In the past, a woman was not allowed to take the leading role in many places, be it in a church or speak in family gatherings. If it happened, it was an abomination. It was termed so in the society, especially the African society.
Women have had difficult time to jostle for their space in the society. Women, especially those who declare interests to vie for different seats in politics are branded all sorts of names; for instance ‘she is not married if she will be voted in she will snatch other women’s husbands’. This was not enough, ‘this woman looks down upon her husband, she is rude’ etc. These are some of the challenges women who have interests in politics face.
Go to work places even if there is this notion that women are more than men in creation but most companies have more male employees than women. The reason here lies with the employers themselves. A place where women surpass men in number is in the churches.
A number of women have tried to ascend into power though pure struggle and have been branded different names.
In Kenya during the 2013 elections no woman was elected as a Governor but things turned out in favour of women in 2017 where out of the 47 Governors elected 3 were female. 3 ladies too were elected as Senators and the number of women elected in the County Assembly and National Assembly went up. This was a plus.
In the past, it was believed by some that when a woman is a member of the County or National Assembly, the nomination ticket she got was acquired after a bribe or consent to sexual favors.
The Kenyan 2010 Constitution addressed the problems of gender inequalities. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 in Article 27 (8) of the Bill of Rights provides that; ‘The State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.’
The National Assembly members have severally refused to enact the Gender Bill by not attending the sittings thus two thirds of members required to attain a quorum for constitutional amendment. You realize that even women leaders fail to attend the sittings and this raises eye brows where the problem might be.
Since the Gender Bill is still flopping every time it is taken in the National Assembly there are few women who have been given chances to serve in various positions; for instance the Nairobi County Assembly Speaker is a woman. She received resistance from a section of MCAs, something that led to her impeachment but later the Employment and Labour relations Court invalidated and prohibited the MCAs to debate any motion to do with her removal. This is what women leaders go through.
My point specifically is on the removal from office of majority leader of Bungoma County Assembly who is also a Member of County Assembly of Maeni Ward, Hon. Florence Wekesa Fulano. The Maeni legislator has been abused for a long time, with allegations of abuse of office, conflict of interest among other reasons.
The procedure of how to remove the majority or minority leader in the County Assembly is simple; members of the party that the leader represents collect signatures on the number required, the Chief Whip or Deputy Chief Whip takes the list to the speaker with their proposals then the Speaker does the ruling.
The way members of the County Assembly are handling the matter of Hon. Florence Wekesa is repulsive. These are elected and nominated members of the County Assembly representing wananchi.
Majority of those opposing the majority leader Hon. Florence Wekesa are women. What transpired on Thursday 7th May outside Bungoma County Assembly buildings was a very discreditable act to women leadership in the country.
We have women who have struggled to see that women are involved in matters representation but as at now the journey is still long, and there are women who are trying to frustrate fellow women in the line of their duties.
Some of Bungoma County Assembly women honorable members really misbehaved by shouting at each other, name calling, pushing each other and almost fought, reason being the ouster of the majority leader who is a woman. One may ask why all this? Does that only lead to all these confrontations in public or there is something more than that?
Those who were shouting were protecting the interests of their parties since most of them were heard mentioning the name of their parties but then why display such uncivilized manner in public when they are called waheshimiwas? The name mheshimiwa is meant to be used to a leader who draws respect, who has heshima.
Women leaders in the County Assembly of Bungoma have to square out their issues honourably, if it means removing a majority leader there is a procedure to be followed as stated above but again check on the Gender Bill and remember the journey that has taken women to have such positions and where women are heading to.
As the country is faced by Coronavirus pandemic and floods, these women leaders should be thinking of uniting and ensuring that expectant mothers, children and a girl child is safe.
They should ensure that women citizens have required necessities during this hard time. The energy they are using to shout, the energy they are using to even push each other, the energy and time they are using to champion to ouster the majority leader should be used to visit vulnerable families and by so doing they would have played a role of representation to their people.