Governor Waiguru says election of seven women governors marks beginning of a new era

Kirinyaga County governor Anne Waiguru has said that the election of seven women governors in the just concluded elections marks the beginning of a new era in which more women will be in top leadership positions in Kenya. Waiguru was elected among six other governors namely Cecily Barire- Embu, Kawira Mwangaza- Meru, Susan Kihika- Nakuru, Wavinya Ndeti- Machakos, Fatuma Achani-Kwale and Gladys Wanga- Homabay. She said that even though it’s very difficult for a woman to clinch a political seat in a highly patriarchal society such as Kenya, women are ready to fight it out for leadership space.

The governor was speaking in a stakeholders’ luncheon after her swearing in ceremony on Tuesday, where she said that she has learnt a lot of valuable lessons during her campaigns. “I have learnt that the electorate will not just elect someone because of the work they have done but there are other dynamics that determine whether one has to be elected. I will therefore be using my position to mentor and empower other women who aspire to take up leadership positions.” She said. She added that there is great need for civic education to change the mindset of a society that is highly skeptical about women leadership. She said that she was very excited about the election of more women governors since it will now be easier for them to articulate gender issues at the policy making levels of the Council of Governors, expressing hope that the next general elections will bring at least 10 elected female governors.

Governor Waiguru who was first elected as a governor in 2017 with two other women- former Kitui governor Charity Ngilu and the late Joyce Laboso of Bomet, – said it was not easy for only two women to sit at a table with 45 men especially when it came to making decisions that require gender lenses. She, however, expressed gratitude to the people of Kirinyaga for warming up to women leadership, citing the election of Martha Karua as Member of Parliament for 20 years which blazed the trail making it easier for the electorate to elect her as governor in 2017 and subsequently in 2022. “Being the first woman governor in Mt. Kenya, I am very happy that the region is now leading with three women governors which is a demonstration of how progressive we have become.” She said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Governors, Mary Mwiti, who also attended the event, congratulated Waiguru for having been re-elected and being the only seven women governors elected in the current regime. She noted that Waiguru’s election was a culmination of her determination, courage and vision and is historic since she is also one of the few governors who have been re-elected. She noted that the COG is waiting in bated breath to usher in the largest number of female governors so far and pledged the support of COG to the governors in the fight against drawbacks such as delayed funds to counties among others.

The Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Caroline Vicini, who also graced the event, said that Kirinyaga was a great example of a growing democracy that has embraced women leadership. The envoy said that the county had set a great example by rewarding good work that the governor had done and re-electing her. She said that the Swedish government is very active in promoting democracy and electing a woman was a demonstration of a growing democracy.

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