Rasna Warah had a very interesting piece on what she thinks has been the apparent death of the w omen’s movement in Kenya in yesterdays Daily Nation.After reading her article i have decided to do a rejoinder on what i think has ailed the movement on Kenya.
Sometime last week Citizen TV had some two guests on their breakfast morning show who were being interviewed by Jimmi Gathu.The interview session was on the politics of the day and it was interesting to hear their view on Martha Karua’s presidential bid.One of the guests whose name i didn’t quite catch gave Martha some advice,don’t market yourself as a woman,sell yourself as a leader.In his opinion it is already apparent Martha is female all she needs to do is show Kenyans what she can do and not harp on her gender as a selling factor in her campaign.
Maybe he is right but it got me thinking that the reason for apparent death of female leadership in the country has been because women have learned that to win you need to play like a man.Just take a look at the way the Kenyan woman has evolved over the years and you will see that the Kenyan lady has wisely adopted masculine tendencies to make her way up whatever ladder she aspires to be at the top of.She is drinking and partying as hard as her male colleague,not that there is anything wrong with that but we seem to have mistaken equality with similarity.
To succeed as a woman there is no need of adopting male habits and thrown away everything that makes us feminine.Half the time if not all the time it seems Kenyan women are apologizing for their femininity.From the board rooms to the August house Kenyan women have to work five times as hard to prove they are as good as men.We cannot even stand behind most of our women who stand up for election because the women voters would rather a male candidate than a female,yet over the years they have been very many worthy female candidates standing up for various elective posts.
Since the year began,Kenya has featured on the international news channel CNN twice,the first time it was on World’s untold stories where they ran a feature on the deplorable state of Mathari Hospital,the only public mental health institution in the country.The situation was so awful David Mackenzie and crew were locked up by the hospital’s administrator together with the patients for more than two hours.It took more than 2 hours of frantic call to the Prime Ministers office for them to be released,yet they had a permit to shoot.Since then i never even heard a word from the Minister of Public Health Honorable Beth Mugo on the ways conditions at the hospital could be improved.And this was all happening on the same channel that was running the magical Kenya adverts.
The Ministry of Health is not the only one that has performed poorly but we sure do expect a lot more especially if it is being run by a woman,after all women are more empathetic than men.The least the Minister could have done is pay a visit to the hospital,confirm if the conditions were as bad as highlighted and if so see ways in which it could be improved.
The second time Kenya has been on the international news was over this weekend when it ran a story on Kenya’s forgotten people,the Nubians in Kibera.They have been with us since we can remember yet it seems they have to prove their identity even when they have to apply for an identity card.They cannot get employment ,bury their dead at a little plot of land in Kibera and generally function like a stateless community.
Recently there has been a spate in the rise cases of rape especially of minors and murders of women by their spouses.Since Njoki Ndungu’s bill on sexual offenses was passed it seems no one has taken up the baton for championing the rights of women and minors.
They all seem to embroiled in the political intrigues of the day,yet they could do so much by bringing to light issues that affect women. From the rising cases of maternal deaths in hospitals,to the woman fighting off crocodiles while they fetch water on the shores of Masinga dam to the rising cases of child rape and wife battering our parliamentarians could do so much more than they are doing right now.
As it is it seems their voices have been overshadowed by that of the men seeing that after the Njoki bill there hasn’t been any brought up by a female that has been made into law.
When the Kibunja report on ethnicity was released it should also have highlighted gender parity or disparity especially in the upper echelons of civil service.I can say without a shadow of a doubt that most of the people at the top are men and though we have equally educated women they do not seem to be getting appointed.
So why have women joined the men and playing by the rule book that has been preset?it is because they have realized that to win especially in the corridors of political or corporate world you need to toughen up and play hard ball.If they want to heard,they need to have more representation in all levels of government,they need to get involved in their communities,get involved in political parties,get involved in elections and shout to the high heavens to be heard among all the din and ruckus the men are causing.
Roseann Barr an American actress and writer was once quoted as saying”the thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.”As much as we are assured of equality we also need to take up the opportunities already available in our midst.Let more women show up for the coming elections next year,let us see more female heads in financial institutions and as vice chancellors of universities.If we do not take up the opportunities that are up for grabs definitely they will go the next man waiting in the wings.Let more women stop hiding their lamps under bushels by acting like men,let them show the world what being a woman is all about virtue,honesty,empathy,diligence and hard work.