Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation has called on women in the Nyanza region to intensify campaigns for political leaders who will represent their interest, ideals and turn around their economic fortunes.
As political campaigns enter homestretch, the organization called on women in the region to vote in leaders who have committed to address poverty and retrogressive cultural practices that have been linked to rising HIV/AIDS cases among youth and eroding gains in women empowerment.
“During this political season we have a chance to change the narrative of ending the vicious cycle of poverty. Let’s elect leaders who have our interest, especially us women at heart,” said Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation National Chairperson, Rahab Muiu during the organisation’s nationwide 70th Anniversary in Kisumu.
She added, “We need leaders who are ready to empower women economically; once women are empowered the whole community is safe.”
Women leaders allied to the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance have hinted of forming a huge women movement to rally women across the country to vote for the Alliance’s presidential aspirant, Raila Odinga. The movement they said will enhance Odinga’s voice under ‘Sauti ya Baba’ Campaign.
“At the neck of Azimio, we want to reach 1 Million women with Azimio La Kina Mama we are launching very soon. We know a mother is the foundation of any homestead and if we are able to reach the hearts of women, Raila Odinga will be the 5th,” said Muranga Women representative, Sabina Chege.
Nyeri Deputy Governor Dr. Caroline Karugu said, “Without a doubt, the next dispensation will see Raila Odinga lead this Country. Now more than ever before we are excited by prospects for women, not only female representation but also about their needs being among those that will be on the table in the Azimio government.”
According to research carried out by the National Aids Control Council (NACC) in 2021 it estimates that 16 per cent of the population in the Nyanza region is HIV positive.
In 2020, the National Aids and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) data revealed Kisumu had recorded 4,661 new infections while youths aged between 15 and 24 accounted for most of the new cases.
“The statistics are not only worrying but the fact that youths between the ages of 15 to 24 accounted for most of the new cases is quite disturbing,” Said Muiu.
Several issues have been linked to the rising numbers among them being Poverty, lack of parental guidance, Forced marriages, and sexual violence.
The society is also slowly deviating from the conservative traditional values and attitudes on safe sex discussion education. Retrogressive cultural practices like widow cleansing and wife inheritance Muiu said has also played a very major role in the increase in number of HIV
The region is also experiencing weakened family and societal support systems and decreased participation in formal education of young people.
Another very worrying issue brought about by HIV/AIDs is the issue of grandmothers becoming mothers again. Once their children are claimed by HIV/AIDs they are left to take care of their grandchildren which is a tall order for the already old people
“As parents and especially mothers we should really go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong,” she urged.