As she stands up to address the crowd at Ikolomani Friends Quaker Church, one can easily tell that she is a woman who has acquired vast experience as Member of the local County Assembly of Kakamega County. She is confident and oozes a lot of hope of recapturing her seat in the forthcoming GeneralElections. Meet Hon. Florence Machio, elected Member of Shikomari Ward in Kakamega County.
“Had it not been for the grassroots women, I could not be where I am today. They nurtured and pushed me to the top and have walked with me in my political journey,” says Hon. Machio
Her achievement in politics speaks for itself: “My people have so much respect and confidence in me. Besides I have implemented several community initiated development projects like roads and schools,” she adds.
Hon. Machio is a women champion and a member of the Grassroots Kenya (GROOTS Kenya), a network of women self-help groups in Kenya that empowers women to participate in community development and decision making. It is through this initiative that saw her elected as one of the four female Members (MCA)in the male dominated County Assembly.
GROOTS Kenya, a partner of the UN Women’s Strengthening Electoral Process in Kenya (SEPK) programme hosted the first joint review workshop that brought together 17 implementing partners to share lessons learnt and enhance partnerships. Using the model of grassroots champions for transformative leadership, the partners learnt that collaboration and ownership of projects is not only cost effective but key to the program’s sustainability.
Regardless of their political affiliations, the women work together to ensure that members aspiring for political positions succeed and bring positive impact in their communities. This way, women become respected and more accepted as leaders. For Kakamega County, over 20 women were aspiring for elective positions in 2013 but only four made it.
In the GROOTS model, the women who missed elective posts werenurtured and supported to join other decision making positions within the county government.
“We often negotiate with those in power to have more womenin decision making positions so that our voices are heard… This also helps the women to strategies for the next election,” says Anne Maliku, one of the women champions.
For 2017 Elections, the champions have prepared 29 women for elective posts but fear most of them would be edged out during party nominations. This calls for change of strategy to ensure more women rise to power. One of the key strategies is mapping the polling stations and positioning at least ten female and male champions to safeguard the women’s votes.
From the review, partners concurred on need to share experiences, ideas and resources to achieve the ultimate vision of the programme.
The partners drew action points that will inform implementation of their projects to achieve desirable results. Some of the action points include developmentof common visibility and branding messagescutting across the project areas and sharing workplans with each other.