Women in Politics

Women in Politics: The elusive glass Ceiling

Tuesday, November 11, 2016 was a day that bore bounds of promise for many, especially women world over. After decades of demonstrations of their worth, value, dignity, and potential, in a still not so accommodating world, one whose privileges have for time immemorial have been granted by men, women, and men as well, were expectant of the imminent success of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s umpteenth shot at the presidency of the US of A.

With her success, Hillary Clinton would have gone on to become not just the most successful woman, but, also, the most powerful “man” in the world. Unfortunately, for many, we woke up to what were the headlines of the following day, like Daily Nation’s – a Kenyan leading daily – America Does The Unthinkable.

Further “analysis” was to the effect that; “they could have elected Hillary Clinton, a smart politician, with 30 years of experience and, granted, a few closets of skeletons”. Instead, “they chose foul-mouthed, casino owner and showman with an alligator-sized ego, and, reportedly, the sexual morals of an alley cat”. The punctuation mark was a brief “let the Donald J. Trump show begin”.

That was just before Martha Karua, a prominent, well respected Kenyan woman and former presidential candidate, enabled a conundrum of her own, thanks to a decision she made and announced on Thursday, November 10, 2016. After spending five years claiming that Jubilee government is corrupt, Martha Karua defeated her own principle by choosing to surrender her fight and endorsing Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president in order for her to run for a gubernatorial seat, and him, Uhuru Kenyatta, to stay on the presidential course without much opposition.

The most pertinent issues, like, Hillary’s case, the leakage of controversial emails, and, in Martha’s, a departure from her principles, could have cost them a presidency and public trust respectively, but, sadly, the least important will, like they normally tend to, take centre stage.

Issues of tribalism, which we, the voters, and not them, the leaders (re: Martha Karua) are to be blamed for will, and have already been targeted towards her – Martha Karua. Hate speech, as illustrated by the vocal Deputy President, William Ruto, who “used her” turn of events and fortunes to paint the opposition in a bad light has been fuelled even more. General negative attitudes towards women, such as their “inability” or “unreadiness” to hold top political office, especially in this “a man’s world” still subsist.

Without a doubt, it is apparent that, of all reasons or issues upon which a candidate can be elected, most of those relied upon are those dictated by unfathomable biases aimed at or to or against women, which is rather unfair.

Under the title, Equality and Freedom From Discrimination, the Constitution Of The Republic Of Kenya, 2010 provides, in Article 27 (6) that; women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

Discrimination is defined, in Article 21 (3) of the Constitution Of The Republic Of Uganda, 1995, as to mean; to give different treatment to different persons attribute only or mainly to their respective descriptions by sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed, or religion, social or economic standing, political opinions or disability.

The above are, really, the most basic, but important, requirements for the peaceful, meaningful and resourceful coexistence of the two different dichotomies wherever in the world they happen to exist and interact. Our commentary or reactions should embrace the direction described above, and not be rash enough to make women ever question their participation, contribution and chances.

In a world that has given us able leaders like Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, examples of  women who beat competing men to the presidencies of their countries, the idea of a female presidency or leadership is not and should never be foreign to us.

Like in Hillary’s case, the quest to tear through the glass ceiling of politics may not be successful for women – yet, but we owe it to them to be encouraging and motivating of all their efforts. She may not have necessarily lost because of gender, but, that, indeed, she was a poor candidate, however, if it is ever the case for any other lady, one who gets as close enough as Hillary did, we pray and hope that it will be opposed with all the force that it deserves.

Just as in Hillary’s case, again, we – both the little girls she specifically addressed, and little boys – should never doubt that we are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.   


This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy Vol 8, Issue 2 of November 11th, 2016

To receive The Deuteronomy in real time, click HERE.

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