Political analysts in Kenya say the public is beginning to accept more diversified leadership after last week’s election saw a small but record-high number of women winning office.
Kenya is a male-dominated society and the overwhelming majority of political offices are still held by men.
But in the August 9 elections, a record-high total of 22 women won seats in the National Assembly and the Senate. Women also won seven of the 47 county governor seats, up from three in the 2017 elections.
Political analysts say the results show Kenyans are becoming more comfortable with the idea of female leaders.
“I think Kenya has got to the point where it has accepted that women can lead and the fact that it’s not even a big discussion, it’s not a shock in the country that the country has definitely accepted that a woman can lead,” said Mark Bichache, a Kenyan political analyst.
Vimal Shah is the chairman of “Mkenya Daima,” a group promoting peace and unity, whose name means “Forever Kenyan” in Swahili. He was impressed that nationwide, nearly 2,000 women ran for political office.
“Women have always sought opportunity to show what they can do, especially in leadership, but now it’s coming through, and they have been supported and I think it’s impressive [there were] 1,962 women candidates. That was really brilliant,” says Shah.
In another notable development, voters in Kenya’s Bungoma county elected an albino man, Martin Wanyonyi, to the National Assembly. It’s the first time a person with albinism has won a competitive election to parliament.
Previously, Isaac Mwaura was appointed to a seat, representing special interest groups.
Analyst Bina Maseno says previously, cultural and social barriers would have kept people like Wanyonyi out of office.
“So, to see the candidates with disabilities being elected at the ballot is very impressive and a step in the right direction,” said Maseno.
The August election was the third under a constitution established in 2010. Political analysts believe that continued sensitization of the public will see Kenyans elect more diverse leaders in the future.