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FIDA Engaging Women to Eliminate Barriers on Taking Political Leadership

Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA Kenya) is engaging with the female leaders and citizens, to enlighten and make them understand their role in the democratic process and also for the women leaders to have the courage to interact with the public and take up political leadership.

The ongoing town hall meetings bring together FIDA, women leaders and grassroots women to interact and discuss the role of the citizens when it comes to promoting women in political participation.

FIDA Kenya programme Officer Virginia Kibunja, speaking in a meeting in Kirinyaga West Sub-County, said with support from other partners such as USAID and ElGIA, they have initiated a project that works towards eliminating the barriers that hinder the participation of women in politics.

“So today we are here to understand what is Kirinyaga doing in terms of promoting women in political participation, and what barriers are they experiencing, and how best they can be solved in order to increase the number of women joining political leadership in this region,” Ms Kibunja said.

She noted that from the forum they identified two major constraints that women experience in taking political and social economic leadership; financial constraints, and also the cultural or social norms that impact how they relate with the society.

“A lot of women will say that when it comes to even campaigning, it’s a big challenge because the funds are required for campaign, they do not have those funds. So now when it comes to going to the ground, the participants or at least the voters are not willing to listen without that token,” she added.

And then the second issue is the cultural norms that present a challenge for them in gaining support even from their own spouses when it comes to campaigning or participating in politics.

“We are also understanding that there is a need for sensitization when it comes to eliminating some of these retrogressive norms that tend to hinder their participation. We work towards promoting the rights of women in all spheres of life, including socio-political and economic fields,” noted Kibunja.

FIDA’s biggest aspect is promoting the rights of women, especially in the political sphere. There’s also the idea that women who participate in politics are considered morally lose, just because they have to engage with a lot of voters. There is a lot of sensitizations that needs to be done, and we also hope to achieve this through a lot of grassroots activities, she said.

One of the participants from Kirinyaga County, Doreen Wakio, said engaging women at the grassroots would raise their morale in taking up the challenge.

She noted that with female leadership in Kirinyaga County spearheaded by the county governor, it has given many women hope as her work was visible apart from mentoring other female leaders.

Wakio said the major challenge limiting women in Kirinyaga County participation in politics was finances.

“Women willing to join politics should have confidence and courage. I still urge FIDA to continue sensitizing women in our county and beyond,” Wakio noted.

By Mutai Kipngetich

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