Raila Odinga when he hosted Laikipia County MP Catherine Waruguru, at his Capitol Hill Office. Photo/Courtesy

By Eric Ludeya

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is already working on his 2022 campaign manifesto, with the agenda of women empowerment as his key selling point, The Times has learnt.

For a long long time, Mr. Odinga has been agitating for constitutional reforms and implementation of past inquiry reports touching on civil injustices, but the narrative is set to change heading to 2022.

He is expecting to ride on the women’s agenda as a way of countering the much famed Hustler Nation narrative coined by allies of Deputy President William Ruto to woo youths.

The Times is privy to a detailed report on how Odinga plans to build a new campaign narrative that will auger well with the new generation of voters and women in particular. He has already lined up women and young male politicians who will run parallel campaigns for his State House bid.

Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru, Homabay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, Chief Admistrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service Rachael Shebesh and Nairobi speaker Beatrice Elachi are to spearhead the women agenda. Others are Lakipia Woman Representative Cate Waruguru, her Nairobi counterpart Esther Passaris and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko.

The recent changes in parliamentary committees marked the beginning of Raila’s mission to elevate women to key positions and make it easy to sell his agenda to the public.The ODM party leader is believed to have played a major role in the inclusion of women in parliamentary leadership.

In the committee changes, eight women were given leadership roles, with Gladys Wanga being elected to chair the finance committee, Wajir Woman MP Fatuma Gedi now the vice chair of the committee on security, Kimabu’s Gathoni Muchomba in transport, Kigumo’s Ruth Mwaniki to Trade and Cate Waruguru to Agriculture all as Vice Chairs.

Others are Gladwell Cheruiyot (Energy) and Jerusha Momany (Parliamentary Broadcasting).

Upon her election, Wanga took to social media, terming her appointment as a big win for women, attributing it to efforts by President Kenyatta and her ODM party leader Raila Odinga.

“Deeply humbled on my election as the chair of the Finance and Planning Committee this morning. Will endeavour to serve the nation diligently in this new responsibility. I thank HE Uhuru Kenyatta for his magnanimity and my party leader Raila Odinga, “she wrote on her Twitter account.

Governor Waiguru termed the changes as a new beginning and an indicator of what lies ahead for Kenyan women. She termed them as a manifest of what the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report will bring on board for women.

But Odinga’s strategy also entails identifying, naturing and sponsoring young women aspirants for various elective seats in the country. Young men will also be included in the mega plan specifically allocated to Laikipia’s Cate Waruguru.She has already hit the ground running with various initiatives.

Waruguru decamped from the Ruto faction and is now a staunch advocate of the truce between Uhuru and Odinga, and has warned that the Mount Kenya region risks being out of government if it rallies behind DP Ruto.

Waruguru recently stunned youths in Laikipia’s Majengo village, when she went down on her knees to praise Uhuru and Odinga and listen to the direction the two will give them ahead of 2022.

She emphasized the need to support Uhuru finish his development projects, noting that no one stands to benefit if they oppose the government. She has not shied away from confessing her support for Raila, stating that it will be difficult for Ruto to beat the pro BBI team in the elections.

“Development and support for progressive activities cannot be found in Tangatanga but only in government,” Waruguru said.

She told residents that the President will soon be announcing major projects for the region when he tours with opposition leader Raila Odinga in due course.

To achieve his agenda, Odinga is closely following up on a new proposal that will compel political parties to nominate more women before elections. A recent proposal by MPs is pushing for the amendment of the law that will see political parties ensure at least a third of its candidates for parliamentary and county assembly elections are of either gender.

The amendments plans are being led by the National Assembly’s Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC) and will also also make it mandatory that at least five per cent of the nominees are persons with disabilities.

If fully implemented, the new law will also give the electoral agency powers to reject lists of candidates from political parties that do not meet the gender rule.

 Women leaders have been agitating for the full implementation of the two-thirds gender rule and now want to use the BBI to settle the matter once and for all.

During the BBI rallies, women drawn from all political parties have previously spelt out their conditions on the gender rule if they have to support the BBI.

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