At least seven women in Mt Kenya region have declared their interest to run for governor in the 2022 General Election.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, who dethroned Mr Joseph Ndathi in the 2017 elections, is the only female county boss in the region, and among the only two elected nationally.
Three women governors were elected in 2017 — Ms Waiguru, Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Joyce Laboso (Bomet). Ms Laboso died in 2019.
Those in the race for governor are MPs Purity Ngirichi, Faith “Mwangaza” Kawira, Cecily Mbarire, Susan Kihika, Sabina Chege and Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua.
The gubernatorial contest in Kirinyaga promises to be an epic duel. Ms Waiguru, who has declared her intention to defend her seat, will face off against Ms Karua and Mrs Ngirichi who is the woman representative.
Also in the race are Mr Ndathi, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and deputy governor Peter Ndambiri.
In Meru County, Woman Rep Kawira is fighting to dislodge Mr Kiraitu Murungi, who ousted Mr Peter Munya in the last polls. Mr Munya, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, is also in the race.
In neighbouring Embu, Ms Mbarire, a nominated MP, will battle it out with former Senator Lenny Kivuti for the seat.
Governor Nyaga Wambora is completing his two-term limit and is not eligible for re-election.
In Nakuru County, Ms Kihika, the senator, will be seeking to unseat Governor Lee Kinyanjui. Also expected to make a comeback is former governor Kinuthia Mbugua who is now the State House comptroller.
Ms Kihika has been selling the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party in the region and hopes to get the support of Deputy President William Ruto. Ms Kihika is a former county assembly Speaker.
In Murang’a County, Ms Chege, the woman rep, has confirmed her bid to succeed Mr Mwangi Wa Iria as governor.
Others eyeing the seat are Senator Irungu Kang’ata, Water Principal Secretary Irungu Wairagu, two times runners-up Dr Moses Mwangi, former Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and former PS Irungu Nyakera.
Ms Chege said that, after serving two consecutive terms as woman rep, she is ready to take over as governor.
“I will be contesting to be the first woman governor of Murang’a County,” she said, while urging her male competitors to stick to issue-based politics devoid of chauvinism.
Central Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation chair Lucy Nyambura said voters’ attitude towards women leaders appears to be improving as their visibility in politics increases.
“We are proud of Kirinyaga since it not only gave us the first woman governor but also continues to set the standard for gender parity in power,” she said.
Additional reporting by George Munene