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Kenya went into the election on 9th August 2022 full of hope and expectations, hoping that the 5th president of Kenya would carry their hopes and aspirations with them. On the 15th of August the former Deputy President William Ruto who had campaigned on the banner of “hustler and bottom-up economy” was declared the president-elect against a backdrop of contested elections by Hon. Raila Odinga and Martha Karua who had campaigned on the banner of “liberation, rule of law and fighting corruption” subsequently filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Kenya to nullify the election citing voting irregularities. On the 5th of September, The Supreme Court upheld the election results pronouncing that His Excellency Dr William Ruto will serve as the 5th president of the Republic of Kenya. 
His Excellency Dr William Ruto (left) and Hon. Raila Odinga (right) [Image source: Citizen Digital]
We are deeply proud as a nation of all the strides Kenya has taken in building its democracy and the political maturity and calmness we have experienced during this electioneering period. We have seen more and more institutions stand for constitutionality and many more citizens believing in the rule of law. 

As human rights defenders and advocates, we recognize that our work starts now! To hold the new government to account in defending our constitution and to protect the human rights of all individuals of all walks of life, genders and sexual orientation. We shall start by safeguarding gains already made and remain vigilant to ensure that policy-making processes are based on human rights frameworks.


Kenyan women celebrating election win
Kenyan women celebrating election wins [Image source: Channels TV]
Kenyan women and other marginalised peoples have made historic gains in representation in the recent election. One of the highlights was when 24-year-old Linet Chepkorir made history by becoming the youngest female parliamentarian after securing the role of county woman representative. Reports indicate a 30% increase in the number of women elected from the single constituency and a double increase in the number of women elected as governors. There was also a significant increase in elected young persons in the national and county assemblies, although most were male youth. These are huge gains that need to be celebrated!  

What remains to be seen is how female parliamentarians will work to ensure women’s issues are placed at the centre of national and county parliaments, and the significance of their increased representation in the push for gender equality. A number of topics critical to women’s political participation still need to be looked at. The systemic barriers limiting women’s political participation still remain. The number of females who ran and won the different parties’ nominations for various seats was considerably low compared to male nominees-only 12% of women ran in the 2022 August elections. Even as we are looking at increasing the number of elected women in the national assembly, more than ever, the focus should be on younger women, minority and indigenous women, and women with disabilities who represent the most marginalised and vulnerable population in Kenya. 


Hon. Esther Passaris (left) and Hon. Wangari Martha (right), among the 30 women elected to Parliament and 7 as Governors in Kenya
The just concluded general elections have ushered in a new dawn in the Kenya political arena where 30 women were elected to Parliament and seven as Governors. Women Political leaders strongly influence the work that TICAH does and will be critical in supporting the legislative agenda within parliament. 

Some of the SRHR champions elected and are essential to our SRHR work include Hon. Esther Passaris who is the Women's rep of Nairobi county and has been a strong advocate of women SRHR both in and out of parliament, Hon. Susan Kihika who was instrumental in the RH Bill tabled in parliament has been elected as the Governor of Nakuru. Through her leadership and as a champion of SRHR, it’s our endeavour to continue working with her to champion the SRHR agenda within the Council of Governors. Hon. Milly Odhiambo was elected as a member of Parliament for Suba North, Hon. Wangari Martha elected member of Parliament Gilgil, and Hon. Mishi Mboko MP of Likoni. Apart from the female parliamentarians, there are male SRHR champions such as Hon. Antony Oluoch, who was elected into  Parliament for Mathare and Hon. Ochanda of the Bondo constituency.  The newly elected and re-elected members of Parliament provide an opportunity for SRHR advocacy noting that while there has been an attempt to pass the Reproductive Health Bill it has always failed to go through the third reading. This new team provides hope to safeguard reproductive health gains as we push for further legislation of progressive laws. 


Kenyan woman voting while carrying her baby
A woman casts her vote while carrying her baby during the recent Kenya elections
In a space of political instability and in between curriculum reforms in the education system,  children are more vulnerable than ever. In a survey conducted by TICAH, we recognise the increased cases of child abuse, youth crime, drug use and mental health-related cases. We can not forget to think about the recent  HIV trend in adolescents and young people, it's alarming. It is important to keep positive values and human rights at the forefront of work with children, in schools and across communities. We are looking forward to a country that is inclusive and safe for every child and a country that believes that rights and positive values matter to development. 


Several drummers playing Kenyan drums at a Nairobi Drum Circle session at Hilton Square Park, Nairobi Kenya
Several drummers playing Kenyan drums during a Nairobi Drum Circle session at Hilton Square Park in Nairobi

Every first Friday of the month this year at the Hilton Square Park (aka. Jobless Corner, in the centre of Nairobi), we’ve been hosting public drum circles. We started setting up the circle not expecting much on the first Friday of August. It was right before the election so a lot of people had already left Nairobi. It was also quite a cold and dreary day. Unexpectedly, it was one of the most attended and interactive drum circles we’ve had this year with over 160 people stopping by to join the circle. Hundreds more watched from the benches surrounding the park, smiling and capturing the moment on their phones. People clearly needed to work through some pre-election emotions.

An older woman took me aside after drumming; “I really needed that,” she said. Another drummer later told me, “This is so good and very important.”  He told me that we need more spaces like this where people can come together, enjoy music and also do something about their stress.  During drum circles, the hustle and bustle of this central, transient space slow down. You can see people slowing down as they walk by, looking up from their phones and taking a moment to take in their surroundings.  Others happily join in to drum off their frustrations or to participate in this pro-social, pro-community activity with other strangers. They smile at one another as they drum in rhythm together. Suddenly people notice the trees in the park and the city seems different. These spaces matter.

Copyright © 2022 Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), All rights reserved.

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