Election Safari Writer From Kericho County
The August 8th 2017 General elections in Kenya recorded a historic win for Kenyan women as five of their own went out to clinch hotly contested top positions in the country. Three women were elected as Governors while two others became senators for the first time. This is contrary to the 2013 General election where the county government recorded nil representation by elected women.
This counts as progress for The National Gender and Equality Commission. The constitutional Commission aims at promoting gender equality and freedom from discrimination. Article 81(b) of the Kenyan Constitution states that, “Not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender,” Hence women representation targets about 30 women Governors.
Despite all the progress, women leadership is without fault. Similar to their male counterparts, they too engage in misuse of their power and engage in political corruption. In early 2017, we saw The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights seek to block a section of leaders mentioned in integrity cases from vying for elective positions in the 2017 General elections.
The charges were corruption, gross misconduct, misappropriation of public funds and voter bribery. KNCHR seeked to have them disqualified on grounds that they failed to observe Chapter six of the Kenyan constitution on Leadership and Integrity. Women involved in government are less prone to corruption. This is according to a research by Dollar, Fisman, and Gatti ; Swamy et al.
The electorate in Kenya characterized women as being intelligent, passionate and determined to make real change in their communities. This is true especially for the pioneers like Wangari Maathai, Ngilu and Martha Karua who played a pivotal role in the race towards achieving Multi-Party democracy. But with an increase in female representation comes watering down of the feminist cause and hence corrupt politicians in the name of feminism and being a minority arise (wolves in sheep’s clothing).
“Fairer Sex” or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context”, a study by Justin Esarey of Rice University and Gina Chirillo of the National Democratic Institute, found that the statement that women are less likely to participate in corruption is a myth. Stereotypes depicting women as honest help advance corruption.
The report argues that this effect is highly dependent on institutional context. In a political culture “where corruption is stigmatized, women will be less tolerant of corruption and less likely to engage in it compared to men,” they write. “But if corrupt behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.”
Highly Corrupt societies depict no difference in corruption levels between Men and Women. This is the case for Kenya. Women are not excluded from exposure to opportunities of corruption. A popular TV series “Scandal” follows the life of Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washington. As the protagonist we are forced to love Miss Pope since all the odds are in her favour. She is black (minority), educated and most important of all a woman who calls the shots in the White House and consequently the world.
Myself I love Olivia. She is strong, tactful and intelligent. She sacrifices her happiness for the sake of the country. She refers to herself as a Gladiator, defender of the innocent, supporter of justice. Prides herself in being ethical -‘wearing a white hat’. In the sixth season, power consumes her. She is involved and is aware of killings of many top officials and innocent people. She has also participated in election fraud, where her client won President.
Which begs the question is she still a gladiator for the truth &integrity or she now fighting for power. I’m worried that I am a fan of a powerful, hardworking and successful (Read: good) woman who is also an election thief and a fraud. At what point is it okey to leave our integrity at the door and decide that because she is a woman and she is pretty then all sins are forgiven.
If you have morals you won’t go far in politics for instance 2013 presidential candidate James Ole Kiyiapi who was commonly termed as the ‘nice guy’. He came in 7th in the race. Similarly Boniface Mwangi, the renowned photojournalist and activist vied for Starehe Member of Parliament seat and lost. Apart from human rights activism he is involved in several development projects all for the good of citizens.
You can’t win without playing the dirty game. The nice guys finish last. But then I guess politics has always been dirty; you have to commit a few evils to get to the top. The youth from my home county fear that just electing women won’t bring an end to corruption scandals that have crippled our country’s economy. I believe they will ensure the good guys men or women with clean records emerge victors next time.