Aisha Jumwa Katana is a Kenyan Politician who was born and raised in Takaungu, Kilifi County. She is the former Member of the Parliament, Malindi Constituency, and is currently nominated as the Cabinet Secretary, Public Service, Affirmative Action, and Gender.
Aisha Jumwa is the first woman from Malindi to join the world of politics. She has become one of the most vocal female politicians in the Coastal region.
The Mijikenda Culture inhibits women from active leadership roles. Nevertheless, Aisha Jumwa is paving the way for the women of Kilifi county. Since independence, the patriarchal system in Kenya has seen women left behind in leadership roles. Things would begin to change when the 2010 constitution ensured female representation through gender rules and the creation of the position of woman representative.
Since then, more women are emerging into the political space. However, most only settle for the reserved seats out of disdain for the aggressiveness of the male brand of politics. But the likes of Aisha Jumwa, are bold and brave. They are not afraid of getting in the ring and facing off with men. After all, a win is a win for all women. Moreover, by so doing, they increase their influence in governance.
In Kilifi county, Aisha is a pioneer in the world of politics. She has served as a councilor, Member of parliament (MP), and woman representative. In the just concluded elections, she emerged second in the race for the gubernatorial seat of Kilifi county. Hers is a story of resilience, perseverance, and triumph that showcases women not as weak, but as equal members of society.
Let us, therefore, examine how she is influencing women’s empowerment in politics.
Improving access to education for young girls
Kilifi county is considered one of the regions with lower education levels. It is worse for women as parents fail to prioritize their education. Girls are treated as temporary members of the household since they would join other families after marriage. This explains the prevalence of child marriages in the region. Besides, the dowry from these marriages would help to educate the boys in that household.
As a victim of the same, Aisha has come a long way since then. She is a form two dropout from Murray girls high school and was married off to ease the financial burden of her education. She admits that her father had a large family that he could not sustain, forcing them into marriage. However, that would not deter her, she started small business ventures and kept her dream alive. When the opportunity came, the mother of two enrolled in an adult school. She is currently a graduate of the Jomo Kenyatta University Agriculture and Technology.
Her story is an inspiration to many girls struggling in school with the pre-existing gender inequalities in education. She has remained active in advocating for girl education in the region and sponsors the education of some girls in the region.
Marriage and politics
Coming from a culture that confines women only to home management, Aisha has demonstrated that women are capable of leadership roles. Her story reflects the need for society to rethink the appropriateness of some gender roles that persisted for so long. The urgency rests in the growing perception of marriages as a hindrance to women’s empowerment. Currently, she is a single mother of three after being divorced twice.
Aisha Jumwa’s first husband abhorred the idea of her venturing into politics. He had wanted a wife to perform the home duties and opposed any contrary opinions that would drive her away from her duties. He demanded a divorce and reimbursement of the bride price. Aisha Jumwa accepted his demands as the price for her freedom.
In her second attempt at marriage, she married a fellow politician from Mombasa. Aisha Jumwa felt that he would better understand and support her dreams. At the time, both served as councilors. In successive elections, trouble knocked on their marriage once she set out for a higher position. Aisha Jumwa was elected as the woman representative for Kilifi county while he retained his ward position. It is unclear what set them off, but the changing dynamics were too much to handle. The two divorced soon after.
Affirmative actions are not enough
The country so it wise to introduce affirmative action for disadvantaged groups like women, youths, and people with disabilities. However, it is important to recognize that the initiative was only a means to an end; not the end itself. After all, the possibility of gender equality in politics lies in increasing the public’s faith to elect female leaders. Yet, most women continue to shy away from other elective positions. No wonder those who brave it out with their male counterparts have an edge politically over others.
Aisha Jumwa’s success, for instance, comes not only from being the first woman representative of Kilifi county, but she has also been twice elected as councilor, has served as a member of parliament, and was in the race for the governorship of the county.
In so doing, Aisha Jumwa inspires more to dream higher and has the willpower to follow through. Her courage puts her in the front as the most powerful female politician in the region.
Aisha Jumwa calls for clean politics to address issues
It should be fair to associate the ongoing social, political, and economic problems in the region with male leadership. After all, haven’t the men insisted on leadership as their God-given right? Sadly, the region still lags in development, and poverty levels are yet to come down.
As a result, people are steadily warming up to women’s leadership. Hoping that it will be more effective. This puts a lot of pressure on women leaders not to lose touch with the values associated with womanhood. The electorates want to change, a change that is unlikely to come with political strategies that have persisted for so long.
It will be best for them not to emulate the male brand of politics. Is it not obvious that they have not achieved much? Let the women be true to themselves, they are, after all, our mothers, sisters, and wives. And they are capable.
Aisha Jumwa‘s influence at the Coast began to fade after allegations of graft and murder charges surfaced during the Ganda ward by-election of 2019. She is also perceived as rude and arrogant to people, a trait that people abhor in women. While these remain allegations, they continue to lower public confidence in her leadership and that of women. Some faction of the public believes that she would probably have won the gubernatorial race had it not been for these issues.