Kenya’s female political aspirants will be receiving financial support from Echo Network Africa after the organization kicked off its newest initiative, the Democracy Trust Fund.
Network CEO Dr. Jennifer Riria, whose patronage makes the fund possible, said, “Competition in the political scene has spelled challenges for women to lead. There are so many hindrances, yet women are not serviced to take up leadership positions. Most of the women say that there is no even playing ground for women to compete for leadership positions as men.
"The Democracy Trust Fund will identify, prepare and position women for leadership in a strategic and sustainable manner. It will also help create a more inclusive environment in which all citizens, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to participate in national development," Riria said, adding that the organization will offer advice and expertise in managing both resources and funds.
Due to financial difficulties, women are often left out of the race and are unable to participate in political processes, despite a constitutional amendment which allegedly reserves a third of official positions for women.
“Political parties have failed women aspirants and other groups that they purport to support...Through the fund, women will work themselves to leadership positions,” said Riria.
Riria explained that the fund will be composed of community donations which will create a natural bond between aspiring politicians and members of society. The funds will then be transferred to banks for further investments, in accordance with the law.
The trust fund is a collaborative effort between Echo Network Africa, Global Fund for Women, and the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.
"The programme hopes to develop a pool of highly skilled cadre of women leaders capable of participating in national leadership and bringing positive change to the society, and to their leadership spaces in particular," said Riria.
“We need to celebrate these women who do service work with communities and no one seems to recognize them. This will give women visibility and a voice,” she said.
Riria says she hopes the initiative will attract other like-minded organizations and political parties to support the women. Although at present, there are only three female governors, three senators, and 75 councilwomen, the organization hopes this number will at least double by 2022.
Echo Network Africa (ENA), formerly known as Kenya Women Holding (KWH) is an organization dedicated to and run by women to empower and advocated for the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities.