Sixteen candidates vying for two seats for the Kigali Women representative in the September 4 parliamentary elections yesterday kicked off their campaigns before hundreds of women local leaders who will have a final say on who joins the lower house.
The women leaders, all from 11 of the 15 sectors, sang and cheered as each candidate used her five minutes to outline their mission once voted into parliament. Below, our reporter Nasra Bishumba outlines what areas came at the centre stage of the campaigns.
Creating employment and lifting women was one of the highlights of the campaign where each of the 16 candidates promised to work with the government to push this agenda further. Languida Nyirabahire, who attracted the most cheers, told the women that she was prepared to fight for poor women to get start-up capital so that they can support themselves and their families.
“There is need to advance the idea of start-up capital so that every woman who is interested in working can pursue her dream and I am ready to push this until we see results,” she said.
Fighting domestic violence
Domestic violence was at the centre stage of the campaign. While Nyirabihire promised to advocate for laws that root out the issue, Janvière Isugi said she would concentrate on promoting harmonious living within families.
“The issue of domestic violence has been on the rise of recent and if you trust me to represent you in parliament, I will work hand-in-hand with others to come up with a sustainable solution,” Isugi said.
32-year old Manirankunda Gilbelle was one of the candidates to mention the issue of malnutrition. A teacher by profession, Manirankunda attracted cheers when she said that she was still single but was a parent in her capacity as an educator. She asked the voters to consider the issues that are child-related as her mission if she makes it to parliament.
“There are children who are still vulnerable. Look around your area, how many are facing malnutrition issues and have kwashiorkor as a result? how many are eating well? Are all the children in school? Do they all have decent homes? I want to make these issues my mission,” she promised.
Christiane Umuhire has a Master’s Degree in Women Development. She has worked for the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion for the last 17 years. She told the voters that if she is given the opportunity to serve in parliament, one of her priorities would be to push for laws that fight teenage pregnancies.
“I would be interested in laws that give teenage girls more opportunities to study instead of dropping out of school to care for children. I would be more keen on laws that pursue and punish adults responsible for these pregnancies,” she said.
Clementine Uwase was one of the candidates to bring up the value of promoting family planning which she said was instrumental in giving children the opportunity to live healthier lives.
“With proper family planning methods, children have an opportunity to get the upbringing they deserve, parents get a chance to plan for their families and over all, everyone wins,” she said.
How they are elected
Unlike the general elections, members of parliament are voted for by an electoral college composed of the Executive Committee of the National Women Council drawn from the council’s Provincial and Kigali City level, the district level, sector level, cell and village levels. They will be joined by the district advisory council of the voting districts.
In total, the voters will be expected to pick two candidates to represent Kigali, four to represent the Northern Province, and six candidates for each of the Eastern, Western and Southern Provinces.
Countrywide, there are 179 candidates vying for 24 women representative seats.
The Director of Communication at the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Moses Bokasa, explained to The New Times in a telephone interview that the number of seats to represent provinces and City of Kigali depends on the number of voters of that particular area.