As is elsewhere in Kenya, women in Kiambu County fared badly in the 2013 General Election.
Only four out of the 60 elected Members of County Assembly are women.
These are Cecilia Wamaitha (Gatuanyaga Ward), Ms Elizabeth Muthoni (Kamenu), Ms Margaret Mwago (Kiuu) and Ms Anne Nyambura (Ikinu).
The election of few women at national level contributed to the stalemate over the two-thirds gender rule, which stipulates that no sex should form less than a third of any elective agencies.
In the Kiambu County, the problem was addressed with 27 nominations to the assembly.
This is one of the issues that has hobbled devolution.
If these women were elected, Kiambu County would have only 60 MCAs and not 87, meaning the money used on salaries and allowances for the extra 27 could be channelled to development.
As another election looms, Kiambu County women are determined — against many odds — to go for elective positions.
They include Ms Wairimu Kagi, who was among those nominated as MCA but is now interested in the Nyatuna Ward seat.
Ms Kagi hopes to use the political experience and skills she has gained in 13 years to win.
She plunged into politics in 2002 when she joined the campaign team of Kanu’s presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, who lost to National Rainbow Coalition’s Mwai Kibaki.
But Ms Kagi did not lose hope. She continued working behind the scenes as she bid her time.
In 2013, she again campaigned for Mr Kenyatta and was happy when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared him winner.
The politician’s efforts were rewarded by her party with nomination to the county assembly where she is a member of two committees: Agriculture, livestock and fisheries and youth, sports and communications.
Her star has been on the rise since then.
Last year, Ms Kagi was elected organising secretary of the Kiambu County Women MCA caucus.
The objective of the group is to get a platform to articulate issues affecting women and children.
Members are also seeking to ensure that they get visibility in the media and that the voice of the women leaders — elected and nominated — are heard on important matters, not on sideshows.
As the leader of the caucus, Ms Kagi has used her mobilisation skills to influence policies and legislation that improve the lot of Kiambu women, youth and the disabled.
Having learnt the ropes, she now has her eyes on an elective seat, saying women leaders should use the two-thirds gender rule as a springboard for top elective positions.
Ms Kagi’s first taste of community mobilisation was when she worked as a social worker with the youth in Mathare and Kariobangi slums, Nairobi under ‘Maisha’, a United Nations sponsored anti-drugs and alcohol abuse programme.
It was during that time that she came face to face with challenges young people faced, especially those addicted to drugs and alcohol.
She helped rehabilitate the victims by ensuring they had at least one meal a day and a central place where they could take a bath and watch television.
That ensured they kept away from drugs.
Ms Kagi was also part of a team that went around the slums preaching against drugs.
The group appealed to young people to keep off drugs and alcohol. Those already into it were advised to go for rehabilitation.
Fast forward to 2013. She knew her contribution to The National Alliance would earn her nomination.
ALL ON MERIT
But things did not go according to plan. Even after having her name on the list, some wheeler-dealers still tried to frustrate Ms Kagi from getting the coveted seat.
In fact, one politician went as far as trying to bribe her party officials to replace Ms Kagi’s name but the scheme failed.
“I had nightmares about the nominated seat. There were several lists presented to the Registrar of Political Parties. I was on the first list and fought hard until I got the nomination,” she said.
She actually had to take the matter to court.
“Most women were nominated on merit. There have been reports that we used other means to get to the county assembly,” she said.
“As a ward representative, I have been fighting for the people and my party. I have to balance between the two. At times, we feel like we are between a rock and a hard place when voting.”
Ms Kagi says she has used her office and influence in the county assembly to promote youth-friendly policies and legislation.
Her background as a social worker has come in handy.
“As leaders, we must be very sensitive and articulate properly how we deal with the youth,” she said.
She hopes the investments she has put in place and the support she is providing to her constituency, will pay off in August when she contests the Nyatuna Ward seat in Kabete Constituency. (AWC Features)