Need For Civic Education Among Female Voters
Kenyan politics has been termed as being male dominated; this could be a thing of the past if only civic education could be conducted at the grassroots levels especially to female voters. It is their constitutional right to vote whether during party nominations, by elections or general elections.
Nairobi`s Ngara ward Member of County Assembly, MCA 2017 aspirant Mercy Akinyi, popularly known as Okinyo Lady says women can always use their number and beat their male counterparts by voting for their fellow female political aspirants only if they get civic education.
In an exclusive interview, Akinyi says the belief that women are their own enemies and the opinion that they cannot vote for their fellow women can be changed. She urges women to use their huge number to vote for fellow women.”I would love to change the mentality that women cannot make it, because when I look at the prior records of the previous female leaders, I see that they have done a great job. The fact that a mother knows the pain of a baby, she will not fail to pay attention to you when in trouble unlike men. Women lack civic education on importance of participating in voting exercise. It is our responsibility to vote and elect the leaders we want. We need to educate women on their civic rights” says Akinyi
Akinyi is vying for the position of Member of County Assembly (MCA) on an Orange Democratic Movement, (ODM) party ticket further says that the party recognizes the importance of women and organizes training for their candidates; she also acknowledges the efforts of organizations that support female political aspirants. “My party has given women first priority, it has organized training for female political aspirants, which help us a lot because we later go to the field and exercise the lessons learnt when we meet our voters”
Being a female aspirant, she encourages fellow women to unite and have confidence in themselves because they too have the capability to deliver. “As a woman, you don’t need to underestimate yourself according to the type of work you do, lets get rid of the fear in us since if we support each other even our male counterparts will support us through to the ballot box.
“Men too need to be educated so that they give women a chance and the support they need. Just as we are able to lead our families, we can lead the whole country, all we need is your support”. She added
Even as various aspirants in Kenya have shown interest in various political seats ahead of the 2017 general elections, party nominations remains a great challenge. Mercy Akinyi says that the 2013 experience is still fresh in her mind when competitors spread negative rumors about her and fellow women aspirants.
“After party nominations in the 2013 general election, we were not assured of free and fair party nominations. Our leaders should look into this issue ahead of 2017 party nominations. “I request all organizations supporting female political aspirants to hold our hands through the nominations stage so as to help us overcome this huge challenge ahead of us. Let civic education be extended to voters in their localities even if it is door to door and empower them on why they need to vote and also vote for female political aspirants” adds Akinyi
Akinyi who believes she was born a leader currently deals with savings groups and has identified the challenges that Ngara ward residents go through. She says Ngara which has a number of businesses, hawkers and mechanics need a better market and shelters that would enable their customers access their goods and services easily. Being a woman, she also has the desire to see children access better education opportunities despite their backgrounds.
“Just as every ward has its own challenges, Ngara ward is not exceptional. Hawkers, mechanics have been encountering numerous problems. Hawkers lack shades so they cannot manage their businesses during extreme weather conditions even when demand is high from their customers. Nyayo market and Tsunami are not in good conditions hence making it difficult for customers to access the markets. Children fail to go to school due to lack of school fess yet they can be helped in one way or the other. These are some of things that have pushed me to vie for the MCA position so that we can help Ngara ward residents” She concludes
Her inspiration is drawn from female other political images; the likes of Charity Ngilu, Martha Karua and Elizabeth Ongoro. She believes that everything is possible,
Submitted by: TEBBY OTIENO.