NJERI THORNE: SHE WANTS TO LIGHT UP LANG’ATA

NJERI THORNE / “I don’t think they [woman reps] are taken se­ri­ously. The po­si­tion has been sex­u­al­ized: I hope this is some­thing that the next dis­pen­sa­tion can change.”

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - BY JULIUS OTIENO @juliu­so­tieno04

NJERI Thorne has, since 2013, been seek­ing to un­der­stand why most women are re­luc­tant to con­test for po­lit­i­cal seats in Kenya.

De­spite women’s very pow­er­ful mo­bil­i­sa­tion char­ac­ter and the fact that they do a lot in com­mu­nity build­ing, they are not in­volved in pol­i­tics, and their voices are rarely heard.

Thorne con­cludes women them­selves are afraid of pol­i­tics. Or they don’t know how to get in­volved in pol­i­tics; they lack re­sources; or it’s just the case that Kenyans just pre­fer male lead­er­ship, gen­er­ally.

Since es­tab­lish­ing th­ese facts she has been ap­pear­ing on TV shows and writ­ing po­lit­i­cal opin­ion col­umns in the na­tional news­pa­pers, en­cour­ag­ing women to run for po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions and defuse the no­tion that po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions are the pre­serve of men.

“I have been writ­ing opin­ion pieces hop­ing to nor­malise the fact that women should have a voice in pol­i­tics,” says the Lang’ata par­lia­men­tary seat as­pi­rant. Thorne re­grets the fact that the 47 Woman MP po­si­tions cre­ated by the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion as part of Af­fir­ma­tive Ac­tion lack rel­e­vance.

“I don’t think they [woman reps] are taken se­ri­ously. The po­si­tion has been sex­u­al­ized: I hope this is some­thing that the next dis­pen­sa­tion can change.”

The 36-year-old mother of two says her de­ci­sion to join elec­tive pol­i­tics is to en­act laws that will em­power women, the youth and the less un­for­tu­nate.

“I would like to go to Par­lia­ment and legislate in favour of the peo­ple…It is not nec­es­sar­ily a fe­male agenda, but it is some­thing I feel very strongly about,” she ex­plains.

“I will be great in leg­is­la­tion, I can ar­tic­u­late is­sues well; I have got dif­fer­ent ideas, I am able to stand up and debate in Par­lia­ment.”

Thorne says most of the cur­rent lead­ers have lost touch with the elec­torate. They are un­able to come up with in­no­va­tive ways to solve the mod­ern-day prob­lems that face Kenyans, espe­cially the youth and women.

Lang’ata is viewed as a Cord strong­hold, but Thorne de­clares she un­der­stands it; its con­stituents and the prob­lems they face.

“The con­stituency is very cos­mopoli­tan and mostly made up of young peo­ple. I have a good chance be­cause I am young.”

Lang’ata res­i­dents, she says, are grap­pling with a high rate of in­se­cu­rity, heavy traf­fic jams, short­age of wa­ter and burst sew­ers and lack of jobs for youth.

She is promis­ing to dou­ble the num­ber of jobs by cre­at­ing a 24-hour econ­omy. If elected, she will bring elec­tric­ity to ev­ery part of the con­stituency. She will also im­prove se­cu­rity, so that busi­nesses can stay open for longer hours and em­ploy al­most dou­ble the staff be­cause they can do two shifts.

“I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO PAR­LIA­MENT AND LEGISLATE IN FAVOUR OF THE PEO­PLE… IT IS NOT NEC­ES­SAR­ILY A FE­MALE AGENDA”

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