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A group of women gathered together in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP) A group of women gathered together in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP)

A group of women gathered together in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles July 14, 2022

Pregnant women in Kenya have the right to vote

If Your Time is short

  • Pregnant women in Kenya can vote. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a regulatory agency responsible for conducting the nation’s elections, includes pregnant women and lactating mothers in a group of people who are given priority and regularly moved to the front of voting lines. Other people in this group include people who are sick or have pre-existing medical conditions or are elderly. 

  • All adults 18 or older can vote, according to Kenya law. 

Kenyan citizens are calling for the record to be set straight after a Fox News host’s comments about voting rights in the country went viral. 

On a July 5 episode of "Gutfeld!" Fox News host Emily Compagno called out singer Katy Perry for tweeting on the Fourth of July that women in America had fewer rights than a firecracker. Compagno disagreed, and used Kenya as an example to back up her argument. 

"She’s talking about what, voting rights? That we have less voting rights here? What about in Kenya, where pregnant women can’t leave the house, so they absolutely have no constructive right to vote?," Compagno said. 

It’s unclear whether Perry’s tweet was specifically about voting rights for women. But Compagno’s response to it received plenty of social media pushback from Kenyans and Kenyan government officials, who pointed out that pregnant women in the country do indeed have voting rights. 

Charity Ngilu, county governor in Kitui and Kenya’s first female presidential candidate, tweeted in dissent of the claim. Female members of the Parliament of Kenya, referred to as Women Representatives, also shot back. 

"Pregnant women in Kenya are allowed to leave the house. Pregnant women in Kenya can vote. Pregnant women get priority on voting lines," wrote Women Representative Esther Passaris.

In 2017, Agence France Presse reported that a pregnant woman went into labor and gave birth while waiting in line to vote at a polling station in Kenya. After going to a local health clinic, she returned to her polling place and cast her ballot.

Rehema Dida Jaldesa, a fellow Women Representative from Isiolo County, Kenya, told PolitiFact,"That statement is entirely false as pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly hold the right to vote. In addition, it is common for them to be moved to the front of the polling queue, and given priority to vote. It is unfortunate that Emily Compagno and Fox News are spreading misinformation when they have the internet to fact-check."

The rules that Jaldesa referred to are in protocols written in October 2020 by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a regulatory agency responsible for conducting elections in the country. On page 11, the commission wrote that "persons with proven pre-existing medical conditions as well as elderly people, the disabled, lactating mothers, pregnant mothers and the sick will be given priority" in voting lines. 

Kenyan law stipulates that every adult has the right to vote. The commission lists that a person can be denied registration to vote if they: 

  • Are younger than 18 years old

  • Do not have a valid ID or Kenyan passport

  • Have an undischarged bankruptcy

  • Are convicted as guilty of an electoral offense

  • Have been found by a court to not be of sound mind. 

We reached out to Fox News to ask whether Compagno could corroborate her claim, but received no response. However, The Daily Beast reported that Compago doubled down on her statement and cited an article from Grazia Daily and a report from the World Population Review. Grazia Daily did not include a source to back up its claim, and the World Population Review, citing a 2019 United Nations report about election-related sexualized violence against women, acknowledged that pregnant women in Kenya can vote and are given priority in lines. 
 

Our ruling

A Fox News host claimed that in Kenya, pregnant women could not leave the house and therefore could not vote. 

Both Kenyan citizens and government officials pointed to evidence to the contrary. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission issued regulations to allow pregnant women to be given priority in voting lines, and Kenyan law stipulates that all adults are able to vote. 

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Archived episode of Gutfeld!, July 5, 2022 

Katy Perry tweet, July 4, 2022

Charity Ngilu tweet, July 7, 2022

Pauline Njoroge Facebook post, July 6, 2022

Esther Passaris tweet, July 7, 2022

Independent Electoral and Boundaries, Commission Protocols for Conducting the Electoral Activities in in the COVID-19 Context, October 2020

Kenya Law, Electoral Process in Kenya, Aug.1, 2017

Independent Electoral and Boundaries, How to Register, accessed July 13, 2022

The Daily Beast, Fox News Host Stands by Claim About Pregnant Women in Kenya Amid Backlash, July 7, 2022

United Nations, Breaking cycles of sexual violence linked to elections in Kenya, Dec. 27, 2019 

Yahoo Finance: AFP, Kenyan woman gives birth while waiting to vote, Aug. 8, 2017

Statement to PolitiFact from Rehema Dida Jaldesa, Isiolo County Women Representative of the Parliament of Kenya

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Pregnant women in Kenya have the right to vote

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