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An Audit of Young Women’s place in Governance processes during and beyond elections

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Only 2 percent of young people in Kenya are in Senior management positions and only 10 percent of them are in public positions.

These statistics do not look good for a country that prides itself in being democratic and country whose majority- 65% of the population is young.

This has made many young Kenyans especially young women feel left out in terms of leadership, budgeting and other decision making tables.

Mbuku Mburu says in an episode on the Audible African Woman-2022 Kenya Election Series at the Swaiba podcast hosted by Nyambura Mundia warns that, “If we don’t have young people in public service, young people will be left with a country they don’t know how to run.”

Kenya has however made a lot of milestones because in pre-independence even people who had attained the age of voting could not vote. Even after the 1957 Legislative Council that allowed African representatives to vote, women were still disadvantaged. The several conditions such as meeting a certain education criteria and wealth qualification saw only 917 women vote out of a possible 100,000 people.

“This meant that every decision being made then, lacked the woman voter’s perspective- although that has changed tremendously we still see women, especially the young not vote either because of the non-representation apathy or ESGBV ” shared Joy Mala elucidated to Swaiba on the historicities of the Kenyan Woman Voter.

Fast forward to 2022, Kenya has attained some high level of democracy, women are not only participating in elections but are also running for very high offices. But this freedom has come at a time when the social media space has largely been used to bully and intimidate women. Most of the women especially the young women find it hard to participate in online Baraza’s- limiting their access to political discourse & expression.

“The online platform’s targeted bullying and incell culture is very popular. This kind of culture, makes it very easy for women to be targets of gender disinformation and violence. The point of violence and bullying is to keep women from engaging freely in online spaces “. Wanjiru Nguhi who is a disinformation expert with the Fumbua Project  said. She also urged young women to be vigilant but to also find ways to stay in these spaces so as to participate in public political debates as it is within their constitutional rights.

2022 General Elections saw seven female governor elected, the highest number ever since the promulgation of the 2010 constitution.

Millions of women also participated as voters and thousands participated as grassroot mobilizers during campaigns.

The campaign dusts have now finally settled, the elected leaders including women are already rolling up their sleeves in readiness for work. What happens to these grassroot mobilizers?

Usawa Inc through their Podcast Swaiba says the last leg of this project is to ensure that funders and partners see the need to support grassroots women’s participation in governance processes beyond elections.

“Women are tired of only being regarded as voter mobilizers and not people who can actively engage in governance and leadership,” said Nyambura who is the ED of Usawa Inc and the host of Swaiba.

Nyambura Mundia , host Swaiba Podcast during a session with women in Mathare slums.

The Audible African Woman – 2022 Kenya Election Series( a series supported by ACT! and the Royal Danish Embassy-Nairobi)is committed to continue  to break down the complex governance processes and package them well to ensure the full participation of women.

“What are the governance processes that we need to be part of so that when we say that we don’t have public health amenities? Who are we supposed to be talking to? How do we liase with the various committees in the county assemblies to address our issues as grassroots women ?”is a question we hear in all our women led community Barazas- added Nyambura.

Rachel Mwikali a grassroot opinion shaper during a session with the women

In partnership with some of the grassroot opinion shapers like Rachel Mwikali the movement has already touched based in Kangemi and Mathare areas and engaged a number of women in the grassroots with an aim of keeping the political momentum beyond elections in these spaces .

According to Mwikali there was a lot of improvement with the way women were handled before and during the elections but the only big hurdle is seeing the juicy promises being implemented.

“My biggest worry is that we are off to a bad start in terms of women inclusion in leadership position. The current government promised women a 50 percent stake in Cabinet slots. This has not happened. This only means that we need to work harder and empower women to know how to engage the government meaningfully and not just wait to be used as mobilizers during campaigns,” says Mwikali.

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