History as Kenya set to have first elected women senators

Wednesday August 9 2017

From left: Ms Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Prof Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), and Isiolo’s Fatuma Dullo. The three are poised to be the first elected women senators in Kenya. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

From left: Ms Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Prof Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), and Isiolo’s Fatuma Dullo. The three are poised to be the first elected women senators in Kenya. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NJOKI CHEGE
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Three women are on the verge of making political history as the first elected female senators in Kenya.
Uasin Gishu’s Margaret Kamar, Nakuru’s Susan Kihika and Isiolo’s Fatuma Dullo are set to be the first three women in the country’s history to sit in the Senate, not as nominated senators, but as elected ones once the election results are officially declared by IEBC.

They beat their opponents with large margins, proving beyond any doubt that indeed, they are popular in their respective home turfs.

It has been a long and tough journey for these three women, some of whom have had to overcome several hurdles in their paths to victory.

SUSAN KIHIKA

Ms Kihika who has been the Nakuru County Assembly Speaker before joining the senate race, made her first attempt at politics in 2013 when she unsuccessfully tried to unseat Kimani Ngunjiri in the Bahati parliamentary race.

The 43-year-old had returned to the country in 2012, after living in the US for 20 years.

Unperturbed by her loss, Ms Kihika returned to politics soon after and floored 12 men to become the Speaker in Nakuru.

Ms Kihika almost failed to make it to the ballot after the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal nullified her candidature saying she had not yet resigned from her Speaker’s position as required by law.

HIGH COURT RULING

The High Court later quashed the decision on grounds that the tribunal was acting out of its mandate and did not have the jurisdiction to make decisions on matters that required interpretation of the Constitution.

After that, Ms Kihika went to the polls and garnered 637,700 votes, trouncing her opponents to be the second senator of Nakuru County.

After attending Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School in Nyeri, Ms Kihika then went to the US to study political science and government at the University of North Texas and later a Jurist Doctorate Law Degree at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

While in the US, Ms Kihika served as chief prosecutor and later founded her law firm, The Kihika Law Firm in Dallas, Texas.

MARGARET KAMAR

In Uasin Gishu, Prof Margaret Kamar, is back to active politics, in a historic way.

In 2013, she unsuccessfully vied for the Uasin Gishu gubernatorial seat and came second after Governor Jackson Mandago.

Now, she is set to be the second senator of Uasin Gishu County after trouncing her opponents with 220,668 votes, which translates to 67 per cent of the vote.

Prof Kamar was touted as a “mature and experienced” leader by her constituents owing to the fact that she has held several high-profile positions in government.

Between 2010 and 2011, she served as the Assistant Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources before becoming the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology between 2011 and 2013.

Prior to vying for Senate, Prof Kamar was the director at the International Centre for Research in Sustainable Development.

FATUMA DULLO

The third history maker in this year’s Senate election is Isiolo’s Ms Dullo who was nominated to the Senate in 2013 by the United Republican Party (URP) but now seems set to represent the electorate as an elected lawmaker.

She trained in law at the University of Nairobi.

Ms Dullo served as a commissioner at the Kenya National Human Rights Commission between 2007 and 2012.

In a tightly contested race, Ms Dullo has outwitted her opponents – all men – and is set to become the next Senator of Isiolo.

A 2015 study by Mzalendo Trust showed Ms Dullo to be among the leading contributors in the Senate, participating in most debates.

It is also interesting to note that Ms Dullo, at the age of 22, was the first female District Officer from the Borana community.