FIDA Kenya wishes to congratulate all women candidates who won party nominations and have been cleared by IEBC to vie for various posts in the upcoming General Elections. We applaud them for their efforts in the campaigns. The choice to vie for a political seat is a particularly difficult decision for a woman and her family. These women are brave and we wish them all the best in their campaigns.
FIDA Kenya is however concerned with the increased rate of violence against female candidates and their supporters. Several cases of violence against women aspirants have been reported countrywide and to the FIDA Kenya offices. We specially wish to reiterate the incidences of;
The death of the bodyguard to aspiring Mbita Member of Parliament Hon. Millie Odhiambo who was run over and killed by an opponent vehicle during the party primaries and the burning of the candidates house. We also took issue with the confinement of Esther Passaris who was locked in a room to prevent her from addressing her supporters. We further took issue with the incident of Eunice Wambui an aspiring Member of Parliament Embakasi South who was attacked by rowdy youths during a campaign at Mukuru Kwa Reuben. The youth committed acts of shame against the aspirant. Another candidate was Sarah Koore who was contesting for Member of Parliament in North Laikipia had parts of her car looted while she was out campaigning. These are just a few incidences of violations that women candidates go through during elections.
FIDA Kenya was alarmed by the lack of swift action by the security agencies in all these incidences. The inaction by the police, IEBC and other concerned authorities increases the intimidation of women candidates and their supporters.
As an organisation that promotes women participation in politics and leadership, we wish to strongly condemn these violent acts and call upon the police to protect the women of Kenya.
Kenyans are coming to terms with the fact that there is an increased number of women who have braved the campaigns to run for elective seats. It is important to note that this year 9 women will be running for gubernatorial positions. We have very high chances of having our first female governors. Similarly, we have women who have come out to defend their Member of Parliament seats and those who have grown from affirmative action seats to elective seats. This is unprecedented and for sure has caused jitters among those who think women cannot be leaders. We cannot afford to let these chances be ruined by electoral violence.
Today FIDA Kenya and her likeminded partners, have launched an SMS hotline dubbed SEMA USKIKE number 21661 which will offer an opportunity to Kenyans to identify and report any form of violence meted against women candidates and their supporters. This platform will work on a real time basis during this electoral period. The Platform can be used by victims and witnesses of election violence.
Sending an SMS is FREE and the platform is very friendly. Using your mobile phone all you need to do is send a brief text to the SMS code 21661 describing the violence witnessed and providing the location of the incidence. FIDA Kenya lawyers will immediately respond to the text and inform the nearest police station for response. The lawyers will further follow up the matter with the victims and where relevant offer legal aid. The public can also call FIDA Kenya on 0722509760 / 0710607241
We wish to inform Kenyans that this platform is complementary to police services. We urge Kenyans not to hesitate to report to the nearest police station any incidences witnessed. The responsibility to ensure that the rule of law is upheld rests squarely with the police. Women voters and the candidates have the right to vote, run for office and be protected from any form of electoral violence.
As a nation we have now arrived at the forked section of the road and tough action must be taken. We must no longer skirt the issue of election violence. FIDA Kenya will continue to follow up with the police, provincial administration, IEBC and other relevant organizations to ensure that justice has been served and ensure that election violence meted against women is STOPPED.