FEATURE: Women with disability fight for political space ahead of August 9 polls

Delfina Gaiteng’a Mutuaruchiu (Center) in the campaign tral

By MN Reporter

While women have always been sidelined in political leadership, those with disability have been facing double discrimination.

Women Challenged to Challenge an organisation has been working to reverse the trend with just over two months to the August 9 general elections.

Verah Robi, a programme officer at the organisation said they have been empowering women and with just concluded primaries they still have a lot to cover.

Robi said they have worked with 735 women with disability in 20 counties in several level of political process and they had a target of having at least 20 candidates picked for the ballot.

“We fell short as we only have two candidates ahead of polls, most fell through the nomination process as party candidate and we hope they will be nominated in both county and national assemblies, part from other positions,” Robi said.

Jacky Bartenge an officer with the organisation said their work involved “translating most rules and policies for aspirants in braille for the blind and have sign language interpreters for the deaf in rallies.”

“We first need to ensure the election process, from campaign trails, nomination process and policy formulation and party structure is disability friendly. We are happy than in major rallies parties have been hiring sign language interpreters,” she said.

The activists said parties should ensure women with Disability are in party positions and nominations lists both at county and national level.

Migori nominated MP Dennitah Ghati interacting with PwDs in campaign tral

Delfina Gaiteng’a Mutuaruchiu, 52, a politician from Meru county who vied for Woman Representative seat on UDA ticket in primaries and for Municipality ward in the last polls said women with disability have an uphill task at the ballot.

“When it comes to women in politics, the terrain is rough. But it gets rougher when you are a woman politician with disability, after vying twice I have realised when people have a chance to do away with you they can be cold and fast,” Delfina Gaiteng’a Mutuaruchiu, 52, said.

Mutuaruchiu, a dental surgeon with a degree from Australia Sydney University lost the primaries for Karambu Kailemia.

Mutuaruchiu suffered a dislocated hip as a child which was made worse during fracas in the 2007 post election violence which has affected her movement greatly.

“There are things in politics which look normal especially in a rally and voters may not understand, like I can never climb on a vehicle rooftop to address a rally and where podiums luck rumps I’ll never make it,” she said.

She said because of her conditions, she could easily be left out in protocol in rallies as she can be edged out in sitting in the podium.

“First women in Kenya have not been accepted as leaders, there are people who want to ask you who is your husband as if you need to belong to a man equally since politics is done in odd hours with long terrain which causes discomfort to us,” she said.

Women Challenged to Challenge training political aspirants ahead of next polls

Her sentiments were shared by nominated MP Dennitah Ghati who is representing PwDs in parliament and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate for Migori Woman Representative seat in the next polls.

“In a place where a normal person can walk or take a motorbike, people with disability must us a taxi which shows how expensive. Equally a normal five step stair case to a podium can be a marathon to someone on wheelchair,” Ghati pointed out.

Ghati was first elected as Migori Woman Representative in 2013 polls, a fatal road accident at Ntulele in Narok county on March 2014 as she was rushing for parliament opening confined her into a wheelchair.

Ghati sits at the ODM national governing council to represent minority groups and is the chair of Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disability (CPwD) which is a global body.