In a democracy, all the political contenders are expected to play on an even field. Every candidate has a right to market his or her ideas freely and without any threat or intimidation. However, in our circumstances, female candidates and youth are finding it extremely difficult to campaign. Female candidates, meeting this week under the aegis of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, have expressed concern over rising cases of violence, which manifest deep-seated gender biases.
The candidates spoke of physical assault, insults and threats from opponents. They are ridiculed and humiliated to bring them down. Consequently, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Nkaissery has pledged to enhance security for them and IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati has asked them to report any incidents of violence so that action can be taken. Fair enough, but this does not tackle the real problem, namely, gender bias.
We have male chauvinists who can not fathom women taking key leadership roles and are wont to use retrogressive and sexist tactics. This must stop. The government must provide adequate security and the IEBC must take action against the male politicians and their supporters who intimidate or attack women. The authorities must create a conducive environment for women to campaign freely and peacefully.