Mercy is a new SNA-K intern who will be blogging & keeping you updated on SNA-K’s activities & progress! This is her first post:
Monday the 30th of July I attended SNA-K’s second SMS creation meeting in Huruma. The first meeting was held several months earlier, and included a representative from the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) who worked with participants to create messages detailing the roles of different political positions under the new Constitution as well as electoral rules and procedures. Last Monday’s workshop was really exciting, being my first day as an SNA-K intern, and it was really interesting.
The first agenda was to recap what happened at the last political debate for the county leadership aspirants. Representatives of the different areas around Baba Dogo, Korogocho, Kariobangi North, Mathare, and Huruma were present and we got their views on the debate both positive and negative. Some of the positive views include
– They like the idea of having debates as they get to have a one on one with the aspiring leaders.
– They feel the debates remove the tension between leaders and civilians, thus promote unity
– They felt the debates differentiates political parties and this helps to put aside tribalism, which is one of the main causes for violence in our communities.
– These debates are a learning tool for the community residents, they will help them know what kind of leaders they are going to elect, therefore a leader , not according to the size of his wallet but according to the change they are going to bring to their community.
– Therefore they are beneficial to both the aspirants and the civilians. They both get to hear each others views
This feedback is very important for Sisi ni Amani as we feel motivated and feel like we are slowly achieving our goals to promote peace in these areas and Kenya in general during the coming elections.
It wasn’t all just a bed of roses though. There was also negative feedback. The representatives felt that there weren’t enough female aspirants for the position. This is because the women in these communities feel unsure that they are qualified, they fear harassment from the public, and lack courage for lack of support from their spouse and/or different views from their spouse. The other thing is the issue of culture: discrimination based on marital status – e.g. “if a woman is not married, she cannot be a leader” – is pretty serious in these communities. Additionally and of great concern is that women who wish to run for these positions have received threats of violence from members of the community, contributing to a fear of running for these positions.
I think one of the texts send out should include the quote, from Wangari Maathai: “African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.”
We hope to educate these communities on these issues, to try make clear some of the rules, regulations, and rights surrounding these issues, and to change their mentalities. This brings us to the second agenda of the day which was the SMS creation.
Sisi ni amani use SMS’s as a platform to put out word to the general public, educating them about elections, roles of the different leaders and upcoming debates and peace events.
This meeting was to get the representatives views of the frequency with which messages on civic education should be sent to have the greatest impact, and also the content of the different texts. I can say that was a really successful activity. Not only did we accomplish getting a formula for frequency and content, but also the participants learnt a thing or two ourselves. I honestly did not know that the Members of Parliament review the conduct in the office of the president and can actually initiate the process of removing them from office. I guess I need to spend some time reading the constitution – I will put that on my to do list!