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Why I do not support Anne Thumbi’s actions

Saturday August 10 2019

Anne Thumbi

Anne Thumbi is a nominated Member of Nairobi County Assembly, courtesy of her association with the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth. PHOTO | COURTESY 

JOAN THATIAH
By JOAN THATIAH
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I spent most of the last week speaking to female leaders.

We spoke about how they left their comfort zones into the murky waters that is politics.

We discussed deep issues on sexual harassment that no one will broach and everything to do with the long hours that is the job.

Plus, we talked about how they often have to work twice as hard as their male colleagues to be taken seriously.

Then, towards the end of that week, this discussion got punctured. How so? In this story that has been beaten to a pulp by now. The story of one Anne Muthoni Thumbi.

I am certain you know or have at least have heard about her by now. But for the benefit of who lives in mars: Anne is the woman who claimed through Governor Mike Sonko that she and the late Ken Okoth sired a son.

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'BOTTOM POWER'

Now to me, that's no biggie. Almost every ‘big’ person we know has had kids on the side. I am not even perturbed that she chose to come out in a funeral through a Governor’s utterances at the ceremony. Maybe that was her only avenue.

Now, my biggest beef is that Anne is a nominated Member of County Assembly (MCA) in Nairobi, courtesy of her association with the late MP.

This, of course, was openly shared by our very ‘honest' governor, who claimed he was asked ‘nicely' to help his friend's lover.

That right there took us as women, and as a society, many steps back. His assertion re-affirmed that stereotype that a woman in power must have slept her way to the top. You know, what they call ‘bottom power'?

I am sure we now have people looking around at other female leaders and wondering, and who did she sleep with? Might that story of hers on that tabloid have been true?

INDUSTRIOUS

I would like to say that all women in power have worked hard to be in those positions, but I will be lying. The sad truth is that there are women who have chosen the easy way up.

Women who would rather spend time and resources wooing connected men instead of going to rallies to convince voters.

What statements like the one the Governor made do is blot out the fact that there is a different set of women: women who hold themselves to high standards; who have big visions for their communities and who are not afraid to get their hands dirty; women whose efforts are routinely neutralised by these stereotypes.

If as women we are going to stand any chance at getting into leadership, that notion that power is best when it's sexually transmitted needs to go out of the window.

Instead of looking for money to groom yourself so that you can look the part for that powerful man, look for resources to put together that campaign machine. Put yourself out there; ask people to vote for you.

MERIT

While at it, remember that being a woman is not enough reason to be voted in. What do you bring to the table? Tell them.

You could say that the end justifies the means. I say that it doesn't. Not when it comes to women and leadership. It doesn't matter if you end up being a star performer. The fact remains you got there through the backdoor.

What you don't realise is that this is not just about you. It's about your daughter, her daughter after that and all those neighbourhood girls. What would make anyone look beyond their skirts?

It's also about other women aspiring for leadership and the communities waiting on them to get to the top. By sleeping your way up, you are slipping all of us down the ladder.

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