and Fatuma Ibrahim (Tarbaj) — are in the race for MP.

Abdinoor, nicknamed “The Iron Lady of Northeastern Politics”, is contesting for the third time, having lost in two previous attempts. In 2013, she lost to incumbent Ibrahim Abass.

Wangechi Gichuki, an MCA candidate with roots in Nyeri, has vowed to square it off with men. She said she is best-placed to tackle residents’ problems because she grew up in Garissa town.

Iftin MCA candidate Mulki Warsame yesterday said culture and religion discourage many women from running.

“Our male rivals campaign on the bases of culture and religion. They invoke marriage issues. If you’ve married in a clan that’s not yours, they are likely to campaign using that,” she said.

“Elders who organised the so-called negotiated democracy gave seats to men only, negatively undermining women seeking elective posts.”

Warsame urged voters to elect women “as we are fair and less corrupt. I want the fruit of devolution to reach people at the grassroots. I’ll introduce necessary bills so we pass laws that directly benefit residents,” she said.

Sangailu MCA candidate Mowsar Abdi shared Warsame’s sentiments, saying through women, residents can realise real and tangible change.

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