Women contestants press on despite major hurdles

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By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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Some are crisscrossing their wards on foot, others by boda bodas.

Some are mounting door-to-door campaign, while others are using matatus and markets as strategic rallying points to woo voters to back them barely a fortnight to the General Election.

Armed with copies of their manifesto, the women candidates who are eying member of county assembly (MCAs) slots in the 74-member House have hit the campaign trail.

Their message is: they are up to the task and are out to improve the well-being of Nakuru County residents through good leadership.

Some of these women candidates are using megaphones whose batteries run out in the middle of their speeches, and majority lack adequate resources, but their resolve has not been dampened.

Many have not displayed a single poster in their wards, but they are still determined to win.

The never say die candidates are proving that the “strength of a woman” cannot be wished away easily.

While majority are running as independents, others are vying on parties in a county that is perceived to be a Jubilee stronghold.

Their day breaks at the wee hours of the morning and ends past midnight, as they strive to convince voters to give them an opportunity to turn around their fortunes.

EXPERIENCE
Ms Risper Ouma, who is vying for the densely populated Kivumbini ward as an Independent, says she is the most qualified.

“I want to uplift the lives of residents of Kivumbini ward who are neglected. And as a former councillor, I have enough experience to change the
poor living standards of the residents,” she says.

She says she has endured insults from male candidates but she is still soldiering on.

“I have been called unprintable names by male aspirants and their supporters in a bid to discourage me but I will not surrender,” she adds.

TENDERS
Ms Irene Chebichi, 30, who is vying for the Soin ward seat, in Rongai sub-county, on a Jubilee ticket, says as a young candidate, she will fight for proper representation of the young people in the county Assembly.

“The young people in my ward are yet to enjoy the fruits of devolution and my aim is to make sure they enjoy the 30 per cent tenders
awarded at the ward level so that they can uplift their living standards,” Ms Chebichi, who is a nominated MCA, says.

WATER
She says top on her wish list is to make sure there is a modern maternity facility and availability of clean drinking water.

“I would not like to see women giving birth on the road side and residents drinking dirty water yet the county has enough resources
to change this bad situation,” she says.

Another determined candidate, who claims she was robbed of victory in the Jubilee Party primaries, is Ms Florence Njoroge, who is out to retain the Elburgon ward seat as an Independent.

“The Jubilee primaries were a sham. I will fight to the end and make sure the projects I started are completed.”

WORK DONE
She mentioned improved infrastructure, improving early childhood education, drilling boreholes and equal disbursement of bursaries to students in her ward as some of her achievements.

Besides spearheading many development projects, Ms Njoroge says she played her oversight and legislative roles well, and that is why she is seeking for a second term.

“I have sponsored at least four Bills and one critical Bill I am proud of is the regulation of bursaries Bill, which has seen many needy students pursue their dreams,” she adds.

DEMOCRACY
Additionally, Ms Janet Wamaitha, who is vying for the Subukia ward position as an Independent, says she lost in the nomination that she claims was flawed.

“The Subukia residents were denied their democratic right to elect their preferred leader and that is why I have opted to vie as an independent candidate,” she says.

At the same time, Kanu’s flag-bearer for the Flamingo ward seat, Ms Julian Njeri Kuria, says she is ready to wrestle with the Jubilee candidate for the seat.

“For a long time, Flamingo ward has had bad representation with leaders doing nothing to end the runaway youth unemployment and drug addiction, which has reduced many potential youths to zombies,” Ms Kuria observes.

RELENTLESS
She says aside from lack of finance, she has had to fight of condescension in meetings that are dominated by male candidates.

“In some meetings I am not even given a chance to sell my agenda and when I am given [an opportunity], the time is reduced to less than five minutes,” she laments.

However, she says she will continue with door-to-door campaigns to convince the residents to vote for her.

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