Asenath Kaimuri says when women combine their efforts, the impacts and contribution towards policy and legislative development is more extensive than individual efforts.
This is in reference to the newly formed Meru County women caucus aimed at championing for the inclusion of women in political governance and development processes.
“We operate in an environment that does not accord women a space to participate in the governance and political processes despite the right to equal representation from both genders having been enshrined in the Constitution. I knew the only way to make our voices louder in the County Assembly is to have all women legislators working together with a common goal to push the women agenda,” says Kaimuri.
Kaimuri is the chairperson for the Meru Women Legislative Association (MEWOLA); a caucus of women legislators at the County Assembly of Meru formed to chat the path for the women agenda owing to the cultural challenges that underpins political representation in the County.
The Caucus is headed by a secrteriate that includes, the Chairperson, Vice Chair, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer.
During the 2017 general elections, only two women were directly elected to the County Assembly of Meru. 21 members were nominated by the various political parties to fill in the gender threshold as per the Constitutional provisions of the two-thirds gender principle.
“Most elected MCAs are men and they feel they have more rights than the women when it comes to appointment in the House committees. At first none of the women were elected to chair the committees but after push and pull from the women legislators, only one was given a slot to chair the County Cohesion and Devolved Unit Committee,” she says.
“The Committee positions were politicized as well. The criteria used was regionalized based on the Wards which only factored the male membership in the Assembly leaving out of the key policy decision making processes,” adds Kaimuri noting that the environment for women leadership has since changed.
That did not however deter them from pushing forward to have their voices heard. Their persistence garnered then positions as the vice chair of the house committees…name them.
Today the MEWOLA is in the process of drafting a strategic plan that would guide their operations in the coming five years. Key among the strategic focus is the enactment of the Meru County Sexual and Gender Based Violence policy for an effective prevention and response of GBV and create budgets that are gender sensitive.
“We aspire to create strategic partnerships wit state and non-state actors to ensure gender issues are mainstreamed in the county.” She explains.
In the last County Integrated Development Plan, gender issues were not well articulated posing a challenge to the implementation of projects that adhere to the issues of inclusivity including people living with disability.
For decades CREAW has been working to equip women with the knowledge to be able to challenge societal norms that underpins their ascension to appointive and elective positions. With the knowledge, the women gain the confidence to engage with key decision makers on accountability issues on the rights of women and girls. Through that; they are also able to vie and get elected into the county and national assembly and able to influence key policies that enables for the actualization of the inclusion of women in the development processes as well us address the scourge of gender based violence in the communities.