Zarina Patel, a feminist and one of the few Kenyans from the South Asian origin who championed for the rights of many during the Moi’s authoritarian era once lamented in her biography Zarina Patel, An Indomitable spirit by Dr. George Gona that women cannot accept male dominance at home and claim to challenge it in public. She portrayed women in leadership positions particularly those in key political echelons as hypocrites who during the electioneering period present themselves as feminists and taking advantage of the feminism agenda as a catalyst to clinch seats.
These women rarely do anything to challenge the dominance of their male counterparts but are rather swallowed, remain tribal ensnared and dance to the tune of non beneficial political rhetoric as it is the nature of Kenyan politics. Zarina’s understanding of a feminist is ‘a person who understands /recognizes that women are oppressed as a sex and is willing to carry out an uncompromising struggle to end that oppression.’
As Kenyans head to the polls, there have been many calls to elect more women. Ironically these calls are being made by men who seem to be the holders of the infrastructure of feminism ideology in comparison to women. This vividly predicts that the Kenyan woman doesn’t necessarily suffer from the dominance of their opposite sex but rather another major problem-probably a problem that has no name.
Betty Freidan, an American author, once said rights have a dull sound after they have been achieved. The 2010 constitution provided for the representation of women at the august house by the elected women representative. Kenyans are now heading to the second polls under this constitution and many, women electorate to be precise have seen no significance regarding the roles of the women rep with some having literally forgotten who their representatives were.
Aspiring women candidates seeking to be re-elected are now hovering around with eloquent platitudes and clichés confusing the electorate by lamenting how their potential to lead has been futile because their fellow male counterparts have been a stumbling block whenever they want to champion their course.
Women leaders need to wake up from their cocoon of ignorance and realize that potentiality to lead is not same as leading from the front. They need to stop campaigning on the basis of how women have been oppressed but stick to their ideologies of how they will ensure that the rights of the women and the marginalized have been advocated for. They also need to stop identifying themselves as akina mama but as able leaders. As watetezi not as wanasiasa. Presenting themselves as mothers vividly shows that they come second and that there exists other father figures above them.
With the little resources that they have, they need to do few significant efforts to counter patriarchy. Free seats, gender rules and political nominations just signify that women’s voices are controlled from other quarters. Political goodwill alone will not help the women find their niche but rather commitment in trying to understand their problem and creating proper channels of finding a solution.