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See County that bears only one woman MCA

Traditional cultural beliefs and lack of finances continue to play a big role in barring women in the Abagusii community from taking up elective seats. This is because Gusii traditions dictate that a woman’s role is to look after the home while the husband is the breadwinner.

Women are also not considered in property ownership, particularly land whereby it is very rare to find a woman owning a title deed, and without property, they lack money for conducting campaigns.

This male dominance in Kisii, which is evident even in areas where women are capable of leading from the front, has ensured that very few women find themselves at the top level of decision-making.

One such woman is Mrs Beatrice Makwae who was a political candidate in the August 9th General Election and emerged as the only elected female representative to the Kisii County Assembly despite the county having 45 wards.

Makwae who hails from Ekerenyo village in Nyamira County and is married in the neighbouring Bombaba Borabu Ward, Bomachoge Borabu Constituency in Kisii County, vied for the MCA seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket and captured the seat having garnered 3443 votes.

This was her third attempt at clinching the position and had previously contested and lost the same seat in 2017 and 2013 under the Jubilee and Restore and Build Kenya parties respectively.

The mother of three told KNA that she was issued a direct ticket by the party after his fellow ODM aspirant, Thomas Ontweka, died following a night attack by unknown assailants three days before the party primaries.

“This race was between 11 candidates, including two women and I am happy that I defeated my closest opponent of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party with over 2000 votes,” Makwae noted.

In addition to losing her husband due to Covid-19, Makwae pointed out that she faced several challenges during her campaigns where her opponents alleged that she did not have funds to campaign because she was a widow and would remarry and disappear to the neighbouring counties once elected.

However, she said that her faith in God and trait as a vocal public speaker helped her to propel through these challenges and emerge victorious in the race.

Makwae who also serves as a Deaconess and Treasurer at Riverside Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church near her home, urged women to come out and compete for political seats adding that she is prepared to work for the residents who entrusted her with the position.

“If a woman such as myself who is a widow and petite can be voted as an MCA with a landslide, then any woman is capable of engaging in this field of politics which has been left for the men for the longest time,” Makwae said.

She noted that some of her competitors had congratulated her and promised to work together with them in addressing the challenges that residents continue to face on a daily basis.

The MCA-elect promised to support needy students with bursaries, provide clean water for residents, improve the infrastructure, specifically roads, and create jobs for the people in her ward, all of which are part of her agenda.

Similarly, in 2017, Kisii County Assembly had only one elected woman MCA, Rosa Orondo from Majoge Basi Ward in Bomachoge Chache Constituency, who contested for the seat on an ODM ticket.

She replaced the incumbent, Catherine Manzi of the Kenya Social Congress who was also the only elected female representative from the same Ward in the Assembly in 2013, forcing the county to nominate 23 out of 25 special MCAs so as to meet the one-third gender rule stipulated in the new Constitution.

By Mercy Osongo

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