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“Women can earn elected leadership by merit”
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“Women can earn elected leadership by merit”

It has been a long struggle to give women a voice, writes Judith Akoth, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kisumu in Kenya. Although it has been an uphill journey to ensure that women enjoy equal opportunities in leadership, education and income, she questions the concept and results of legislation aimed at electing women.

In all these struggles there are gains that have blossomed due to the commitment and visionary leadership of bold women and men who understood the value of women empowerment. I am confident to mention names of women such as Angela Merkel, the de-facto leader of Europe, who has done a great job in both politics and in transformative leadership.  Or Christiane Amanpour, a world leading news correspondent, who has covered conflicts and crisis situations, remained objective, and set the agenda for world leaders. The list is endless.

However, there are those who do not understand the magnificent power of a woman, neither do they realise their inborn potential. I decry this because when I look at my surroundings, I see women who stripped themselves of these titles that we strove so hard to earn. They confined themselves in comfort zones.

Right now in Kenya, we are going for the general elections come August 2017. Seven years ago we inaugurated a new constitution that delivered an affirmative action that stipulates, “not more than two-thirds of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.” This gave birth to elective positions called ‘Women Representative’. I have no disregard for this position whatsoever; however in my opinion it seems to be a bribe to stop women from pursuing other stronger elective positions. Currently we have a long list of able women vying for this position and closing their eyes to their abilities to secure other elective positions such as the gubernatorial seat.

What irks me most about this position is that even the present women representatives have done very little to improve gender policies. They have not been vocal enough in addressing gender equality issues even at the grass root level. They are barely seen by their electorates, and the majority of them rarely contribute to debates in parliament – neither have they delivered their maiden speech. Their performance is so dire that the men are questioning our leadership capabilities and requesting us to allow them to represent us because they would probably do a better job!

To me, these women have made the position a disgrace. We have been degraded again to the point of being to a laughing stock to the men. For these reasons, it would be in the best interest for the women in Kenya to have the position completely scrapped so that the women are challenged into being bold, innovative and visionary in pursuing other elective positions against the male opponents.

I carry these sentiments because I believe today women empowerment efforts have born fruit, and as such we have almost equal opportunities with men. This means women in Kenya do not need to be handed leaderships opportunities for the third constitution gender rule to be met. Instead we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are able leaders. We must engage in women caucus with the aim to nurture a cadre of female leaders who are problem solvers and bold for change! This will also bring together social networks where women in leadership can share experiences, information, educate one another and also inspire others to become better leaders.

There is also the need to go back to the drawing box and build the self-esteem and confidence of women political aspirants so that they advance their political ambitions to build a country worthy of boundless opportunities for young women.

I echo words of encouragement from Martin Luther King Jr. to all the women political aspirants across the world. He said “if you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”.

We are more than conquerors, and have no excuse to allow anyone to give us leadership position, for we can acquire it through merit!

photo credit: UN Women Gallery CSW59 – High-level Panel: Women in Political Leadership – Achieving equality in political decision-making via photopin (license)

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About meI am a confident and articulate graduate who enjoys engagement in journalism clubs and associations.  Young yet mature; I am interested in inculcating my skills in conflict management in regards to politics, ethnic and religious inspired conflicts.

I believe our future generations have a right to live in a peaceful environment that allows for holistic development. Currently I am a blogger and a volunteer at community based organisations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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