August 9

UDA dominates list of women governor hopefuls

Friday, June 24th, 2022 05:00 | By
Some of the female candidates on the UDA ticket: Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Kilifi Woman Rep Aisha Jumwa, and Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire.
Some of the female candidates on the UDA ticket: Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Kilifi Woman Rep Aisha Jumwa, and Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire.

At least 10 women are running for governor, the highest number since 2013.

In the 2017 election, three women were elected governor while none won the top county’s seat in 2013.

Ahead of an election that is seen to be a defining moment for women's leadership, leading presidential candidates, Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya Kwanza and Azimio-One Kenya’s Raila Odinga, have been competing on who is the better champion of women's interests.

Raila has picked Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua as his running mate while Ruto has pledged that half of his Cabinet positions would go to women if he is elected president.

Ruto party’s, the United Democratic Alliance, has also nominated the highest number of women to run for governor. He has promised that the party will ensure at least five of them win in August.

UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina yesterday said those vying for governor on the party’s ticket are competent.

Political goodwill

She also expressed confidence that the party will achieve the target of five governors in the next election.

“This is achievable. With the political goodwill of the party leaders, it is possible to have at least five women from UDA being governors. As Kenya Kwanza we have done this deliberately because we believe women are capable of running counties. We must look at women’s contribution to development and leadership holistically, not from occupation of one position,” she told People Daily.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, who is one of the women running on a UDA ticket, is seeking to defend her seat.

She ousted the first area Governor Joseph Ndathi in the 2017 election when she vied with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

Although she has had to fight corruption allegations that have dogged her since she resigned as Devolution Cabinet Secretary in 2015, and during her tenure as governor, including surviving impeachment by a whisker in 2020, she is hoping for re-election. She is competing against her arch-rival, County Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici (Independent), Senator Charles Kibiru (Jubilee) and former Governor Ndathi (TSP).

Ngirici is one of two candidates running on an independent ticket, the other being Meru Woman Representative Mwangaza Kawira who wants to be the county’s governor.

Other candidates

Other female candidates on the UDA ticket are Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Kilifi Woman Rep Aisha Jumwa, and Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire, who has set her eyes on the Embu governor’s seat and Kwale Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani who wants to replace her outgoing boss Salim Mvurya.

Rebecca Ghati is a UDA governor candidate in Migori County, a region ODM enjoys a huge following.

“I want to demystify the notion that Nyanza is an ODM zone. It is not true. As a woman from Kuria, a minority community, I want to assure you that I will be the governor of Migori in August,” said Ghati.

Other than the governor candidates, Ruto has also promised at least 10 Cabinet slots to women if elected in a strategy to counter his rival’s decision to pick a woman as his running mate.

“Women appreciate the needs of the society, most of them raise families and know the hardships they go through every day that is why the bottom-up economy is more appealing to women,” Maina added.

In terms of numbers, Raila’s ODM has performed dismally compared to UDA in sponsoring governor candidates. The party has managed to field only one candidate, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, who is seeking to become the county’s first woman governor.

Facing the risk of not having a single woman running for governor on the party’s ticket, Raila asked men who were challenging her for the ODM’s ticket to step down in her favour. She is, however, not home and dry as she has to navigate the mounting challenge presented by former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who is vying for the seat as an independent candidate.

Karua pick

Many women in ODM, including Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua, lost in the party primaries.

In Kitui, Azimio spoiled its chances of having another woman contesting for the governor’s post when it withdrew Governor Charity Ngilu from the race.

Despite this, Raila has promised to ensure women are at the centre of his administration, saying picking Karua was the first of his efforts to involve them in his government.

On the campaign trail, he has been touting his decision to pick  Karau and challenging women to reciprocate by voting for him in large numbers in the August 9 election.

“I have done my part. It is now your turn. I want to see women coming out to support us…we will not stop with the deputy president. They can also become President,” he said in Narok a few days after settling on the Narc Kenya leader as his number two.

The ruling Jubilee Party has not fielded any woman for governor despite having two members (Waiguru and late Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso) winning in 2017.

Initially, the party had hopes in former Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki clinching Nyandarua’s seat but she was implored to step down as the President’s outfit sought to avoid a brutal contest for the ticket with sitting Governor Francis Kimemia.

Wiper Party has Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) as the only woman candidate for governor countrywide.

In Taita Taveta, Patience Nyange is vying for the governor’s seat on Narc's ticket.

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