It appears that the most neglected bloc in the fight for Kenya’s presidency is the most important. The 55 years old President Uhuru Kenyatta, and the 72 years old opposition leader, Raila Odinga have honed their focus on winning over the young ones, discontented tribes who have changeable loyalties, and voters in swing counties. However, about 9.4 million female Kenyan voters have been an afterthought in an election that pivots on voters.
The last election in Kenya was an apparent contest between Odinga and Kenyatta, but Kenyatta emerged winner with about 8,000 votes ahead of Odinga. From all indications, the presidential race is getting closer, and recent polls indicate that Odinga and Kenyatta are just a percentage point apart.
Kenya’s election seems to be for the young ones
The presidential race has been addressed as youthful one because voters between 18 and 35 years of age contribute 51 percent of the total voters. This grew from 46 percent during the 2013 election. However, the increased number of young voters came from the females.
Between 2013 and 2017, the number of females whose ages fall between 26 and 35 enrolling to vote got scaled up to 62 percent, unlike the 50 percent increase for males of the same age bracket. This was disclosed in an analytical data by Data Science, a research analytics firm based in Nairobi.
According to a risk consultancy firm, Maplecroft, the female votes will count in many contested areas of the country. Of the 47 counties in Kenya, twenty-one have more of registered female voters than the male counterparts. The significant part is that two out of the seven counties that are seen as swing regions have more of registered female voters – Samburu and Turkana.
Presidential candidates seem to neglect the women
None of the candidates seem to hone focus to win the votes of the women. Even Margaret, Kenyatta’s wife has campaigned for the Jubilee party among women. While addressing many women in Kiambu county outside of Nairobi, she told them to allow them to round off what they had started already, adding that Kenyatta will broaden the welfare program for the aged.
On the part of Odinga, there has been less interest on the female voters. Although he hoists his promise of starting a fund for single mothers to kick off with small businesses, he has called on women to stay away from sex with their husbands so they can vote.
Despite the fact that women are being paid less attention, the election shows that women play a significant role. Apparently, the less attention can be seen in the fact that just 19% of the parliament positions are handled by women, the poorest percentage in the East Africa. Nine women are contesting for gubernatorial positions.
In Kirinyaga county, there are only two women left in the gubernatorial race, and both are experienced in politics – a one-time parliamentarian, Martha Karua and Anne Waiguru, Kenya’s former devolution cabinet secretary.
Earlier this month, Waiguru said that it’s high time Kenyans left the idea that political positions are meant for men. As such, women must seek their political rights to deliver their vision.