It is encouraging to see so many women raring to go for elective political office through the Orange Democratic Movement. I congratulate you for the desire to serve our country and I want to promise you right from the start my unequivocal support. You have what it takes and the party will do all it can to create the right environment for you to compete and thrive.
Let me thank the National Democratic Institute, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK and USAID for their investment in and support for our women. Our party is committed to working with you to see to it that we have the highest number of women elected to the 12th Parliament.
Our party has classified women under special interest groups and lowered their nomination fees to Ksh15, 000 to motivate and enable more of them to run for elective positions.
We recognize that times are hard and women are the hardest hit.
We also recognize that we have a Constitutional obligation to help our country realize the two thirds gender rule.
Jointly with our international partners like the UK’s Liberal Democrats, we have held training workshops for our women aspirants with the aim of aiding them in campaigning and building a strong support base.
The trainings have focused on helping the women leaders understand the party’s internal dynamics and machinery, effective communication through different campaign channels, overcoming all forms of political violence, and reaching out to voters through canvassing and on-the-ground campaigning.
Through the trainings, we have sought to inspire the women by inviting speakers who have faced and overcome social and political challenges. By combining training sessions with the real life experiences of other female politicians, we have sought to provide the women aspirants with the best possible tools for facing the upcoming elections.
Today’s meeting is a continuation of this commitment to having women vie and win as many positions as possible.
At the party’s headquarters, we have set up a Women Candidates Coordination Office (WCCO) to manage all activities geared towards getting women elected.
Such activities include developing and maintaining a database of women aspirants and acting as a resource center and one stop shop for all information the women aspirants might require; and, liaising with the party organs and other bodies like the IEBC and security officials to resolve any challenges or issues the women might face.
As a key member of the National Super Alliance, ODM fully subscribes to the third pillar of the coalition’s principles which is the realization of equality of women, youth, persons with disabilities, and the disadvantaged communities and groups as mandated by the Constitution in Article 27.
It is our position that from the NYS scandal, the plundered Youth and Women funds, the twisted form of affirmative action that saw the wealthiest and elite women with connections win tenders meant for their underprivileged counterparts, there is no arena where our society has been as cynical and abusive as in the women’s agenda. We are determined to make amends.
As part of this determination, we have adopted in our Coalition agreement the requirement that all our coalition structures and organs fulfill this constitutional requirement on the realization of equality for women.
Women are at the center of our agenda for inclusion as opposed to exclusion.
We have taken these steps with full knowledge that significant challenges remain in our attempts to get more women elected. Women currently represent only about 20 percent of parliament and 33 percent of county assemblies. Out of 1,450 seats in county assemblies, only 80 women were elected while the rest were nominated.
At the national level, only 16 women were elected to the National Assembly for single member constituency seats, 47 were elected for special women only county seats while five were nominated for special interest seats. No woman was elected to the Senate and there is not a single woman governor. Kenya’s 2013 election did not meet the two-third gender threshold. Out of all contestants for four elective positions — governor, senator, MP and MCA — women made up only six percent of candidates. That is 775 out of 12,488 candidates.
This is a dismal record ODM does not want to be associated with after August elections. We owe it to our women and to our country to ensure that in 2017, we meet the constitutional gender threshold.
In ODM, we are prioritizing free, fair, credible and peaceful nominations in the process that begins next month and in the general elections slated for August.
We have issued very firm instructions to the National Election Board that the party must not tolerate any form of violence, intimidation and fraud during nominations. As the leader of the party,
I have mandated the NEB to take firm action, including disqualification, against aspirants who use underhand tactics including violence during upcoming nominations.
Our policy of zero tolerance for all forms of political violence, especially violence against women aspirants, candidates and party activists must come alive in the nominations that begin next month.
It is my belief that with all these measures, and with the support of partners like NDI, DFID and USAID, ODM will play its role in having our country realize the two-thirds gender rule in the 2017 elections.
I want to assure the women of Kenya that they can count on my support. I wish you success in your dreams.