Participants noted that despite the great strides the country has made through the promulgation of the new Constitution, the political environment remains hostile to women candidates, which they said, had impeded their participation in the political process.
Some of the factors that were noted include the nature of patriarchal society in Kenya, lack of internal democracy within political parties, the absence of political to implement gender mainstream initiative and a biased media that has reduced women candidates to sexual objects.
Ms Betty Mugo, who is the head of gender and inclusivity at USAID, said the cost of electioneering in Kenya is too high, thus hindering many women from participating.
She noted that fees required by political parties for nomination and huge expenditure outlay on the campaign trail are too high and the end product is that it denied women an opportunity to participate.
“Women have to spend too much before the primaries and if they are not successful, the cost and time for filing petition at the disputes tribunal literally peeves women candidates who opt to let go,” she said.
She hailed the gender principle pointing out that it had given women lobby groups the legitimacy to demand more political representation.
“Even though we have not actualised the gender principle, we have made significant progress because through our advocacy the rule has retained the issue on the table of discussion,” she said.
Ms Anne Nderitu, who works at the electoral commission as electoral trainer, challenged the women to be more decisive in their political interest saying that most of them dither a lot and join the race very late which undermines the impact of their candidature.
“Women come into the race late, sometimes just six months to the elections and are never sure which seat they want to contest. Decisiveness is required from women aspirants,” she said
Speakers at the event cited reasons that have impeded the implementation of the one third gender rule, noting the political will required is lacking from the patriarchal state to ensure it is implemented.
While they acknowledged the cost implications of implementing the gender rule, they however insisted the state must pick up the bill because the estimated cost of running the government without the participation of women and other marginalised groups is a lot higher.