The wind of change is blowing through the Coastal belt as female politicians roll up their sleeves to fight for gubernatorial positions in the 2022 General Election.
Should they maintain their ambitions all the way to the ballot, the region may have its first female governors since devolution started in 2013.
In four out of the six counties, women have come out strongly to challenge their male rivals in what is expected to be a thrilling political season.
Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi), Kwale Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko (Mombasa) and social justice expert Umra Omar (Lamu) are leading the charge with their sights set on executive mansions.
They are out to take the reins from governors Amason Kingi, Salim Mvurya, Hassan Joho and Fahim Twaha, respectively. The ground is still favourable for male politicians in Taita Taveta and Tana River.
At the weekend, Ms Jumwa raised the tempo at a funeral in Rabai when she stated her intentions to change the face of Kilifi in terms of development. The only obstacles she faces are court cases.
Former Jubilee nominated Senator Emma Mbura threw her weight behind Ms Jumwa, saying Kilifi was ripe for a woman at the top.
“Women understand challenges facing the society better, especially in education, health and water supply. It is women who spend a lot of time walking long distances in search of these essential services,” she said.
She said male politicians in the county had formed a tendency of using divide-and-rule tactics against women.
“This time round, we will visit every corner to ensure a woman wins the governor’s seat. We want to witness how the leadership of a woman can help our society,” said Ms Mbura.
In Kwale, the stage is fertile for a woman as the governor has been campaigning for his deputy, saying Ms Achani is best placed to carry on with his development record.
“In leadership, you must prepare early for succession. The deputy governor is well prepared,” Mr Mvurya said at a public event in April.
In an interview with the Nation yesterday, Ms Achani said she would maintain the development focused leadership championed by her boss.
“There’s no other leader who can understand the challenges facing this county better than I do. That’s why I believe that our development projects will go on without hurdles under my leadership. It’s time to give a woman a chance to develop this county,” she said.
In Mombasa, Ms Mboko announced her ambitions early, but has been quiet over the last few months.
Her intentions to take over leadership of the port city had already attracted support from several women leaders, including the Embrace Movement that brings together ladies allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
In Lamu, Ms Omar said Kenya has many brilliant women with the ability to lead the country at various levels, but lacked support from the society.
The 2017 UN in Kenya Person of the Year challenged women to rise up to the occasion and go for high leadership positions.
“I am a Bajuni woman, but that won’t deter me from pursuing what I feel is right. I believe a good leader must not be afraid of the obstacles before them. I therefore encourage fellow women here not to let male chauvinism weigh them down,” Ms Omar told the Nation.
Raya Famau, an activist in Lamu, lauded Ms Omar’s declaration to contest the gubernatorial seat.
“This is a positive move for women in Lamu, who have for years been stifled by culture and a chauvinistic society that generally prefers men over women in leadership,” she said.
By Charles Lwanga, Maureen Ongala, Valentine Obara, Siago Cece and Kalume Kazungu