The number of women competing in the Senate race in next month’s General Election is similar to those who contested in the last elections.
Out of the 256 candidates contesting senatorial seats in the August 8 poll, only 17 are women, the same number that competed in 2013. However, the difference between the last elections where voters declined to elect a single woman to the Senate, the coming General Election promises to ensure at least two women are elected.
The current Senate has 18 women nominated by political parties for affirmative action, in line with the Constitution. Two of the women were nominated by their parties to represent interests of the youth and people with disabilities.
If results of primaries in certain counties where some political parties are dominant, at least two women are set to be voted to the Senate as the country enters the second term of the devolved system of government.
In Uasin Gishu County, former Education Cabinet Minister in the Kibaki administration, Prof Margaret Kamar, won decisively in Jubilee Party’s primaries, to clinch the ticket for the next month’s General Election.
In the 2013 elections, Prof Kamar, a former University lecturer, weathered the United Republican Party (URP) wave to emerge second in the county's governorship race to incumbent Jackson Mandago. She was contesting on Orange Democratic Party (ODM).
In the Jubilee Party nominations for the coming elections, the soft spoken professor defeated a field of 13 male aspirants, including the incumbent who came in fourth. She garnered to
However, on August 8, Prof Kamar will need to beat five rivals to become Uasin Gishu’s next Senator.
In Nakuru, Susan Kihika, the outspoken former Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly is pitted against five rivals.
During the Jubilee Party primaries, Ms Kihika, won the Jubilee Party’s ticket after beating seven opponents decisively. She defeated her closest rival by more than 20,000 votes. But her win was dampened by a court case filed by Ms on grounds that she had not resigned from the Speaker’s seat before entering the senatorial race.
She eventually won the case and is now comfortably on the campaign trail. In the nominations, she defeated lawyer Karanja Kabage who has since moved to run for Njoro Constituency seat as an independent. The two women are battling it out with three male rivals.
In Mombasa, the county’s deputy governor Hazel Katana is the Jubilee Party’s candidate for the seat after defecting from ODM. Ms Katana, who joined politics in 2013 from the corporate world, has had a strained relationship with her governor and ODM Deputy Leader Hassan Joho, which burst into the open last year. She is in a tight race to replace Wiper’s Hassan Omar who is gunning for governorship, and is pitted against nine candidates among them another woman competitor, Ms Florence Wawuda of Vibrant Democratic Party (VDP).
In Isiolo, nominated senator Fatuma Dhullo has opted to seek election for the same seat and says she is confident of winning. The former provincial administrator and commissioner at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is competing for the seat with six male candidates but she maintains that the seat is hers to win.
Ms Dhulo who says she has had to fight against all odds as a woman from a pastoralist community to be in politics, is running on FDR party. The nominated senator seeks to replace the incumbent Dr Mohamed Kuti is gunning for governorship.
Her only other female nominated colleague in the House who has also chosen to run for the senate is Ms Catherine Mukite who is eying the Trans Nzoia senatorial seat. Ms Mukite, a retired banker, who was nominated by Ford Kenya to the senate in 2013, is running as an independent candidate as she seeks to unseat her senate colleague.
In the race with Senator Mukite is Beatrice Kitiabi of the Orange Democratic Party (ODM), who will be fighting it out with eight other candidates.