Women Leadership in Mt. Elgon Called Upon To Foster Peace As KAREU MPYA Holds Sensitization Forum

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By Isabella Maua

Women leaders within Mt. Elgon and Bungoma County have been called upon to be peace ambassadors and symbols of national unity within their communities.

This has been the agenda of Kenya Agriculture Reforms Elgon United (KAREU MPYA CBO), which held a meeting with women in leadership on Friday at Kaptama.

Speaking during the forum, which brought together over 100 women across the region in different leadership capacities, provided a chance for the women to highlight challenges they face in their quest to promote peace in the communities as well as discuss ways forward in countering them.

Among the key issues highlighted were  lack of political goodwill and lack of cooperation from police officers in implementing their mandate of apprehending perpetrators of crime and upholding the rule of law.

Speaking during the forum, Jane Chepkorom, a former nominated MCA (Bungoma County Assembly), noted that the majority of women can’t reach the leaders in power and present their issues for fear of not having voted for them in the last election.

“The electioneering period is behind us now, and we should come out courageously, create rapport with our leaders, and push the development agenda,” Chepkorom advised.

The police were, however, mentioned to be collaborating with culprits and even participating in unauthorised kangaroo courts in favour of culprits who buy their freedom lucratively.

“It’s saddening, discouraging, and traumatising, to say the least, that I can no longer work with the police; they leak information to illicit liquor brewers to aid their escape when I hint at raids, and they also take bribes from defilers, leaving young girls helpless in the quest to find justice and pursue education,” decried one of the longest-serving chiefs in the region.

Matters that can compromise peace were also looked into and included, but were not limited to, the high rate of theft, especially in Kapsokwony, gangsters owning illegal riffles and firearms who’ve been killing innocent people lately, and drugs and substance abuse among youth who are mostly school dropouts.

“The fact that killers are known and, despite being reported, are still walking free shows that the spirit of revenge is lingering around, and if not careful, the post-election violence of 2007 might be beckoning,” cautioned one of the clergy women leaders.

KAREU MPYA CBO, on its part, vowed to work collaboratively with the women leaders to keep alive the spirit of peace by ensuring all stakeholders play their rightful roles.

“We shall not tyre of holding such forums with all stakeholders in this community to actualize our mandate of sustainable peace during, before, and after elections,” reiterated Bishop Dickson Nandi, liaison officer KAREU MPYA.

KAREU MPYA works in collaboration with USAID and ACT! towards mitigating electoral conflicts in Kenya as well as supporting civic and voter education programmes under the slogan Chagua Amani (Choose Peace).

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