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Women in leadership: focus on Kenya's general elections
With the Kenya elections just weeks away, preparations are in top gear as the country heads towards its first general elections under the new constitution. The new voting process requires voters to fill in six elective positions namely president, county governor, county senator, member of the national assembly, women representative and county representative. In the past, general elections in Kenya have been used to elect the President, members of Parliament and Councilors representing civic wards.
Partnering with the Civil Society Organisations Network and Women in Fishing Industry Programme (WIFIP) in Kisumu and Migori counties of Nyanza region, ACORD has been involved in the electoral process since November 2011 promoting the inclusion of more women into leadership positions. In June 2012, the partners organised a major walk along the streets of Kisumu, which gave women aspiring for leadership positions, many of them for the first time, the opportunity to sell their development manifestoes. The event was attended by Hon. Phoebe Asiyo, a former member of parliament and a champion for women's rights.
Some of the challenges currently facing most women aspirants include direct and indirect intimidation by their male competitors, with occasional violent attacks reported. It is also not clear what formula is being used to set up the political parties' nomination schedules, an issue further complicated by the coalition arrangements in place. Most female aspirants also lack necessary information including where the nomination processes are expected to take place.
ACORD and its partners are addressing some of these challenges by identifying the most effective channels to disseminate electoral nomination information. The partners are planning to liaise with political parties in the Nyanza region where ACORD is working with women aspirants to inform party members where nominations will take place and also provide civic education to aspirants and officials. They will use local FM radio stations to inform all members about nomination procedures and also provide useful telephone contacts that people can call to get information. During the radio talks, they also intend to urge party members to nominate more women to guarantee that more women will be on the ballot paper come 4th of March 2013 and thus giving them the opportunity to take up leadership.