Beatrice Kanoti beat all odds to secure MCA seat in Busia County

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Beatrice Kanoti beat all odds to secure MCA seat in Busia County

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Sustained civic and voter knowledge provision in Bwiri Ward, Busia County, contributed to a change in the residents’ attitude and perception on gender in political leadership as they elected a woman for the position of a Member of County Assembly (MCA). For decades, due to patriarchy, residents believed leadership was a preserve for men and a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Mrs. Beatrice Phemmy Kanoti, 37, a former civic educator, beat eight male candidates to secure the position.

Uraia Trust through its partner, Community Empowerment Development Centre (CEDC), provided civic and voter education to residents on good leadership and integrity, the two-thirds gender principle provided in the Constitution, roles of Member of County Assembly and Ward Administrator and functions of county governments. Residents from Bwiri Ward also participated in social vetting of political candidates, which informed them of the essence of electing leaders who embrace the Constitution.

A resident, Everest Furaha, 35, says civic education largely contributed to her decision to vote for Kanoti. “After receiving civic and voter knowledge training in the ward, I decided I will vote for a leader who can deliver during the General Elections. My choice was a female candidate,” says Furaha, of the sustained voter education she received in March 2017.

      Another resident, Bernard Wise Juma, 21, says Kanoti exhibited great leadership skills. “After participating in the civic education sessions in February, this year (2017), I could understand that as a voter I have responsibilities and I need to make informed decisions, such as voting for candidates who have shown capability to represent, legislate and ensure services are delivered,” says Juma.

.    He adds: “Out of nine candidates, Beatrice was the only female candidate in the race and did not have financial muscle that the other candidates had. When I considered her voluntary work in the community and positions she has held before, she demonstrated great leadership and protection of human rights, as compared with other candidates.”

Kanoti says for a long time she knew the work of a woman is domestic chores. “But what prompted me to venture into politics was the poor state and the suffering the people in my ward, especially women,” she says.

Kanoti says she learnt this state of suffering during provision of civic education across the ward. During this time of civic education provision in the ward, she realised the civic knowledge she had acquired since 2015 when she was recruited as a civic educator, that citizens faced these challenges and hardship due to low levels of awareness on the role of citizens and leaders in position of leadership and authority. “This is because we used to vote for people who bribed voters through items such wrappers (lesos), money and alcohol as incentives to deter as from voting the right leaders into positions of leadership,” she says.

She says her manifesto was crafted based on the civic knowledge she acquired during the civic education provision and questions on needs raised by citizens. These were issues raised during the civic education provision process. She attributed civic education to her knowledge to understand her rights, roles and responsibilities as a leader.

Presently, even in political or development forums, she starts by providing civic education before taking the agenda of the forum or the meeting so that citizens understand their civic rights and what they expect. “I owe a great appreciation to Uraia Trust intervention through CEDC for enabling me identify the potential I have,” Kanoti says.

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