By Iminza Keboge
Published June 24, 2017
Players in the arts and culture sector in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, have set aside a week to discuss and analyse the place of women in politics as Kenyans prepare for the general elections on August 8, 2017
Organised by Goethe-Institut and Alliance Française with the support of the French-German Cultural Fund and the European Union Delegation in Kenya, and running June 26-30 at Alliance Francaise, participants–artists, experts and the general public–shall explore and compare the challenges encountered by women in decision-making and political processes in Kenya, France and Germany on the topic, Women in Politics:Udada na Siasa.
Accompanying panel discussions shall be a digital art exhibition on June 28 at 6:30 PM and a puppet theatre performance on June 30 at 7:00 PM. Twitter chats and a multi-media film shall also have their place as participants reflect on the place of women in politics from the perspectives of the electorate and the politicians.
The art show–titled Women in Politics: A Multimedia View–shall feature Judith Darmont, an interdisciplinary and sensorial digital artist from France who experiments with digital techniques to create cutting-edge installations and digital happenings; Sonya Schönberger from Germany who will give the stage to a young representative of the Greens Party to tell her story of how she entered politics; and Jepchumba from Kenya who describes her work as conversations between multiple generations simultaneously.
Tunaweza, the participatory life-size puppet theatre performance by Buni Media, on the other hand, shall use the power of narrative and humorous storytelling to explore the dynamics of women’s participation as election candidates, politicians and voters in the Kenyan political landscape and examine attitudes and challenges that hinder women’s participation.
Soma comparison to put the topic in perspective and context is in order here.
Although Angela Merkel has been in the office of the chancellor in Germany since 2005, only about 33 % of the members of the Federal German Parliament are women. The old idea that women should focus on Kinder, Kirche, und Küche (children, church, and kitchen) still holds sway in this Europe’s largest economy. Here, the way to a political office is solely through engagement in the parties and the male-dominated hierarchies.
In France, some 223 women have been elected to France’s lower house in 2017. With 38.65% of seats in the National Assembly, the election marks a new record for female representation in the French parliament. The number of Women in the 577-seat National Assembly still falls short of true equality in representation.
In Kenya, women are struggling to make gains in politics in the face of violence, intimidation and sexism.
Can anything be done to level the playing field for women in Kenya’s political landscape?