NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader Raila Odinga has instructed the party’s National Elections Board to deal decisively with any male aspirant who uses violence to intimidate their female counterparts in the race for the party ticket.
Speaking at an ODM women leaders and aspirants meeting at the Multimedia University hall on Monday, Odinga said the party would not tolerate or condone cases of men harassing and intimidating their women opponents in the quest for party tickets for the various elective seats in the party primaries that begin next week.
“Our policy of zero tolerance for all forms of political violence, especially violence against women aspirants, candidates and party activists must come alive in the nominations that begin next month” said Odinga.
He said Kenya had come of age and that it was high time political parties embraced the culture of tolerance towards women and encouraged them to go for elective positions to achieve the two-third gender requirement in leadership.
“As ODM, we will continue supporting women. I therefore encourage you (women) to go for elective posts and win as many seats as possible in the August 8 general election.” he added.
Odinga advised women not just to fight for the seats reserved for women only but also go for constituencies and county positions to be at par with their male counterparts. “We in ODM consider women as a special interest group and that is why we lowered the nomination fee for them to enable them apply to vie for as many seats as possible,” said the NASA Co-Principal adding that, “we shall continue to encourage you (women) and empower you in our party.
Odinga regretted that despite being an integral part of the country’s development, women have continued to be sidelined and play a minimal role in the country’s leadership. “Women currently represent only about 20 per cent of parliament and 33 per cent of county assemblies. Out of 1,450 seats in county assemblies, only 80 women were elected while the rest were nominated”.
ODM Acting Secretary General Agnes Zani reminded women that it is their determination that will see them get elected to the various positions on August 8 this year. She said the era of women just sitting back and waiting to vote for men is long gone and encouraged them to go out and seek for votes.
“You know when a woman goes for an elective seat, she doesn’t do it for herself alone, she does it for the whole society,” said the Nominated Senator.
Zani told ODM women aspirants that they will be protected by the party and that no one will be allowed to stand in their way to success. “I can assure you that the National Elections Board will be very strict on anyone who causes violence with the aim of scaring you away,” she said adding that, “such people shall be punished in accordance with our party constitution”.
The meeting brought together women aspirants seeking the ODM ticket for the various elective seats from across the county. Others who spoke included Chairperson of the National Elections Board Judith Pareno, Homabay party Chairperson Gladys Wanga and a National Vice-Chairperson of the party Christine Lemein among others.