Most of the participants were engaging in active politics for the first time in their lifetime with a few having been participated before. A number of issues emanated from their experiences.
The issues shared were:
- Security threats that led to massive migration of persons from some areas e.g Lamu County. People were threatened that they will be attacked if they continued to stay in their home places during the election time forcing them to move away to other places for their security.
- Nominations that were done in a partisan and tribal way. Party officials with a ready lineup of preferred candidates during the primaries. This led to a number of candidates losing in an unfair way because the officials tampered with the nomination process. This led to a number of women hoping to other parties and others going as independents.
- Some women had to sell their properties to raise funds to run their campaigns. Following the nature of politics that were being played on the ground, a lot of other candidates were paying voters so that they can gain their support. Since some of the women who were contesting did not have huge financial muscles to do the same, they had to consider other options of raising funds thus resulting to sell of their properties such as houses and plots at throw away prices just to get some more money to run their campaigns.
- Lack of support from parties. Political parties had promised their candidates that they would support them in their campaigns especially financially. This in most parties was just a lip game. For instance the candidates were told to hire agents and they were to be given money to pay them. This did not happen.
- Use of police to harass other candidates. Some well-connected politicians liaised with police and planned to pin down their women competitors by arresting them so that they can be intimidated and quit from the race. This happened to one candidate forcing her to quit from running since she was in custody when the deadlines set by IEBC lapsed.
- Voter Bribery. Voters were asking for money everywhere following this was the trend for all the players on the race. If you did not have money enough to pay the voters they would not even give you a chance to sell your manifesto to them.
- Recruitment of agents and paying them. As usual as a candidate you need agents to monitor for you the process. A number of agents were not honest with their leaders thus they did not serve them as required. They would be paid by opponents to overlook some illegalities especially during the counting process.
- Illiterate agents. Agents need training so that they understand what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Some of the agents were denied access to the polling stations hours into the day. Some of them too were not allowed to witness the counting process due to them not being informed.
- An Encouragement to the Candidates
Don’t carry politics in your hearts. Put emotions aside for your welfare. As an aspirant you must be knowing that politics is just like a game which you can win or lose. So you must prepare yourself psychologically for the task and embrace whichever result that comes out. If it happens that you win better even, but if you lose there is always next time. Just take time and plan yourself for the next elections by working on what made you not to win and then repackage yourself freshly for the next round.
“Kuvunjika kwa mwiko si mwisho wa upishi” è The Breaking of a cooking stick is not the end of cooking
Planning yourself as an aspirant in politics
Perform a SWOT analysis
- What is your strength as a woman in politics in our African setup – believe in self/trust, Confidence.( women are the ones who carry their homes). It is possible for a woman to lead. If you are capable of bringing sound agendas and development to the community then it means you are the one we need. Don’t come to the people and start telling them you know I am a woman please vote…..Come as a candidate with potential equal to any other politician and sell your agendas. So what you work on is your package to the people. Brand yourself nicely and you will have the ears of the people.
- Your weaknesses- fear. What you need to fear is fear itself. What if I win and I can’t handle it? What if I lose? If you fear then you experience the fear but do it anyway.
- Opportunities – Groom others. Work on making others around you comfortable and this will work miracles for you. If you have a chance to change something in the society even before you ascend to an elective position, please do it because this will be some of the tools that can step up your support from the community when telling your story.
- Threats – I will lose. Some other politicians saying you are a woman and not electable. Being a woman is not a sin and you did not apply to be one. What is more important is are you able to impact the community, do you have the interests of your people at heart. What is it that you want to change or make better for your people. This is what you focus on and not on whether you are a woman or not. In Rwanda 64% of the legislators are women and check the performance of Rwanda in terms of growth. Look at the contribution of the women to the bills in parliament.
If you don’t go for what you want, you won’t have it.
If you don’t ask the answer will always be NO
If you don’t step forward, you will always remain in the same place.
Therefore it is you to choose to rise above your circumstances and go for what you want. Don’t stop running towards that which you want until you get it. The attitude is it is not over until you win.
If you FAIL in your attempt don’t give up but only know that that was a:
F – First
A – Attempt
I – In
L – Learning
And that should not be the END of your ambition but then just know that:
E – Effort
N – Never
D – Dies
Plus don’t call it a NO but:
N – Next
O – Opportunity
Don’t put hatred with men but work with them as any other person you relate with and just play your cards well focusing on how to win the people.
What need to be worked on
Women contesting for various positions without an understanding of which level of government deals with what. They need to understand the governance structure. Devolution functions and structure.
They also need to understand the political market imperfection. You must brand yourself well so that you can easily sell yourself to the people.
Let us push for the change we want with the attitude of it is not over until we win.
What worked well
- Polling stations open in time
- Voter turn out improved as compared to 2013
- Assistance to special interest groups such as persons with disability, expectant mothers and the elderly.
- Good security at polling centers
- KIEMS kits worked well.
Accept the current result as it is . “Tumeshindwa tu election si kimaisha” Kill the negative thoughts and move on.
Forming CBO – Tumaini Letu Kilifi
- Girl child education
- Start programmes to grow ourselves economically through different projects e.g agribusiness
- To empower youths and the disabled in eradicating poverty through different projects.