Women are likely to be elected for the first time to some of Kenya’s powerful governor positions after making historic gains in party primaries this week, experts said, heralding a political breakthrough for the patriarchal society.
Kenya has East Africa’s lowest female representation in parliament - at 19 percent - and women have struggled to make gains in the face of violence, intimidation and sexism.
That looks set to change in August’s elections.
“This time, at least two women are almost guaranteed for the position,” said Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at Nairobi’s United States International University.
“They might win because they have proven themselves as capable leaders in previously held positions.”
Kenyans will vote for their president, parliament and county representatives on Aug 8.
The ruling Jubilee party and the opposition National Super Alliance, known by its acronym NASA, both elected women to run as county governors in primaries concluding on Sunday.
None of Kenya’s 47 counties, which manage local infrastructure, are headed by a female governor, an influential position overseeing budgets worth billions of shillings.
The counties get about 20 percent of national revenues. They can also raise local taxes. In return, they must provide most health facilities, pre-schools, and local infrastructure.