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Amujae Leaders discuss online abuse and other challenges faced by women in politics

2021 Amujae Leaders Anne Waiguru and Telia Urey spoke openly about their experiences facing threats of violence and abuse on social media in a candid conversation with the BBC about the obstacles for women in politics.

On the special International Women’s Day episode of the Africa Daily podcast, Ms. Waiguru, who is the governor of Kenya’s Kirinyaga county, explained why women are often the subject of online abuse:

We still live in a very patriarchal society and people are not used to women excelling. And the minute a woman shows a little confidence or shows a little drive, there’s a tendency to push back.”

The Amujae Leaders emphasized the need for a solid support system to help women in public life. Ms. Urey, an entrepreneur and the Director of Reach Africa International, noted that having a supportive network of women was “critical” for her during her campaign bid for a senatorial seat in her country, Liberia:

“That’s what gives you confidence, that’s what gives you the inspiration to continue…  You fight because that’s the only way we’ll be able to beat this ill of not having women represented in the political landscape.”

Speaking with host Alan Kasujja, Ms. Urey and Ms. Waiguru agreed that affirmative action is necessary to improve women’s representation in public leadership at all levels. Ms. Urey said:

I believe affirmative action is the way forward… We need to have women involved at all levels, because there’s a strong scientific link of having increased performance of institutions when women are part of leadership.” 

When asked about her advice for young girls, Ms. Waiguru spoke of the importance of having good examples to look up to: 

“Send [young girls] the message that you are as good as anybody else, you can achieve whatever is in your dreams. And in the event that they doubt, let them read our stories. We are here. Our lives are out there. And we are there to encourage the daughters of Africa that this can be done.” 

Listen to the full episode here.