Why Martha Karua dropped 'Iron Lady' nickname after more than 10 years

For long, the term Iron Lady has been used to describe strong-willed women but over the last few years, its meaning has been debunked

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Azimo la Umoja presidential running mate Martha Karua has said that the iron lady nickname that had stuck with her for over more than a decade has a negative connotation.

She was speaking in an interview with CNN journalist Larry Madowo when she explained that the term was misogynistic and thus decided to drop it.

For many years, the term has been used to describe strong-willed women but over the years, its meaning has been debunked.

I think that name in a way speaks to the misogyny within society. Strength is not perceived as female. Strength is perceived as male,” Karua said.

The term was also used to refer to former UK Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher. With the exception of Baroness Young, who served as Leader of the House of Lords from 1981 to 1983, Thatcher was the only woman in a male-dominated Cabinet during her ten years as prime minister.

Karua also explained that she thought the question “Is Kenya ready for a female deputy president” as offensive.

She was reacting to the same question asked by Madowo, and said that the question suggested that there was a time the country was not ready, which was wrong.

That question suggests that women ought not to be on the ballot because I have never had anybody question whether Kenyans are ready for yet another male.

That question in itself is discriminatory because Kenya is ready for women at all levels,” she said.

Kenya has the lowest representation of women in politics in East Africa, according to the international Inter-Parliamentary Union.

In the last election, women held only 23% of elective seats but 2022 has witnessed a surge in the number of female candidates.

Three of the four presidential candidates nominated women running mates while many more gubernatorial candidates also picked women.

However, many still face challenges such as discrimination and personal attacks from competitors.

Many of them continue to suffer humiliation and verbal assaults on their person, character and private life.

"People are saying, 'We want women in politics, we want more women to get these political seats'. But how are they going to get them if they are humiliated?" said Liz Njue, a Kenyan psychologist who wanted to stand for a county assembly seat.

Often times, when a women declares intent to vie for a political seats, their competitors try and discredit them on the basis of their marriages/relationships, children and other aspects of their personal lives.

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