‘WOMEN AND YOUTH IN THE AGE OF DEMOCRACY: THE 2022 GENERAL ELECTIONS’ PLAYERS’
By Edward Sakwa Stretchers Youth Organisation
2022 has been a political year in Kenya and opened an opportunity for the youth and women who were left out in the past to participate. This year, a good number of youth and women took chances in vying for elective seats. Most youth and Women went for the Member of County Assembly trying their luck. For some, it was their first counter in political spaces and through Mobilise Empower Actualise Transform (MEAT) engagements built their confidence and how to articulate issues at the community level. With the excitement of being called “Mheshimiwa” by the electorates.
Most youth and women attached themselves to well-established political parties that had financial muscle and other resources. But it’s unfortunate that since most of the political parties, especially at the coast where we are implementing the MEAT Project, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party has a solid ground base and any person vying under the ODM has a 50%+1 chance of clinching the seat.
Their zeal for belonging to a political party forced some of them to drop out due to the stiff competition. Picture this, a youth who has no stable source of employment is contesting with an incumbent who has resources and a position in the party. Do you think there is any fair playing ground in that? This saw a number of the aspirants vying on independent tickets while some opting for the not so well known political parties since there has been a notion when you belong to a party then your chances are better off than a person on an independent ticket.
As we continued engaging the aspirants throughout the nomination exercises toward the election, several issues were raised and among them being lack of support, especially from the political parties. In Kenya, politics is an expensive venture as every electoral cycle dynamics changes. This was testified by candidates that when you do not offer financial support to your electorates then other bigwigs with humongous financial muscle will take away all the gains you made since at the end of the day no one wants to attend a rally or any other engagement without being paid. Sadly, everyone wants to put bread on their table.
This demoralised many but two of the candidates we talked to wend against all out of all odds and secured a Member of the county assembly on an independent ticket and the other one on a UDM ticket. As much as we wished to have youthful legislators we are proud to share that most of the county assemblies in Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa have a good percentage of Youthful Legislators.
We believe these are the ones who will call the shots on behalf of the other youths they are representing. We call on the youths and women to engage in political parties by occupying decision-making spaces. It’s through such spaces they can challenge the biasness witnessed in political parties. The challenges we face as a country can be politically solved.