MALE DOMINATION

Kisii, Nyamira women in politics considered loose — report

Residents in both counties know it is important to have both men and women in leadership, but are rooted in patriarchy.

In Summary

• For women, venturing into politics is an uphill task because culturally women have very little backing from their families and clan members.

• Women who had vied said they were being intimidated and facing backlash from their male counterparts.

TWO WEEKS IN WARDS: Kisii assembly on April 24 last year.
TWO WEEKS IN WARDS: Kisii assembly on April 24 last year.

Women who engage in politics in Kisii and Nyamira are considered to have loose morals, according to a recent study conducted in the two counties.    

The report by Echo Network Africa on the status of women's political leadership also says that the belief that men always assume dominant positions has inhibited participation. 

A lack of financial support and violence have also caused women in Kisii and Nyamira counties shy from politics. 

Despite the people of both counties knowing it is important to have both men and women in political leadership, they are rooted in patriarchy. 

 

The survey published in December last year had 422 respondents where 55.9 per cent were male and 44.1 per cent were women.

According to the report, for women, venturing into politics is an uphill task because culturally women have very little backing from their families and clan members.

In particular, women lack support from political parties, logistical support, campaign, and manifesto training, and are threatened with violence, and sexual harassment from their male counterparts.

For instance, in Abagusii culture, the woman's principal role is believed to be in the kitchen hence women in politics will not respect their husbands. 

"Other views indicated that a political woman is synonymous with a morally loose woman," reads the report.

The report also shows that despite women highly participating in the commercial sector, they are limited because they do not own land or other economic assets.

 

Data from the Federation of Women Lawyers shows women hold only one per cent of land titles on their own and five per cent own land with their husbands.

Violence against women in the Abagusii community arose from the need of men to constantly affirm their masculinity because they feel it is threatened.

The violence is not only in private spaces but also extends to public spaces with victims rarely receiving sympathy, the report says. 

"Electioneering is one area where women, are targeted and intimidated through violence. The violence not only takes the form of physical abuse but also emotional and psychological abuse," the report reads.

Political parties were faulted for failing to implement gender equality in political processes because they are in the game of political contests.

Each political party has a principal objective of consolidating its base and power, by winning as many seats as possible. They, therefore, are likely to pick male candidates over female ones. 

Also, women who had vied said they were being intimidated and facing backlash from their male counterparts.

This is because they are viewed as threats due to the closeness to the ground and the strategy was to cut them to size before they grow too big.

"Sexual harassment what was termed as 'sex for nomination' was also quite rampant where women are asked for sexual favours in exchange for nomination into the party," reads the report. 

The report recommends investment towards political and civic education, empowering influential women in the communities to vie, and capacity building for women interested in politics. 

"There is a need to drive demand and hold accountable institutions mandated to engage in politics enhance gender equality compliant in public leadership 

Especially in politics starting with political parties and their registration office," reads the report.