Hooliganism, tokenism and complacency have been identified as the main hurdles which impede women and youth from actively participating in the country’s electoral processes.
By Lilian Mwangi
The youth have been identified as targets for meaningless engagements by political leaders which distract them from engaging in crucial governance and legislative issues.
These are among the top issues which were deliberated at a forum organized by Oxfam in partnership with the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (FIDA) and Youth Agenda in which they discussed cultural, structural and economic barriers which impede women and the youth from participating in electoral processes.
Women and the youth were identified as random followers of political parties since they lack strategies to enable them raise funding for political activities including campaigns.
Over the years, Kenya has experienced a low number of women elected into political leadership positions. According to a data fact sheet published by AMWIK, Kenya has the lowest political representation of women in Africa at 19.7 percent. This is lower than that of Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa which are at 35%, 36% and 41.9% respectively. Rwanda currently has the highest political representation of women at 63.8%.
Moreover, the Kenyan Parliament has 418 members, out of which only 86 are women. Out of the 290 constituency seats, only 16 are occupied by women. These grave statistics put to light the need for encouraging more women and youth to participate in the electoral process.
AMWIK, which has in the past been involved in projects to empower women to participate in governance issues, participated in the forum which was convened to deliberate on key messages and possible strategies to influence the electorate and policy makers and influencers to support the cause.
Among the recommendations made was to educate the youth on the importance of electing women into leadership as well as to have women leaders as role models for the youth.
During the forum, the three partners launched a project aimed at increasing women participation and representation in the 2017 general elections in Kenya. The project will be implemented in five counties including Nairobi, Turkana, Wajir, Nakuru and Kisii. It culminated in the creation of a slogan, Vijana Uongozi ni Sasa, Jipe Shughuli na Siasa, which will be used to drive the agenda while implementing the project.