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Female leader on mission to promote inclusivity of vulnerable groups

A nominated Member of the County Assembly in Uasin Gishu, Regina Chumba has come out to advocate for equality and freedom from discrimination especially for women with disabilities.

Chumba who represents the affairs of the community of people with disabilities (PWDs) said women with disabilities failed to take part in leadership because of the stigmatization from the society as they were perceived as unequal and do not possess the capability to lead as compared to abled people.

She said her decision to aspire for a political seat was inspired by her experience after seeing various forms of discrimination especially against PWD women.

“And all the way through, it has not been easy. We have got a lot of discrimination. At times people feel that PWDs, especially women, are not supposed to represent themselves in terms of appointive, nominative and elective positions, and I got the feeling and strength that I should come out to speak out for our people who are vulnerable,” she noted.

The Constitution of Kenya (CoK 2010) Article 27 on Equality and Freedom from Discrimination, Section (3) Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres and (4) the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

“After the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, I felt that there was a consideration for us PWDs and that we need to be represented that is how I got motivation to vie for MCA seat for Segero/Barsombe ward in 2022.  I did not win but secured it through nomination,” added Chumba.

She mentioned that she received sensitization which sharpened her skills as a human rights’ defender especially for people with disabilities after she joined and worked with the Civil Societies Organizations networks on matters of human rights especially for PWDs.

The MCA called for support from other well-wishers to strengthen her efforts in championing for the rights of the vulnerable in the society.

“There is a lot of discrimination. People think that as women with disability, we are not supposed to be heard, we are not suitable to be trusted with leadership roles,” she explained.

Chumba alluded that leadership does not matter in terms of one’s status in the society, whether married, physically fit, it is all about the leadership skills the person possesses and his charisma to reach out to the constituents and support their needs.

“First of all as a woman with disability and a single mother, they will first ask you where is your husband, they perceive that if one has a husband it is more secure, protected and has somebody behind to give her counsel,” noted Chumba.

Other forms of discrimination that the nominated MCA underscored were patriarchy in the society where women generally are placed in the lower class, they are not accorded any right to own property, or make decisions among others.

She said the scenario undermines PWDs women to come out to participate in leadership and development programmes in the society.  

“People think that those who go for leadership positions must have a lot of money. In addition to that, as we are living in a patriarchal society where men own almost all the property, so if you come out for these positions yet you have nothing you are victimized and despised as not suitable due to your humble societal status,” explained MCA.

She further advocated for sensitization and education of women living with disabilities to empower and encourage them to come out and take part in leadership both at the grassroot up to the national level.

In order to encourage and promote participation of more women in leadership, Chumba is advocating for empowerment especially for women with businesses, where she is currently fighting for them to have tax free business licenses in CBD.

Her call to all women PWDs is that they are all like others; they should not feel discriminated against and must remain strong enough to face all forms of discrimination and hold ground to do that which they believe is good and of benefit to the members of the community.

Chumba commended the support from the County Assembly which has enabled them make some remarkable achievements in terms of passing motions concerning the affairs of the people with disabilities.

“The Assembly is very supportive especially for women with disabilities. We have so far successfully passed three motions. In the first sitting of the County Assembly, I moved the first motion, to compel the county government to do mapping for PWDs in order to have accurate data in terms of their total population, how many of them are employed in the county, how many in school and skilled so that if there are employment opportunities, they are given a chance,” she noted.

By Ekuwam Sylvester

 

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