JUST THE FACTS

BE PART OF THE CHANGEMAKERS FOR KENYA


When it comes to political leadership, Kenya falls below par in female representation among her East African peers. The cost of dismal representation in the Kenyan political space is one that the country cannot continue to bear.

  • Strengthening electoral institutions and political parties to implement legal and administrative frameworks promoting women’s participation.
  • Fostering an enabling environment for female candidates that prevents/mitigates electoral conflict and provides awareness raising and rapid response to violence against women in elections.
  • Strengthening the ability of women to participate as voters, as competitive candidates for elected office and as effective advocates for positive change.

We are committed to improving women’s political participation in the 2017 electoral process and beyond, by making the narratives of violence against women in elections in their homes, political arenas and public spaces more visible, by:

We can be #BetterThanThis. Will you join us?

How does Kenya Measure Up?

Kenya in in last place when it comes to involving women as decision makers.

The country is more or less at the same status of female political representation as South Sudan despite the former being less than a decade old independent nation against over 50 years of progressive politics in Kenya.

Kenya ranks last in the number of women serving in political office out of all East African nations (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi and South Sudan). The provision of 47 special seats for County Women Representative in Kenya ensured a 26.5 percent representation of women in the Senate (Upper House) in the 2013 elections. Yet, during the same 2013 elections, elected female legislators in the National Assembly (Lower House) constituted 5.5 percent. This figure goes up to 19.4 percent when affirmative action is factored in. Either way, these figures fall way below the constitutionally stipulated two-thirds gender rule.

Download Behind the Numbers: Women in the 2017 Election in Kenya for the full story

See the Numbers
Country Lower House or Single House

National Assembly

Upper House

Senate

Kenya 19.4% 26.5%
Uganda 34.3% N/A
Tanzania 36.4% N/A
Rwanda 61.3% 38.5%
Ethiopia 38.8% 32%
Somalia 24.4% 24.1%
Burundi 36.4% 41.9%
South Sudan 28.5% 12%

Figure 2: Comparison of Women’s Representation in East Africa. Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union: Women in National Parliaments

Better Than This

Opportunities to be #BetterThanThis


But don’t give up hope! Change is happening. There are several promising trends emerging from the 2017 party primaries and nominations process that are worth noting for the opportunities they represent:

Women Successfully Nominated for New Positions: This recent primary has shown women candidates successfully nominated for new influential positions of leadership. In 2013, a total of six women vied for gubernatorial positions as independents or with fringe parties, but none secured the nomination.

The Number of Women Aspirants is Growing: Since the 2007 elections, the number of women aspirants for political office in Kenya has steadily grown despite the many barriers outlined above. In 2007, the number of women aspirants was 269; in 2013, the number was 455 women; in 2017, the number currently stands at 1,333, double that of party primary contestants in the previous election cycle.

Youth Registration Numbers Are Up: The latest registration numbers for youth ages 18 to 29, show a significant increase on previous years. Young women number 4,337,063 of those registered in that age demographic. This figure is very comparable to that of young men who number 4,572,220. The uptick in registration of young women demonstrates that they too intend to engage and participate in election and are therefore, a group to be mobilized for supporting other women as candidates, voters and election officials.

Women Who Were Previously Unsuccessful, Often Run Again: There are several women who were involved in the primaries this year who had unsuccessfully vied in previous elections. They have not been daunted by their experience and have again engaged with the party primaries process in 2017. This demonstrates determination to be politically involved despite the many obstacles women face.

How does Kenya Measure Up?

ChangeMakers: Women Running in 2017

Out of the 12,188 primary candidates in 2017, 1,333 (11 percent) were women. Yet to be gazetted data incorporating the high number of independent candidates indicates that there are 9 percent women who have been officially nominated.

The maxim for women in politics is that when more women run, more women win. With the low number of female candidates running in the 2017 election, the chances of making dramatic shifts in the percentage of women in the next Parliament are slim.

Governor 1%
Senate 1%
National Assembly 9%
MCA 73%
Women Representative 7%
How does Kenya Measure Up?

ChangeMakers: Women Running in 2017

Out of the 12,188 primary candidates in 2017, 1,333 (11 percent) were women. Yet to be gazetted data incorporating the high number of independent candidates indicates that there are 9 percent women who have been officially nominated.

The maxim for women in politics is that when more women run, more women win. With the low number of female candidates running in the 2017 election, the chances of making dramatic shifts in the percentage of women in the next Parliament are slim.

Find Out More

overrall success of women who vied

overrall success of men who vied

So what’s the Problem?

Barriers to Women’s Political Participation in Kenya


In some cases, women are targeted because of their affiliations, and in other cases they are targeted simply because they are women participating in politics.

Internal Politics

Political parties are essential to increasing women’s representation in that they hold the key to create space and an enabling party environment to ensure more women are able to vie as candidates through the party primary system. At present, there is a political parties’ narrative that men are the only ones who can truly compete for seats or campaign to retain their incumbency.

Access to Financial Resources

Elections are expensive affairs. The financial demands of participation in the political system in Kenya automatically disenfranchises a large number of women aspirants. For instance, to run for party nominations, depending on the party and the position being aspired for, an aspirant must lodge a nomination fee upwards of 100,000 Kenya shillings.

Media Coverage of Women Leaders

The media can make or break an individual’s popularity as a candidate or leader. A study conducted by Twaweza Communications in March 2017, concluded that women received low visibility in both print and electronic media.

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Cultural & Religious Beliefs

Kenya is a patriarchal society and societal constructs including husbands, in-laws, Councils of Elders, are firmly entrenched in beliefs about women’s role in society. For this reason, the first battlefront for women political aspirants is their immediate family and community. Cultural barriers are reinforced by religious beliefs and both are often effectively exploited and deployed by those who want to keep women out of politics.

Violence Against Women in Elections 

Despite efforts to promote the participation of women this election cycle, observers reported an increase in harassment of women during party primary campaigns.

Ineffective Institutional Responses

There are substantive legal frameworks in Kenya to protect the rights and interests of women. They seem to correspond to equal levels of apathy of institutional enforcement that would influence how women are treated in the political arena. For example, the two-thirds rule. This is an explicit constitutional provision which, if it were implemented, it would create new opportunities for women in politics. The delay in its implementation weakens its value.