The first woman to become a parliamentarian in Kenya

These are the women breaking new ground in Kenya’s politics: businesswomen, leaders of women’s groups, women with high levels of education, women leaders – all women, all politically active and increasingly vocal.

But not all women are the same. And the roles they play in politics can bring them into conflict with their male counterparts.

Women’s rights activists say their experiences are very different to those of their male counterparts, who are rarely elected.

This is the subject for a new feature film, which chronicles the lives of women involved in politics in Kenya.

The film is based on interviews with women who have broken through barriers to politics, particularly in the past 15 years when political parties have been dominated by men.

The film – which was launched with the support of the UK Film Council – is produced in collaboration with the BBC’s Africa News Service, the Public Broadcasting Service and Focus Kenya, a documentary production company based in Nairobi.

“It will be a wonderful resource,” says Nairobi-based film-maker Mirinda Sibanda. “The films will show many aspects of political life in Kenya.”

In the film, all the subjects will also tell their stories.

Women on the front line

Two of the women interviewed by the BBC are Christine Nyanyuki and Mary Kinyanjui, both of whom have since become prominent political figures.

Christine was a parliamentarian in the country’s first multiparty democracy, a role she held for 13 years.

“I have never worked as a parliamentarian before,” she recalls of her career there in the mid-1990s.

She came from a background of being the fourth of seven children. Her father would often leave her and her siblings when they got into trouble, and her mother would send them to look for him.

But Christine says the political life she was leading was tough.

“I was a woman then,” she says. “So I would work with my brothers, and would have to deal with them, because a woman in my circumstances is looked at differently.

“But there are so many women in politics, so I can’t complain. I don’t know why I was chosen to be the first female to become a parliamentarian.”

Ms Nyanyuki is president of the Kenya

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