Kenyan Women With Disability Decry Unfavourable Political Atmosphere

Kenyan Women With Disability Decry Unfavourable Political Atmosphere (News Central TV)

Following series of reports of discrimination against persons living with disabilities, especially with regards to vying for elective positions, Kenyan women in similar circumstances have spoken up about their challenges.

Ahead of the August 2022 elections in Kenya, women living with disabilities have called for a smooth playground, while expressing dissatisfaction with the kind of unfavourable political atmosphere that is usually made available to them.

“When it comes to women in politics, the terrain is rough. But it gets rougher when you are a woman politician with disability. After vying twice, I have realised that when people have a chance to do away with you, they can be cold and fast,” observes Migori County MCA nominated candidate, Ms Esther Onana.

She recounted her tough experience while contesting as a physically challenged female aspirant.

“Ahead of the primaries, the trail was tougher because of my condition. Despite being a crowd puller, I met a lot of resistance from voters who discriminated against my condition,” she said.

Ms Onaha notes that politics is a tough game to play, especially for living with disabilities, as it limits their potential and ability to engage in political activities. She also noted that there are little or no provisions made in the political system to favour women in politics, especially the ones who are physically challenged.

“Politics is not for the faint-hearted, especially for women politicians having disability.

“There are things in politics that look normal, especially at a rally, and voters may not understand. Like I can never climb onto the top of a vehicle to address a rally. And where podiums lack rumps, I’ll never make it.

“First, women in Kenya have not been accepted as leaders. There are people who want to ask you who are your husband as if you need to belong to a man. Equally, politics being done in odd hours and the rough terrain cause discomfort to us,” she noted.

Nominated MP Dennitah Ghati, representing Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Parliament, and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate for Migori woman representative seat, also re-echoed Onaha’s sentiments, noting that persons with disabilities face a lot of challenges, as a lot of circumstances are not favourable to them.

“In a place where a normal person can walk or take a motorbike, people with disability must use a taxi, which shows how expensive it is. Equally, a normal five-step staircases to a podium can be a marathon to someone in a wheelchair,” he said.

Activist Jacky Bartenge, has called on political parties to ensure that the needs of PwDs are prioritised so that no one is left behind.

“We first need to ensure the election process, from campaign trails, nomination process and policy formulation and party structure is disability-friendly. We are happy that at major rallies, parties have been hiring sign language interpreters,” she says.

The obstacles that a lot of PwDs, especially women when they pursue leadership positions has been under expressed. However, more concerned women are speaking up now and calling foe the change that is long overdue. Hopefully, that change will be established in no distant time.

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