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Kenya Woman Set to Run For Deputy President

FILE - Kenya's Opposition leader and presidential candidate Odinga and running-mate present their candidacy for the forthcoming presidential race, in Nairobi, Kenya, June 5, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

With Raila Odinga, Kenya's opposition leader, choosing Martha Karua as his running mate for his fifth presidential candidacy last month, Kenya's presidential election on August 9 might bring in the country's first female deputy president.

Martha Karua is a former justice minister and seasoned politician who beat a prominent former civil service chief in her first parliamentary election in 1992.

After being chosen as Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga's running partner for the August elections, she showed to defy all opponents in a male-dominated political environment, earning her the nickname "Iron Lady." But it's a nickname she despises.

“I think that’s just a demonstration that leadership, and strong leadership in women is seen as the exception not the norm because I haven’t heard of ‘iron men’, you see? A strong man is seen as the norm, but if a woman comes in strongly, she has to have names, and if you are not being called iron you will be called abrasive, a man would be called strong."

Karua is less focused on breaking boundaries than on the top issues of the campaign. “In terms of delivery of services, economic growth, in every area, corruption is choking the nation."

Odinga and Karua will face off against Kenya’s incumbent deputy president, William Ruto, and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua.

Ruto has sought to portray the race as dominated by economic inequality and has pledged to lift up those at the bottom.

Odinga and Karua’s Azimio coalition, however, is focused on graft which is estimated to cost the East African country a third of its budget every year.

Karua says that if Azimio wins it will put in place new measures to rein in corruption including a closer scrutiny of the wealth of public sector workers and leaders.