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 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 urged to ensure that women have equal opportunities to run and hold different public positions, 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. Different strides through 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 have been noted among the rights holders.
In Narok a Chameron community 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 get equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills necessary for growing themselves into leaders. Having strong and informed leadership of Endorois women in Baringo County has provided an opportunity for insight and understanding of political rights, and has opened spaces for reviewing the Constitution of Kenya which has to a great extent equipped them to understand and be ambitious in running for political seats. With the implications of COVID-19, the team has had to revamp its project implementation processes by considering the use of media such as radio stations that have popular listenership and are able 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 grant making.
By the end of these engagements Ms Lydia Koech was appointed as an assistant chief for Chebinyiny Sub Location. Upon assuming office, she has been advocating for equal allocation of resources which in return has contributed to the improvement of living standards of people under her jurisdiction.
Lydia’s success has inspired six women and they have expressed interest in running for Member of County Assembly (MCA) positions come the 2022 national elections. As part of the project ambitions to boost their political prospects the Endorois Welfare Council will continue training the candidates 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.
When women come together and share experiences of their journey of running or holding positions in office, more women get encouraged to be part of this political process. Women who come together especially in Baringo County can be part of the decision-making process in matters pertinent to 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 these problems leading to a reduction in teenage pregnancies and early marriages among the 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.