The most disconcerting news from the ongoing recruitment into the Kenya Defence Forces is the report that women have been turned away at some centres.
The officers in charge simply explained that there were no slots for women. Some of the places where the women interested in serving in the military were locked out, include Lamu and Laikipia counties.
In Lamu West, the recruiting officer’s explanation that they were only keen on signing up men because there is an adequate representation of Lamu women in the KDF, was somewhat surprising. At Nyahururu, women were sent away without any explanation.
These incidents will come as a surprise to many, as it is quite obvious that our military is a male-dominated institution.
However, the national military leadership and the government deserve praise for opening up for women in the senior cadre levels and also for servicemen and women in recent years.
The biggest indication that the military was keen to become an equal-opportunity institution for both genders was the scrapping of the women’s corps and incorporating them into the officer ranks and increasing recruitment into the various units.
What is surprising, however, is that the KDF, which has greatly improved its public communication, with a well-staffed unit that explains the military quite well, did not consider it necessary to give a prior notice on who should turn up. If this was an oversight, then it’s not too late to correct it as the exercise is still going on.
We commend the KDF, though, for tackling the corruption that was rampant in past recruitments. While joining the military, is first and foremost, seeking to do national duty, it is also a source of employment for youth. In these times when there is acute unemployment right across the country, any such openings must be filled transparently.