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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Kenyan women push for MPs quota
Health Minister Charity Ngilu
Charity Ngilu said women face an uphill struggle in politics
Kenyan women have launched a campaign to collect 1m signatures to lobby MPs to reserve 50 seats in parliament for women ahead of polls later this year.

Some 10,000 women attended a rally in the capital, Nairobi, calling for the Affirmative Action Bill to be passed.

Health Minister Charity Ngliu said that women face bias and financial drawbacks when seeking nomination, but they were ready to take up positions.

In the current parliament, only 18 out of 224 MPs are women.

The launch coincided with a new poll - conducted by Infotrak Research and Consulting, Harris Interactive Global and the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy - that suggests that 51% of Kenyans are ready to elect a woman as president.

Ms Ngilu is the only woman to have vied for Kenya's presidency in the past, but at the rally she said women faced an uphill struggle in Kenyan politics.

"It's very difficult for women to really campaign and win seats, not because they do not qualify, not because they are not good," she said.

"(There is) the obvious bias that comes from the communities, and women do not have enough money to mount a successful campaign."

According to the bill before parliament, female seats would be elected through special ballots among women's interest groups.

Kenyans are going to the polls in December to elect a new president and parliament.


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