Senator Harris an inspiration to women globally

Sunday, August 16th, 2020 00:00 | By
US President Joe Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris PHOTO/COURTESY

American Democratic Party nominee and former Vice-President Joe Biden fulfilled his promise and nominated a woman as his running mate.

And true, the nomination of California Senator Kamala Harris was historic. Harris is a woman of many firsts.

She has been a county district attorney for San Francisco - the first woman of colour to hold the position.

If Biden wins the November elections, Harris will be the first Black woman to serve as deputy president.

The 55-year-old lawyer becomes just the third woman to be selected to run as vice president on a major party ticket.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (2008) and New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 are the other two.

But more critical for Harris is the fact that Bidden invited her to the ticket despite the fact that she was his fiercest critic during the party primaries in which she had offered herself for nomination as the presidential candidate.

It was an act of political maturity and grace by Biden who had himself been nominated as running mate by former President Barack Obama despite running against him in the primaries. 

This should serve as a lesson to Kenyan politicians. Operating in an environment where political mobilisation largely revolves around ethnicity, local politicians should realise competition must not translate into hatred. That there should be room for healthy political competition as a constructive enterprise that serves public interest.

Indeed, elections should be regarded as platforms that reward talent, expand democracy and ensure that citizens decide on their leadership.

And though Kenya’s political environment is dramatically different from America’s there should be an effort to a create an environment that encourages cooperation and that compromise is not a weakness.

Moreover, while Harris merited the position because of her political experience, the issue of gender cannot be ignored.

Decades of marginalisation and discrimination by highly patriarchal societies have been major impediments to women seeking to ascend to positions of leadership.

No doubt, Biden’s decision is a shot in the arm for women leadership and should serve as an inspiration to other leaders across the world, including Kenya.

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