In Kenya, Uraia Trust, an FGE-assisted grantee, and its partners are joining forces to make sure that the 2017 general elections fully comply with a constitutional affirmative action measure. Known as “the two-thirds gender principle” it limits the representation of women or men to a maximum of two thirds in elective and appointive public bodies. Yet women’s political participation and representation remain low. Uraia is targeting change at different levels, working with political parties, community forums and even male gender equality champions.
The training of 360 women aspirants on electoral requirements has groomed them to be effective candidates. Veronica Long’ole is one. Appalled after a violent cattle rustling affected her family, she became determined to take on security issues in her community. “[The training] opened my mind. I knew I wanted to be a leader but I didn’t know the practical aspect,” explains the 25- year old, now equipped with skills to develop campaign messaging, mobilize social and political support, and speak publicly.
Veronica applied her new skills when she decided to compete against her own father, a former elected councilor, to stand in elections for the county assembly. Ignoring his threats to disown her, she mobilized her family, clan, community, national legislators and other leaders to mediate, and confidently shared her vision. The result was an overwhelming victory; Veronica garnered 85 percent of the votes required to run for the seat. Her father blessed the decision of the people to let her contest; subsequently, Veronica negotiated support from six male contenders for the same position.The arguments used in her favour included her clear agenda for improvements in her community, and her energy and persistence.
Veronica is now tirelessly preparing for the upcoming elections, despite the obstacles she keeps encountering, including from other candidates competing for political party nominations. She has also not stopped researching issues to guide her development agenda, having defined top priorities such as fostering safety and improving livelihoods, health and the environment. “The vision for my community as a secure place with improved infrastructure and development gives me the motivation to serve,” she says.
Full Report available here