AMWIK ‘s Precious Gift to Kisumu Women MCAs

Women On the Move Profile Launched by Kisumu County Govenor H.E Jack Ranguma. The book Profiles Women in the Kisumu County Assembly
Women On the Move Profile Launched by Kisumu County Govenor H.E Jack Ranguma. The book Profiles Women in the Kisumu County Assembly

There’s no doubt female Members of County Assembly (MCAs) of Kisumu, 2013-2017, have achieved such great feat, to be considered celebrities and huge role models in Kenya’s politics.

The 19 female MCAs, among them seven elected members have earned their place to stardom by becoming the first to be profiled in the Kenya’s civic history, courtesy of AMWIK and partners in the Buidling and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Political and Economic Development project who include the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya and Diakonia Kenya.

 

The women MCAs include elected members, Pamela Apondi Omino, Priscah Auma Misachi, Petronilla Apondi, Benter Akinyi Ogolla, Caroline Awino Owen, Nereah

Akoth Okombo and Marlin Akinyi Atieno while nominated ones are Caroline Awuor Agwanda, Carolyne Awuor Ogot, Eunice Miruka, Faridah Ahmed Salim, Jane Atieno Omolo, Lydia Achieng Odhiambo, Lydia Atieno Ndege, Nelly Beldinah Osok, Pamela Akinyi Adhiambo, Pamela Awuor Oyoo, Salome Kamonya Lungafa and Susan Adhiambo Omollo.

 

Hall of Fame

Kisumu has also become a hall of fame, being the first County to register such a milestone, in addition to its unmatched reputation of producing the highest number of elected female MCAs in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution.

Read the stories of these inspiring women in Women on the Move: Women Members of County Assembly of Kisumu 2013-2017, a book published by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), with support from Diakonia-Sweden and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The book was launched by H.E. Governor Jack Ranguma of Kisumu County at a colourful luncheon held at the Tom Mboya Labour College, also attended by his deputy H.E. Ruth Odinga, County Health Executive Dr. Elizabeth Ominde, Diakonia Kenya and FIDA teams, representatives of non-governmental organisations, MCAs, the business community and women and minority groups.

Support for Women MCAs

Governor Jack Ranguma thanked AMWIK and her supporters for the their efforts towards publication of the book and assured the women MCAs of his government’s support.

Recognising women leaders for their consistency and forthrightness, Governor Ranguma noted that their efforts had enabled Kisumu county assembly to achieve stability.

In her address, deputy governor Ruth Odinga noted that Kisumu had become a pivotal point for gender issues. She noted that Kisumu has the highest number of women in the assembly, including seven elected MCAs, having speaker and deputy who are women, a female deputy minority party leader, woman deputy chief whip, four out of ten members of the executive, a third representation of women in the county public service board and a woman deputy governor.

“Kisumu has set an example to show Kenya and whole world that the affirmative rule is necessary, with us being at the helm of having achieved a third representation both in the Assembly and executive.  This is a big feat that will change the political arena in the country. We therefore must seize the opportunity to work and justify why women should be elected to these positions, using Kisumu as the best example.

Ms. Odinga urged the MCAs to ensure that all laws formulated to improve the lives of women, youth and disabled in the county are implemented and further advised women to work towards empowering and supporting each.

County Health Executive, Dr. Elizabeth Ominde posed the question: “How do we view ourselves and our lives as women. If we have a negative view of ourselves, that determines how we act; we will act as victims and people who do not have anything to offer. If we view ourselves as empowered leaders who are partnering with our male colleagues in the community, we will create a transformed society.”

AMWIK’s advice

AMWIK Chairperson Pamela Mburia thanked the Governor for supporting women and further urged women leaders to strongly articulate issues in society to make their presence felt.

Recognizing Kisumu women leaders for setting a good example to be emulated in many generations to come, Pamela urged the women MCAs to share their experiences and success with other women in the country to ensure more access leadership.

Noting that AMWIK has trained many women in current and past parliaments on how to effectively deal with media, which has seen them excel in politics, Pamela called for increased collaborations among non-governmental organisations and media towards supporting women to leadership.

“Women need to think of how to move forward in the society. But, do not forget that media is part of your moving forward. Women need to work, not just for our image but also looking at the issues, because the people who elected us expect us to represent them and this will determine whether they bring us back. This (record) will also determine whether other women will get elected. You need to be the ones that set the bar.”

The chairperson said women cannot afford to have divisive politics when it comes to issues and stressed the need for women to have a common stand regardless of party issues.

“Women need to demonstrate that they too have what it takes and can make good leaders when given the opportunity. Women also need to work with media, but always be sure what we are talking about.  We must keep the standards high and lay ground for election of more women.”

Happy to be profiled

The women MCAs present expressed their gratitude to AMWIK for building their capacity and helping them to stand boldly before various audiences to articulate their issues.

The women said by documenting their journeys, AMWIK had enabled them to be visible in the society.

 KICAWOCA

The event gave the women MCAs a perfect opportunity to market their outfit, the  Kisumu County Assembly Women Caucus (KICAWOCA). Nominated MCA and KICAWOCA’s Coordinator, Hon. Faridah Ahmed Salim articulated the caucus’ vision of ensuring an empowered, gender sensitive and all-inclusive county assembly through ensuring good governance and mainstreaming of gender issues in all the assembly’s undertakings.

Hon. Salim urged Kisumu government to work with the team to ensure effective policies that are gender responsive, putting emphasis on gender responsive budgeting for the smooth operation of county affairs.

She requested the governor for an allocation of funds from the county kitty to boost activities of KICAWOCA.

 

Access to Information Improves Women’s Participation in Governance

Access to information is a fundamental human right and is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right of access to information improves governance and lives as it assists public administration to become more transparent and accountable. It also enables citizens to engage more meaningfully in public life, understand policies, help determine public priorities, and use the information to ensure the exercise of their other human rights, including the rights to clean water, a safe environment, and education.

 

To this effect, AMWIK is working with community groups in Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties to help them access information and enhance their participation in the devolved system of government.

 

In projects supported by various donors, including the Ford Foundation, Diakonia Sweden and KIOS Finland, AMWIK specifically targets women groups who use the power of information to fight ignorance in their communities. With the knowledge shared the women have collectively raised governance issues with their respective County governments.

 

In Kwale’s Kinango Constituency, women groups are using the knowledge on women land rights to campaign for women property and inheritance rights. Naomi Kilonzo, the Chairlady of Kawia Ufike women group was appointed by the community members to represent them in the lands and surveying committee in the Ministry of lands. Naomi has succeeded in addressing two land disputes for women who had court battles with their brothers and ex husbands over their inherited and matrimonial property.

 

In Kilifi County, women in Malindi Constituency have been able to campaign against gender based violence by following up on rape cases with the local authorities and ensuring the perpetrators are bought to book. They have been involved in giving motivational talks to girls on the importance of education to retain more girls in schools who have dropped out due to early pregnancies.

 

In Tana River’s Garsen Constituency, women identified access to health services as a development challenge and have approached the county government to upgrade the health centers in their county. The women groups have engaged with their Member of County Assembly to prioritise health issues in their wards especially the construction of maternity wards. They have also embarked on preaching peace messages in their respective areas because conflict has been a challenge for them.

 

In Moyale Constituency, Marsabit County, the women identified lack of safe drinking water as a key developmental challenge. The women and children have contracted water borne disease because they only have one dam supplying the entire Sololo town which is shared by both domestic and wild animals. They women have approached the Member of County Assembly in their ward to address the water issues with proposals to construct a water tank and have treated water pumped into it so that the women can fetch safe drinking water.

Ramata ‘Silanga’ a health disaster for Sololo residents

By Benard Ogoi

 

A seasonal dam at the hill slopes of Sololo town, Moyale Constituency

A seasonal dam at the hill slopes of Sololo town, Moyale Constituency

Access to clean and safe water is one of the economic and social rights enshrined in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. Without such, the ability to enjoy reasonable standards of sanitation as well as credible health standards becomes untenable. In essence, a population that struggles to access clean water is prone to unprecedented health problems, which then bears heavily on their economic might.

This has been the situation in Sololo town, Moyale Constituency where both domestic and wild animals compete with the residents for a share of the scarce water from Ramata Dam to quench their thirst after a long days search for pasture.

The dam popularly known as ‘Silanga’ therefore means more than just a dependable water point as residents associate it with unmatched cases of diarrhea and other water borne diseases.

A herder in Sololo location, Moyale Constituency

A herder in Sololo location, Moyale Constituency

 

Surprisingly, even women have defied the dangers of drinking or cooking using the water without treating, ignoring even the most basic water treatment process, boiling. Instead they argue that, “Boiled water has a bad odour which discourages us from taking it,” says Elizabeth, revealing the consequence of the contaminated water in her hands. “I was recently admitted in hospital for five days after I was diagnosed with stomachache,” she explains.

It is a situation that Fatuma Wario describes as most wanting especially for the women who have tolerated water borne diseases since independence. “We are always affected but we have no capacity to do anything,” she remarks.

Fatuma Wario of Borole women group explaining a point on the water scarcity

Fatuma Wario of Borole women group explaining a point on the water scarcity

Joseph Galgalo, a victim of the unhygienic water blames it all on their behavior. “Most of us take the water in raw form thus contributing to cases of diarrhea and typhoid in our families,” he explains, adding that they normally don’t boil the water despite firewood being in plenty in the area. “Sololo is hot and boiled water is difficult to cool in readiness for drinking,” remarks Hassan Halkano, another resident of the town.

According to Martha Jilo, Sololo women group chairlady, “We know the water is harmful but we have no choice. We have to use the water every day since it is the only hope for us.” Martha who once suffered from Typhoid declares, “It is difficult to boil water for over 10 people in the home,” adding, “…. so we just take it as it is despite the dangers.” Like most residents, she has no time to fetch enough firewood for boiling the water.

They are also skeptical about using water guard due to high costs and cultural beliefs. They have no choice but to continue taking it raw. “Most shops don’t even stock the product due to low demand by the residents,” remarks Halkano. He says poverty among locals has made shopkeepers in Sololo town not to stock water-guard in their shops. While concurring with him, Galgalo says the smell of chlorine is also unpleasant to most of them. But even disheartening is that some culturally believe that chlorine is itself unhealthy and therefore unacceptable, making water treatment untenable.

This scenario depicts lack of information on prudent and safe use of water for domestic consumption in the area that largely experiences dry spells.

To ensure environmental sustainability is achieved in line with goal number seven of the MDGs, the Constitution in Article 70 provides for redress mechanisms that would ensure access to a clean environment. This also includes the ability of communities to access clean water for domestic use. “People need relevant information on the importance of treating water before use,” says Galgalo.

The residents have urged the National and County governments to support them by drilling enough boreholes that can help them access clean and safe water for domestic consumption. “If a common tank can be built and water treated in it then it can be good for the community,” says Galgalo.

AMWIK Publishes Book On Women MPs

Book Journey to LeadershipThe book reveals that whilst sheer poverty interrupted the education of some of Kenya’s brightest women MPs, such as Hon Kilimo; others studied for doctorates at the world’s top universities. It discloses that whilst some came from privileged backgrounds, others, such as televangelist Hon Margaret Wanjiru, started their careers cleaning toilets and offices.

“One does not need a name, a husband, money or anything to get political leadership.” confirms Hon Rachel Shebesh in the book. She cites hard work as the most important factor. Hon Shebesh sacrificed her successful design company to work in Kasarani community. “No woman MP just happens”, she said.

The book similarly catalogues the challenges the women have faced, in order to succeed in a male-dominated profession. It records, for example, how when Gender Minister, Hon Naomi Shaban, first tried to run for office, her local council of Elders refused to support her, believing a woman incapable of addressing the urgent issues of land ownership in their area. They sent a delegation to Nairobi to urge KANU not to let her run on their ticket. The Elders got their wish but Hon. Shaban persisted. She now sits in Kenya’s Cabinet. “Politics is not the preserve of men.”says the Minister.

The book also shows that many women have juggled their careers with their roles as mothers and wives. “Women are created to multi-task.” says Hon Peris Chepchumba Simam, “When I am at home I am a wife and mother at the same time. I cook for my family.”

So, if you are feeding the baby as you read this, cooking for your family or generally doing the one million and one tasks women are often called upon to do, consider this as a potential new calling. Kenya needs talented women like you.

Public Participation Key in promoting Transparency and Accountability in Counties

Many Kenyans have in the past years not taken time to follow up on services provided by the government because of many reasons. Among these reasons are understanding the right to demand information and lack of participation in  the development county agendas.

While conducting a training on Devolution and Promoting Women’s Engagement in County Governance Systems in Kwale and Isiolo Counties for its community radio listening facilitators, AMWIK together with the participants realized the need for the community groups to engage proactively in demanding for better delivery of social services in their counties. 

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Curses pose a big challenge for women candidates in getting elected

While attending a feedback meeting organized by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) for women candidates from Laikipia and Samburu Counties, Rebecca Lolosoli narrated how women from Waso Ward were made to believe they would be cursed if they voted for a women.

“It was hard to convince my people especially the women to vote for me because they had already been warned there would be repercussions if they did. I think that is some kind of a rigging strategy so that the votes can go to a particular person which is very unfair. ” Rebecca Lamented.

David Lekoomet Rebecca’s Chief Campaign’s Manager also in attendance explained his challenges for supporting a woman leader. “The council of elders discourage men from giving support to women candidates and those who defy such orders are isolated since they are considered bewitched.”

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AMWIK Members Elected as County Women Representatives

From Left Alice Chae, Sabina Chege and Dennitah Ghati

AMWIK congratulates its members Dennitah Ghati, Sabina Chege and Alice Chae for being elected for the County Women Representative Positions.

Dennitah is the first Woman Representative for Migori County; Alice Woman Representative Nyamira County and Sabina Woman Representative Murang’a County.

We are proud of them and wish them the very best as they undertake their role in public service.

AMWIK “breaks the ice” with women candidates

AMWIK invited media bureau chiefs from Eastern and Coast provinces and other journalists to interact and device ways of working with women aspirants.

During the sessions, it was evident that women political aspirants needed publicity. Amina Abdalla, who is vying for the Kisauni MP seat shared her “not so rosy” encounter with the media. Amina said she has had a rough experience with the media after she sued a certain local media house for defamation.

“The media can make or break you. I was once misquoted over a drugs scandal and I took them to court for defamation. Since then, whenever I call the media for a function, they never show up. It seems like they have given me a blackout,” says Amina.

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