The safety of women in politics in Kenya needs to be seriously addressed

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If you’ve been following this year’s political campaigns, you quickly realize that we’re a country that pays lip service to the constitutional requirement of the equal participation of women in politics.

It’s baffling really, that in the 21st century, certain qualities, such as the ability to lead, are still gendered. You’d expect that at this point in time, it would be obvious that the only way to test a person’s capabilities would by putting them on the hot seat and asking them to deliver what they’d promised. Sadly, as it’s evident this year, our measuring rod is still based on the sex of the candidate.

Interviewers that seem to be more interested in how a female political aspirant maintains a work and life balance than her political manifesto send a resounding message: That a woman is either a home maker or nothing at all.

Or as it is in Samanthah Maina‘s case, a pretty face. She tweeted about the sexual harassment that her and her team face when they carry out door to door campaigns. Their manifestos are immediately disregarded by the men who stare at their bodies and objectify them. They allude to their beauty and youth as an invite for sex. It doesn’t matter whether they consent to it or not. The consequence is that more women shy away from running for political seats for fear that they might be raped.

Men don’t face the same fear when they carry out door to door campaigns, and why is this? Doesn’t the constitutional provision for every citizen to have the right to run for public office apply to all? And do we genuinely respect this right when they’re certain factors in our society that limit one sex from fully exercising this right?

You can read Samanthah’s Tweets below. She is running for MCA in Kileleshwa.

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