The first set of female governors and senators could be elected in the August 8 poll as aspirants jostle to outdo their male counterparts in the tough political duel.
The entry of two former presidential candidates in the race to occupy the top-most seats at the county level has heightened the quest for other women to grab the seats which became the exclusive ‘47 men’s Club’ in the 2013 poll.
Narc leader and former Lands Cabinet secretary Charity Ngilu is eyeing the Kitui governor seat against incumbent Julius Malombe while her Narc-Kenya counterpart Martha Karua aka “Iron Lady” will be gunning for the Kirinyaga seat that has also attracted former powerful Devolution Cabinet secretary Ann Waiguru.
Ngilu ran for the presidency in 1997 on the Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket while Karua tried her hand for the same in 2013 on her Narc-K ticket. But it will not be an easy ride for them—Ngilu also face off two strong challenge from whoever clinches the Wiper ticket between Kitui Senator David Musila and governor Malombe.
In Kirinyaga, the Jubilee members will have to decide between the current Governor Joseph Ndathi and Waiguru to face Karua.
According to the list presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by political parties, 31 female aspirants have expressed interest to take up on the two influential positions at the devolved government.
Other than Ngilu and Karua who are assured of being in the ballot through their political outfits, the rest will have to battle with the males for the party primaries which are scheduled to end by next Tuesday to be on the ballot come August 8.
The lists presented by different political parties indicate that there are 10 governor candidates for the Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance (Nasa) affiliate parties which are the major contenders in the coming election.
The only ODM woman aspirant, Anne Anyanga, is vying to unseat Migori Governor Okoth Obado. She is the wife of Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga who will also face other opponents in his quest to fight for a third term in office.
Machakos Wiper candidate Wavinya Ndeti is also hoping to ride on the popularity of the party to edge out Governor Alfred Mutua, who has since formed Maendeleo Chap Chap which he intends to use as his re-election vehicle.
In Embu, Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire will face off with Senator Lenny Kivuti and Governor Martin Wambora.
In Bomet, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso will face Governor Isaac Ruto, who has decamped to Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) and former Konoin MP Julius Kones.
Former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru who vied for the Senate seat in 2013 has now shifted her focus to the Nairobi governor on a Jubilee ticket before facing ODM’s Evans Kidero at the ballot on August 8.
In Ford Kenya, Catherine Nabwala has resolved to go for Trans Nzoia county’s top seat.
For the senate seat, the pack is led by Mombasa deputy governor Hazel Katana, who has shifted to the Jubilee Party, Joyce Lay who is gunning for the Taita Taveta seat, Carolyne Chilango for Kilifi while Monica Kirunyu has expressed interest in capturing the Lamu county slot.
The fiercest battle will, however, be experienced in Nandi county where three women will be among 15 candidates fighting it out to replace Stephen Sang, who has opted for the governor’s seat. The three include Mary Mengech, Stella Ruto and Anne Sainna. In Uasin Gishu county, former minister Margaret Kamar will seek the Jubilee ticket to vie for the Senate seat while Victorine Kapkiai is eyeing the same in the party primary to be conducted today.
Nakuru Speaker Susan Kihika and rival Josepha Mambo will also fight it out for the Jubilee ticket against six other candidates in the primaries.
Other Jubilee female candidates include Sheile Githaiga (Nyeri), Margaret Ndehi (Kiambu), Saphina Chelagat (Baringo), Christine Ndoigo (Baringo), Caroline Chege (Kajiado), Saida Chepkemoi (Bomet) and Hellen Makone from Nyamira.
ODM has Beatrice Kitiabi for Trans Nzoia, Margaret Adhiambo Oketch for Siaya and Rose Kisia contesting in Kisumu.