An accident changed Migori Women’s Representative, Dennitah Ghati’s life. She shares her struggles and triumphs
At what point in your life did you develop political ambition?
As early as I can remember. In primary school I was always was a prefect. This honed my skills for leadership. I remember at Columbia University in US, where I did my Master’s degree, one of my professors asked me if I would consider politics to change Africa.
I thought he was only joking, but he told me to get in and root out the vice. In 2008 when working with the League of Kenya Women Voters I met leaders such as Martha Karua and Ida Odinga who encouraged me to vie for a political position. I took up the challenge.
What are your views in the area of of gender equality and Affirmative Action in so far as absorbing women in public offices is concerned?
We are trying but we still need serious political goodwill. We have nothing to write home about, especially when we compare ourselves to our neighbours Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. We need commitment to achieve gender parity.
Look at the case of former deputy Inspector-General of Police Grace Kaindi, she was retired and instead of getting a woman to fill her position they gave it to a man. Society still thinks women are good at deputising. When will society see a man as also fit to deputise a woman?
You were involved in an accident in 2014 since which time you have been confined to a wheelchair.How did the accident change your life?
It is now two years since the accident occurred. It slowed me down a little bit but never killed my spirit. I have adjusted to my new status and I am making great strides in my healing process.
My opponents quickly ran to spread all manner of propaganda that I was unable to work or discharge my duties, to the extent of even collecting signatures for my recall!
The only difference now is that I use a wheelchair when I have to do tedious work that requires a lot of movement. My brain is intact, as sharp as before. I have the zeal and determination to work for my people. An accident is a life-altering experience.
How has the transition been for you, especially as a mother and a woman who was preparing to get married?
I am a mother of a six -year-old daughter who has had to adjust to my status. She is my pillar and prays for me every night. My partner has been supportive throughout the journey. He had to cut short his studies abroad to be available for me. Our wedding plans had to slow down as we concentrate on the healing process, but watch this space.
Has your political life been slowed down, if at all?
I am a hands-on person. My political life has not really slowed down although I do not frequently visit the county as much as I would have loved to. I, however, have an amazing team of staff and coordinators in the various sub-counties who are supportive.
How do fellow parliamentarians relate with you?
Parliament can be hectic. But I am glad they have been understanding. I have lost some parliamentarian friends as a result of the accident but have also created new and long-lasting ones. Majority have been there for me, encouraging and sharing new ideas and strategies.
Some of your political opponents wrote you off after the accident, What was your reaction?
They did so because they fear me. In fact am the only person they would rather combine forces to remove. I am a tree with sweet fruits that everyone wants to throw a stone at. They actually thought I was dead but they were surprised when ‘I resurrected.’
You are vocal on women rights. What have you done in Parliament to advance this cause?
The issue of women rights comes naturally to me. I have worked in various women rights organisations both locally and in New York where I studied for my Master’s degree. I have been instrumental in bringing motions to address the increasing nature of violence against women with a keen interest on Female Genital Mutilation.
Your political rivals believe that the ODM party ticket was literally handed to you as a result of political wheeler-dealing. What do you have to say about this claim?
Far from the truth. I campaigned in all the eight sub-counties of Migori County with no negotiations at all. Do you know that the nomination had actually been given to someone who came a distant third? I had to fight for that ticket at the IEBC tribunal that had been set to hear nomination disputes.
Will you defend your seat in the coming elections?
I am not done with Migori County.
In moments of gloom and pain what is the one thing that gives you the strength to face another day?
Prayer moves mountains. I am a prayerful person and determined too. I never give up easily. My heart is made of steel.
What would you do differently today if the clock was turned back 10 years?
Nothing. I would live each day as if it was my last. I have achieved a lot for my age and I thank God for everything. Becoming a Women Rep at 34 is no mean achievement.
(READ THE MAIN ARTICLE HERE:…. http://www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke/people-daily/192612/my-heart-is-made-of-steel-says-migori-womens-rep/ )