Kenya’s election, which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected with 54% of the vote, the women representation in parliament has also increased by six from 16 in 2013 to 23 in the 2017 elections. Kenyan women are scaling the heights of leadership in the country and on the international circuit. We have more women in the Cabinet in our history under the watch of IEBC and Kenyans as a whole.
Women played an important role in this election. As voters, more women accounted for the 9.4 million or 47% of voters. This election saw the first election of three female governors, former minister of devolution Anne Waiguru, Joyce Laboso, and Charity Ngilu. In Kirinyanga county Waiguru beat her opponent, Martha Karua another seasoned female politician, with 54% of the vote. Ngilu will be the first female governor of Kitui County in eastern Kenya, while Laboso clinched the Bomet County against Isaac Ruto. The Three women won gubernatorial seats which have always been won by men since the adoption of the new constitution.
Another three women won seats in the 68-member Senate, making them the first women to be elected in the lower house of parliament. It consists of 47 elected and 21 appointed including the 16 women, 2 from disabled groups, 2 representing male and female youth and a speaker.
Kenya’s constitution maintains that women occupy a third of parliament seats but the government has been slow to enact the rule. Women won elected seats in Kenya’s legislature for the first time. In this election, three women have taken the elected Senate seats—Margaret Kamar of Uasin Gishu, Susan Kihika of Nakuru, and Isiolo’s Fatuma Dullo. Women have had no elected representation in the Senate but were appointed based on party seat numbers.
Margaret Kamar was unsuccessful in 2013 when she vied for the same seat. She was the director of the International Centre for Research in Sustainable Development and Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology between 2011 and 2013.
Susan Kihika was also unsuccessful in 2013 when she vied for a parliamentary seat. She was the Nakuru County Assembly Speaker before joining the senate race.
Fatuma Dullo had been in the Senate since 2013 when she was nominated by the United Republican Party (URP). She served as a commissioner at the Kenya National Human Rights Commission between 2007 and 2012.
Sophia Abdi Noor, an elected Member of Parliament made history by becoming the first woman from an ethnic Somali background to be elected to parliament. Noor won in Ijara constituency in northeastern Kenya, long considered one of the most marginalized and poorly-developed regions in Kenya. She was also the only woman aspirant in the region to contest for a parliamentary seat.
The marked Progress, a result of years of hard work by different stakeholders in the women’s movement, deserves celebration. Women, hope to have fair listening and inclusiveness at the parliament as they serve the nation better.