It is no secret that the formerly solid relationship between Roots Party of Kenya 2022 Presidential Candidate Prof George Wajackoya and his running mate Justina Wamae is shattered. The once dynamic duo are now strange bedfellows following internal party wrangles that saw Justina formally resign as a member of Roots Party on September 22, 2022.
Undeniably, the political environment in Kenya is largely hostile for women in politics and what happened to Justina Wamae could happen to any other woman. Besides grappling with political party dynamics, which deliberately locks out women from party or elective positions, female politicians often lament over financial challenges to fund their campaigns.
They also have to face patriarchal attitudes which tend to favour male candidates whereas, women aspirants are judged on matters below the belt and not above the neck. For women aspirants, marital status and whether they have children is a political risk and could easily form the basis of loss in elections.
For Justina, despite ducking most of these challenges, Roots Party only awarded her the running mate position after seeking her husband’s approval.
Luckily, “My husband accompanied me to the interview and the party sought his approval before allowing me to join politics,” she said on Her Standards.
Getting the job involved submitting an application after which she was invited for an interview..
“A post was sent in a women leader’s forum, that the Roots Party of Kenya was looking for a running mate. I applied for the vacancy using the CV I sent in 2018 for the Permanent Secretary position. Later, I was called for an interview,” she said.
There were nine candidates including men. Four women and five men, all of whom she beat to clinch the job and make history as Kenya's first female running mate in presidential elections, since independence.
Growing up, we were told that women in politics were bad girlfriends and poor wives
“I loved the Roots Party because they were bringing human resources into politics, contrary to the norm in the majority of political parties in Kenya,”Justina said, explaining that the Roots Party secretariat is headed by a retired judge.
Despite this experience, Justina has lauded Kenyan men for being progressive and she is grateful to her man for being her biggest cheerleader.
“Growing up, we were told that women in politics were bad girlfriends and poor wife material,” yet he has always believed in her ambition, despite seeking a higher political office than him in 2017 elections.
“My husband and I met in politics in 2017. I was vying for an MP seat in Mavoko County and he wanted to be an MCA,” she said, adding that the rest is history.
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Globally, women and girls continue to hold unrealized potential,
as the wheels of change in women's empowerment turn rather slowly. Yet women’s
equal participation and leadership in political and public life are