It is no secret that “when women are part of the vision, the world sees better results.”—-UN Secretary Ban-Ki-moon.
Through photography and video, Her Story Wins will document the personal stories of US & Kenyan women political candidates as they run for office in the 2012 elections. Her Story Wins will highlight the social and physical obstacles that girls and women face in translating leadership skills to political aspirations, and more importantly celebrate the valuable impact women have on their communities when they run for and get elected to office.
The United States and Kenya, over 7,000 miles apart, share a similar challenge; they have failed to cultivate environments that encourage women to aspire to and succeed in large majorities in their pursuits for political leadership (ranking 84th and 102nd globally for the number of women in national elected government). How can Rwanda seat 56.3% of it’s lower house with women and its neighbor, Kenya with less than 10%? How can men outnumber women in the US Congress by more than 4 to 1 when women represent 51% percent of the US population?
In Kenya, being a mother makes a women “full”, not being a politician. This is one reason why women represent 52.5% of Kenyan voters but only 10% of members in parliament. The number of women running for office in Kenya is rapidly increasing: 44 women ran in 2002, 269 in 2007, and hopefully even more in 2012. Unfortunately, few women are actually winning and only 15 of 210 seats in parliament were filled with women in 2007, even though 81.2% of women believe that Kenya would be a better place if more women were in elected to politics.
There has not been a more interesting, nor critical time in modern history to document women’s political leadership in the US & Kenya—-particularly with violence and personal attacks that haunt women candidates who otherwise feel empowered by the freedoms gained in the 20th & 21st century. The 2012 elections in the US and Kenya present a unique opportunity to measure the progress each country has made in leveling the playing field for women political candidates.
Her Story Wins will illustrate the personal stories of women who have embraced the sacrifices and challenges required to run for office, and also serve as evidence of how each country has or has not overcome cultural and social norms that frequently limit women’s political participation. Starting in Kenya in the Fall of 2011, and continuing in the United States in 2012, I will live in and visit the communities of women running for office at the local and national level to document the parallel campaign journeys of geographically and politically diverse women candidates.
1.) Help women candidates tell their stories from a unique and personal perspective so that they can inspire other girls and women
2.) Serve as a platform for connecting women candidates from the US & Kenya together for intercultural dialogue on the challenges they face during their campaign journeys, and
3.) Serve as cultural diplomacy outreach to engage more youth and women to vote, serve their communities, or run for office.
Her Story Wins is an independent project and is not affiliated with or funded by any organization, or government.