Tag Archives: Political participation



By Kerigo Odada

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 upholds the rights of women as being equal in law to men, and entitled to enjoy equal CoK 2010 opportunities in the political, social and economic spheres. Under Article 81 (b) not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive public bodies shall be of the same gender.

Under Article 27 of the constitution the government is required to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programs and policies to address the past discrimination that women have faced. Additionally, the government is required to develop policies and laws to ensure that, not more than two-thirds of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same sex. However this law that was a significant achievement for women has recently come under threat since the Chepkonga Bill was tabled before parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the provision of articles 81 (b) by providing for its progressive realization. This move by the Chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee was not taken lightly by women and men who are in support of gender parity in political representation.

Civil Society Organizations came together in support of an advocacy campaign against the Chepkong’a Bill. The campaign is meant to ensure that the two-thirds gender rule is fully implemented as set out in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and that women’s participation in politics and government is safeguarded.

CSOs-led campaigns such as Thuluthi Mbili Za Mama Twazitaka Sasa and Green Amendment, both supported byDoc1  likeminded parliamentarians under the umbrella of KEPHRA (Kenya Parliamentary for Human Rights Association) and KEWOPA (Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association) came together in support of one formula that has already been tabled before parliament by Leader of Majority in Parliament Hon. Aden Duale.

Before the merger of the advocacy campaigns in support of the Geen ammendmenttwo-thirds gender principle, CSOs were championing two different Bills presenting two different formulae.

The two formulae being championed by CSOs were:

Twinning: Have the 290 constituencies contested as usual. Then pair up 98 neighbouring constituencies for women to compete among themselves in addition to the 47 slots already created in counties. For example, Kibra merged with Langata, Westlands paired up with Kabete, Dagoreti North with Dagoreti Westland. Again the team was proposing nomination slots to be extended by 14 to make it 20 to represent youth, women and persons with disabilities. In summary, if this proposal had gone through, there would be 290 MPs, 145 female elected MPs and 20 nominated MPs to represent special groups and one Speaker adding up to 456 persons in the National Assembly.

The ‘greatest looser’: currently being championed by CSOs, KEWOPA and KEPHRA. It was tabled by the Attorney General through Hon. Duale after High Court Judge, Justice Mumbi Ngugi gave the Attorney General and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) 40 days to prepare and table the two-thirds gender rule Bill before Parliament. The Bill states that, after an election, if the number of women does not meet the constitutional threshold, the gap will be bridged by picking additional women as per party lists. Political parties will submit a list of members to be nominated. According to the Bill, the allocation of the seats will be done proportionally on the basis of the number of seats won by a political party in order to ensure the empowerment through nomination will be spread to many people. The Bill also stipulates that one cannot be nominated for the special seats for more than two terms. It says the provision for the special seats will lapse 20 years after the 2017 elections.

The Bill introduces new clauses to Articles 97 and 98 to alter the composition of the National Assembly and the Senate. “The composition of the National Assembly (Senate) comprises of the number of special seat members necessary to ‎ensure no more than two-thirds of the membership of the National Assembly (Senate) is of the same gender,” the new clause says. The Bill also introduces new clauses to Articles 97 and 98 to ensure the special seats are allocated proportionate to the number of seats won by a political party, determined after a general election.

Moving a motion to reduce the Bill’s publication period, majority leader Aden Duale said the National Assembly will seek the extension of the fast-approaching August 27 deadline for the Bill’s enactment.

The laws that are targeted for review are the Elections Act, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, the Political Parties Act, the County Governments Act and the National Gender and Equality Commission Act.

FEMNET is united with the women’s movement in Kenya and in Africa in calling on the Parliament to act in the interest of both men and women in fulfilling the promise the Kenya Constitution that is recognized as one of the most


progressive Constitutions in Africa. Often we hear about the huge cost associated with increasing the number of women in parliament and yet we do not hear about the cost of excluding experiences, expertise of more that 50 percent of the population from being part of the decision-making on matters that impact their lives.

Kenya is the only country in the Eastern Africa that has recently entered the category of the middle income country, is one of the Countries’ that hosted the women’s international conference, hosted the launch of the African Women’s Decade in 2010 and recently co-facilitated the just concluded negotiations of the Post-2015 Development Agenda that has emerged with great wins for gender equality. Yet, in Eastern Africa, Kenya is performing dismally on women’s political representation. Kenya falls short of reaching the 30 percent threshold of women’s representation as stipulated in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and definitely far below the African Union’s 50 percent gender parity policy framework. For this situation to change there is a need to change the Kenyan political systems and most importantly the gender perceptions of the policymakers and the entire citizenry.

The recent 20 years review of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing +20) showed that eight countries in Africa including South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Seychelles and Uganda have reached the 30 percent target of women in the national parliament. It is high time that Kenya learnt from these countries. With or without formulas, implementing the two thirds gender principle is do-able!

Kerigo Odada is a lawyer passionate about pan-Africanism, economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, currently attached to the Advocacy Programme at FEMNET. Follow her at @eunidada


African Women’s Learning Mission on Malawi Elections


Press Statement
For Immediate Release
Blantyre, Malawi  
May 21st, 2014
The African Women’s Observer Mission accredited under the NGO Gender Coordination Network stand in solidarity with the women of Malawi in this electoral process.

There is a revolution that has started in the world where women are taking their rightful place in positions of leadership, of which Malawi has been a part. The African continent has made commitments through the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the SADC Protocol. This is complemented at the national level by the Malawi Constitution, the Gender Equality Act and the 50-50 campaign. These are irreversible and irrevocable commitments and major vehicles of promoting and ensuring women’s effective and meaningful participation in the political arena.

We congratulate the women who courageously stood in the first tripartite elections in the history of Malawi. This includes the two presidential candidates, 261 candidates for Parliament, and 419 for local ward councilors. We however note with grave concern and disappointment the impact that election anomalies may have had on female voters and candidates. Malawi must not lag behind and must seize the opportunity and momentum to propel women forward.

The African women are not discouraged by the current trend in these elections. We are even more determined in our struggle to ensure all of the above commitments become a reality across our beloved continent.

We will continue to observe the electoral processes and make appropriate statements as the results unfold.

The mission is an initiative of FEMNET (The African Women’s Development & Communication Network), NGOGCN (NGO Gender Coordination Network), SOAWR (Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition) supported by UAF-A (Urgent Action Fund-Africa).

Members include:
Dr. Amany Asfour, Egypt
Dr. Phoebe Asiyo, Kenya
Dr. Gladys Mutukwa, Zambia
Emma Kaliya, Malawi
Emmie Chanika, Malawi
Hope Chigudu, Zimbabwe/Uganda
Kennedy Otina, Kenya
Mama Koite, Mali
Margaret Ali, Malawi
Nebila Abdulmelik, Ethiopia
Njoki Wainaina, Kenya
Yvette Chesson Wureh, Liberia

For more information, contact:
Patrick Maulidi

Reflections on WOMEN RISING


Ms Afropolitan shared her thoughts on the recent film we produced along with UNDP; WOMEN RISING: Poltical Leadership in Africa – we’re reblogging it here:

By MsAfropolitan/Minna Salami

I just watched Women Rising: Political Leadership in Africa, a documentary by FEMNET and UNDP and thought I’d share it with you all here (embedded below). To me, the need for more women in political leadership is possibly the most urgent task for the African feminist agenda. If women are not determining the future of Africa then the future will continue to disadvantage African women. Simple as.
You might be thinking, wait a minute, leadership is not only political, and women are moving forward in business, arts and other parts of public – and private – life. This is true yet we need more women in real, bonafide decision-making positions, roles that give women the power tochange the very foundation of the nation.

It took a Kenyan woman politician (Njoki Ndungu), for instance, to ensure the enactment of a Sexual Offences Law and in Rwanda, a gender-based violence bill was introduced into the parliament only after women were elected to nearly 50% of seats in 2006.

It follows that it is women ourselves who must take primary responsibility for ushering more women into positions of power and we must do so determinedly. The truth is African women have not taken enough measurements to secure seats in leadership positions today and are either absent or under-represented as a result. Nor have we sufficiently adapted the roles of Women Chiefs, Queen Mothers and other eminent women of ancient times in order to challenge structures and social attitudes that exclude women from leadership positions.
Sojourner Truth aptly said, “If women want more rights than they got, why don’t they take it and stop talking about taking it.”

The Women Rising documentary features women who indeed are taking it, if controversially at times.

It features President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, Boussaina Kamel, the very first female presidential aspirant of Egypt, Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, first female Speaker of the House in Uganda’s Parliament, Honorable Rabiaa Nejlaoui, youngest Member of Parliament in Tunisia, and Honorable Hlobisile Ndlovu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Swaziland.

They share their their experiences and challenges running for office, their ambitions, their role models and their vision for a future of Africa with equal representation. I wish every young African girl can watch this and know that she too can become a future political leader.

What do you think readers?

Enjoy and share thoughts!

WOMEN RISING: Political Leadership in Africa


In Africa, as in the rest of the world, women are largely underrepresented in the political arena. However 2011 and 2012 saw an unprecedented number of female presidential candidates vying for office. 2012 also ushered in the second female Head of State as well as a female Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the very first time. Furthermore, Rwanda ranks highest in the world in terms of female representation in Parliament with over 50% representation.

Women Rising features President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Joyce Banda of Malawi amidst Boussaina Kamel, the very first female presidential aspirant of Egypt (2012), Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, first female Speaker of the House in Uganda’s Parliament, Honorable Rabiaa Nejlaoui, youngest Member of Parliament in Tunisia, and Honorable Hlobisile Ndlovu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Swaziland.

These women leaders share their experiences and challenges running for office, their ambitions, their role models and their vision for a future of Africa with equal representation. All of those featured in Women Rising are trailblazers; women who have taken up the mantle and paved the way for others to follow suit. Is one born or made a leader? What are the lessons that can be learnt from those who have come before? What are the characteristics that lead to success in leadership? These are explored in Women Rising.

The documentary was commissioned jointly by FEMNET and UNDP and produced by InCA as part of a series on Women in Development in Africa.

©Copyright, 2013

The burden has been lifted but are we taking up the mantle as women?


By Hannah Ondiek

I look at the new Constitution in Kenya as both a blessing and a curse for women in Kenya especially political aspirants.

The Heinrich Boll Foundation – HBF monthly forum on 30th August 2012 was an eye opener for many in attendance. The very able panellists Commissioner Rose Osoro, Commissioner on Revenue Allocation  (CRA) and Dr. Kiti Birika, a professor, School of Business, University of Nairobi and a Consultant took the participants through the topic “Determining Gender Equity in Fiscal Devolution” both coming with different approaches to the matter. Commissioner Osoro mainly gave a report on the commission whose function is to make recommendations concerning the basis of equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government. Dr. Kiti on the other hand challenged Ms. Osoro’s presentation that resulted in a thought provoking discussion and way forward there after.

Memorably, Ms. Osoro gave an analogy of an elephant in the circus. To hold the baby elephant down, a rope is tied to a large rock and every time the baby elephant tries to move, it is held back. The elephant then grows and though now bigger and stronger than the rock, it does not move beyond the stone because it still believes that the stone is too heavy. The Commissioner then likened Kenyan women to the grown elephant that still won’t move beyond the rock. She noted that although the new Constitution has opened numerous opportunities for women in many different areas especially politics, many women are still being held down by a ‘rock’ even when they have so much strength and power to move beyond the ‘rock’.

CRA’s principle on gender equality is guided by Article 27 of the Constitution which states the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. This brought in the most interesting part of the commissioner’s presentation which was the issue of ‘The Gender Penalty’ which is the penalty placed on any county that will not have a 2/3 representation of women elected. This will lead to the nomination of women into the administrative posts which will increase the number of posts in that area.

This means that the particular county will have more salaries to pay than the counties that voted in women and thus the money in the budget that would have been used for alternative purposes will now go into paying the salaries of  not only those elected but also those nominated representatives. It is the additional wage bill if women are not elected.

Example of the Gender Penalty Analogy using County ‘A’ and County ‘B’


                                                                                                                            COUNTY ‘A’                                             COUNTY ‘B’

Elected -men                                         ………………………..                                 20                                                                  30

-Women                                                   ………………………..                                 10                                                                    –

Total Elected                                          ………………………..                                 30                                                                  30



177 (1) (b)


Nomination of women                                                 ………………………..         –                                                                       15

Total County Assembly                                               ………………………..         30                                                                  45

SHS. MILLION                                        SHS. MILLION

Monthly remuneration assuming Shs.300, 000 per member

                         ………………………..                                                                             9                                                                     14

Annual Wage Bill                                                        ………………………..         108                                                               162

Gender Penalty (162-108)

Annually                                                                           ………………………..         –                                                                       54

Five years (54×5 yrs)                                                 ………………………..         –                                                                       240


1,450 ÷ 1/3 = 484 X 150% = 726 x KSHS. 300,000 = 218Million MONTH, = 2.6 Billion YEAR, = 13.1Billion, 5 YEARS

This shows the figures in billions that the counties will need to pay as a penalty for not voting in women. And the big question is: are we ready to waste such huge amounts of money as a country? Think of how much development work can be accomplished with those funds.

Dr. Kiti in her discussion noted that though it easier for women to vie for various elective positions as provided under the Constitution, the resistance will be more than before because the stakes are higher. So women need to brace themselves for an even harder battle. She urged women to take part on politics by first registering in political parties and ensuring that they are active in the party politics.

The whole discussion got me thinking about an article I had read concerning the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission – IEBC rules that may bar women. Women politicians in Kenya will have a hard time if the election regulation laws are accepted. These include the mandatory nomination fee of up to Ksh 500,000 for women. This brings in the discussion on women’s economic abilities knowing well that we are still partly a patriarchal society where men own most property and only a few women will afford those exorbitant amounts of money. There is also the problem of cultural barriers to women’s participation, lack of proper education for women especially in the rural areas and also the problem of people, including women refusal to vote for women for reasons they may never be able to verbalize.

After the meeting it was clear that more education needs to be done especially in the grassroots. We also asked CRA to ensure they do an extensive community sensitization which they said they would. Now that we have the information, how are we going to use it to ensure gender equality in Kenya especially in the issue of politics?

Take responsibility! The ball is now in your court!

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Bothaina Kamel, Egypt’s First Female Presidential Candidate Speaks


Bothaina Kamel speaking during FEMNET's Third Regional Conference for African Women in Political Leadership

Dear Sisters,
Thank you very much for your kind invitation, I have the great honor. Being an African woman myself, I am so happy to be with you today in such a beautiful African country.
The concept of a network that allows people from different countries, cultures and origins to meet, share their concerns, work together against any kind of discrimination is such a noble idea.
It is always very useful and effective to share, think  and work together to grant a better future for our societies.
Discrimination is such an evil human practice that took different forms and shapes through the history of humankind all over the world. I believe that the most important target of our meeting here is to understand the mutual problems that women suffer from in Africa. More importantly, it is to address the different forms of discrimination against women that vary from one country to another due to the differences in culture, social nature and religion.
I come from Egypt, a great country that inspired the whole world with the revolution that removed our old regime, a revolution that unified all Egyptians, men and women, Muslims and Christians, poor and rich. I am proud of being an Arab Muslim woman that holds dear all the Muslim and Christian traditions and principles.
Yet, within the last few decades, Islam in Egypt has taken a new and wrongful form. In older times, the role of women was very effective and appreciated until a new wave of religious approach took place discriminating against Christians as well as suggesting more restrictions over Egyptian women; the way they dress, the way they think and act as well as against their very personal freedoms which coincide with human rights.
We can see now those women are receiving dictations by a new authority, the authority of men backed by a wrongful interpretation of our great religion. Dictations over freedom of speech, the right to assume public posts, and even the way women must dress and the way they appear in the society.
For the last two years, there has been a great struggle in Egypt concerning the right of women to  work in judicial posts, a great and strange ban that was never there before against women has taken place although it goes against the laws and constitution of Egypt.
We underwent a great struggle to face such discrimination that the Egyptian government had to appoint a few women to the Egyptian judiciary, but only on an exceptional basis. The struggle is ongoing as we speak.

For that reason, among many others, I made the decision to take the step, accept the challenge and run for presidency in my country. My decision was far from throwing a rock in the water, a very serious and well-planned campaign was adopted. I visited a big number of Egyptian villages and cities and was received with warmth and welcome.

On the other hand, a great deal of criticism and even sarcasm has taken place against my bid for presidency, but I can really say that with the help of the people who work with me, we managed to change those negative impressions into a great deal of respect. Had work and sincere intentions always generate respect, that is always my principle.
I am so proud that I have the role of changing the perception of women in my country. I always declare that I am against all kinds of discrimination. I always refer to the discrimination that took place in Egypt against the religious forces in our societies in the last regime. I always pledge that those who suffered discrimination must be the last ones to practice it themselves.
Still, I believe poverty is the biggest challenge, the number one challenge that is facing our societies and Africa as a whole. Sadly, our countries are full of fortunes and resources, and still poverty is our biggest problem. Needless to say that women are the part of society that suffer the most from poverty. The scene in Somalia nowadays is breaking all our hearts as we watch helpless women who are, by nature, taking charge of our sons and daughters, our new generations, are helplessly trying to save the very lives of their own babies. It is such a repeated scene that always goes without solution; we all must take up our roles to solve this problem, once and for all. Hunger doesn’t discriminate, but that is a huge price paid mostly by women due to the struggle of men over power.
I think that our goal in this honorable gathering is to create a specific mechanism to know how to fight poverty.
A public role that can be effective, successful, and able to actually change the sad reality of our continent will send also a message to the whole world that women are able to act, do and share seriously with a huge part in changing our society for a better future.
Instead of speaking about ourselves, let’s make our good work speak for us!

Thank you,
Bothaina Kamel
Egyptian Presidential Candidate
August, 2011

Film Screening, Discussion & Poetry


Please join us as we commemorate Democracy Day (Sep 15) and Right to Know Day (Sep 28)on
Education Theatre II
FILM SCREENING Egypt: We are Watching You
In his 2005 State of the Union address President Bush cited Egypt as the country that would pave the way for democracy in the Middle East. Three women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness on the meaning of democracy. They name their campaign Shayfeen.com – “we are watching you.” This film follows the highs and lows of the first year of their movement in Egypt. Insisting that only the people can make change happen, their goal is to educate the Egyptian public on what it takes to build the most basic pillars of democracy: basic human rights, freedom of speech and the establishment of an independent judiciary. Egypt: We are Watching You highlights the importance of ordinary citizens participating in shaping and securing their democracy.

Followed by a discussion, facilitated by:
 Dr. Adams Oloo, Chairman of Department of Political Science & Public Administration
 Basil Ibrahim, Editorial Director, Imagine Company
 Carlyn Hambuba, Head of Communications, FEMNET

Poetry by Nebila