Claiming our space- women leaders in Baringo County, Kenya
By Wendy Otieno, Linking and Learning Amplifier Kenya
“Gender should not be a determinant of whether to be a great leader or not.” Endorois Welfare Council
Historically, in the African setting, women having a seat at the table was not a common phenomenon. However, with the increasing rise of global campaigns on gender equality and women’s empowerment such as #WhatIReallyReallyWant #HereToBeHeard and #EachForEqual, more women are now demanding a seat at the table while others are completely creating new tables all together. While the campaign and the dream for having an equal world has not been realised, we do applaud the steps that have been made in different corners of the world.
In articles 7 and 8 of the ratified Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, State parties are to ensure that women have equal opportunities to run and hold different public positions in office, be eligible for election, have the ability to vote and have influencing power in the overall decision making of policies that affect their day to day lives. With our rightsholders, we have seen the different strides in which empowered women are able to effectively lobby and advocate for inclusive policies and embrace the importance of economic empowerment for instance to lead better lives.
In Chameron community, Narok, a capacity strengthening session with stakeholders such as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on voter and civic education provided an opportunity for women leaders to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills on how they could grow themselves to be leaders. Having strong and informed leadership of Endorois women leaders in Baringo County has provided opportunity for insight and understanding on political rights and opened spaces to review the constitution of Kenya which has to a great extent equipped them to understand and be ambitious in running for political seats in their communities. With the implications of COVID-19, the team has had to revamp its project implementation processes by considering the use of media for example radio stations with popular listenership to reach many people. This continues to prove the importance of maximising the digital space for advocacy and campaigns while showcasing the importance of flexibility in grantmaking.
By the end of these engagements Ms. Lydia Koech was appointed as a sub-chief for Chebinyiny Sub Location and who having assumed her role has been advocating for equal allocation of resources which in return has contributed to improvement of the living standards of people in her Sub Location.
The success of Lydia has led to the drive of six women to be interested in running for Member of County Assembly positions come the 2022 national elections. As part of the project ambitions, Endorois Welfare Council will continue training them further on aspects such as developing campaign messages, training on electoral processes and training on how to use media to amplify their voices in the society to boost their political prospects.
When women come together and share experiences of their journey by running or holding positions in office, more women are encouraged to also be part of this process. Women who come together especially in Baringo County can be part of the decision-making process in matters pertaining the community such as early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Currently, there is a rise in teenage pregnancies in Baringo county and with more women participating in leadership, they are more likely to address the root cause of this issue hence preventing teenage pregnancies and early marriages in Endorois Community.
Voice continues to work with grantee partners who strive to ensure the inclusion of all rightsholder groups in decision making processes that affect their day-to-day lived realities.