These are the women breaking new ground in Kenya’s politics.
Shirley Wamai is a journalist. She has won several awards, most of all, from the BBC, as a journalist who reported the brutal murder of Kenyans murdered in the past year.
But Wamai is also the chairperson of the National Freedom Party, which is a party of women. The National Freedom Party, she says, is trying to be a different kind of woman’s party.
“This may seem like a joke, but it’s not,” she tells me when we meet at her house in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
“We are all women who have political ambitions,” says Wamai. “We want to be the leaders of a revolution. We want to be the leader of our own revolution.”
Wamai has served as a general secretary and chairwoman of the party for nearly seven years.
The woman who wants to be president
The Freedom Party is a small but well established party in Kenya. Its presidential nominee is Uhuru Kenyatta, who won in 2015 and was re-elected in 2017.
“We want to be the leader of our own revolution. We want to be the leader of our own revolution,” says Wamai
“After this election we will be able to show the world our strength and power. We will have strength to be able to deliver on the promise made to our people when we won in 2015,” says Wamai.
Since then, women have been fighting to be able to become president again.
But the movement for political change in Kenya has always been led by men.
In 2007, when Wamai first started the movement to bring female candidates to the polls, she says, the only woman who was actively campaigning was herself.
“I started the movement because I wanted that there should be more women in the government. We should have five women in positions of power. I didn’t expect that I would have five women in positions of power,” says Wamai.
She says it is not easy to be the face of a political movement when you are not a mother with children. But when she took it seriously, she found that she was able to have an impact.
“I was a bit apprehensive, a bit shy. I didn’t want to be seen as a woman who had come here