KENYA: How JHR is helping political candidate Agnes Nkanya in her first run for assembly in Tharaka-Nithi County

As Kenyans go to the polls in August this year, JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls Rights is continuing to empower women political aspirants to enhance gender equality in the electoral process. JHR offers media literacy training and networking opportunities to women politicians to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to work with the media and communicate effectively with their prospective voters.

Women political representation in elective positions remains a far cry from meeting the two-third (⅔) threshold guaranteed by the Kenyan constitution. The disparity between women’s and men’s representation is attributed to several factors including but not limited to a culture of violence within the political sphere; inadequate or lack of funding; low self-esteem, and the lack of skills to interact and work with media to enhance visibility of their candidacy and campaign messages.

 Agnes Nkanya from Tharaka-Nithi County at JHR’s February 11 roundtable

that promoted gender-equitable coverage during the election period

When Hon. Agnes Nkanya learned about Journalists for Human Rights five months ago, she did not know how to get media attention in her quest for a political office. As a first-time political aspirant, she really wanted to understand how she can push her messages through the media. “I wish to learn every single step of it all to help perfect my brand as a leader that is able to easily attract media,” she had said.

A few months ago, she attended JHR’s virtual training for gender officers from her hometown in Tharaka-Nithi County-Kenya. Along with other women political aspirants eyeing various seats in Kenya’s August 2022 general election, Nkanya was trained on how the media works, political communication, and how to craft her messages appropriately to get media coverage. True to her prayers, the training marked a turning point in her political journey.

And when JHR convened an in-person media roundtable event for editors and women political aspirants on February 11, 2022, nothing, not even distance, could stand in her way. The young politician braved the treacherous journey from Tharaka-Nithi County, approximately 190 kilometers away from Nairobi, to be counted among the emerging women leaders in attendance.

From the word go, Hon. Nkanya knew what she wanted, “Besides learning, getting contact networks from the physical meeting matters a lot in propelling one’s political journey,” she said.

Hon. Nkanya, who has set her eyes on the Mugumoini Ward representative seat in Tharaka-Nithi County, says both the training and the media roundtable forum have enabled her to get reliable media contacts.

“I have been having a big challenge getting slots for live TV interviews from NTV, KTN, and Citizen since they are the most frequent national stations watched,” she notes, adding, “It’s my prayer that I will be able to settle this struggle and get one-on-one bookings for the same.”

And in just under one week after the event, she made her first broadcast appearance. Hon. Nkanya participated in a live TV debate at NTV alongside two other women leaders (Hon. Beatrice Elachi vying for Dagoretti North Parliamentary seat in Nairobi; and Hon. Dr. Juliet Kimemiah who seeks to be the first female Governor for Kiambu County) who have also benefited from the JHR activities.

During the media roundtable with editors, the participants shared their experiences and got to listen to media content decision-makers on what makes a good story. The event and its attendees received widespread media attention through features in KTN, NTV, KBC and other media platforms, reaching over 15 million viewers.

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