Tag Archives: The Constitution of Kenya

A UNITED FRONT FOR THE NOT MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS GENDER PRINCIPLE IN KENYA

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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

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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

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Is the Kenyan Voter Ready to Implement the Gender Rule as Stipulated in the Constitution?

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By Hannah Ondiek,

On 27th September 2012 I voted, yes I did. I cast my vote and I finally felt that my vote counted! It was a great feeling; the secrecy in the voting booth, my freedom of choice and the safety I felt through the whole process, was just amazing. Some of the questions in the voting booth were; would you vote in a woman, which woman would you vote for in Kenya and why? What is the biggest barrier to women running for office in Kenya? The questions were based on the Kenyan context, which in my opinion represent the situation of women in Africa where attitude towards women’s leadership is still biased.

All the participants at the monthly Gender Forum convened by Heinrich Boll Stiftung – HBF were welcomed into the Art exhibition themed “The Woman’s Vote” that was running simultaneously with the forum themed “Voter Outlook towards Leadership by Women.” The ‘Concept Art’ was a beautiful exhibition of women; young, old, rural, urban, Christian, Muslim all representing different counties in Kenya with messages around their necks spreading the message of women empowerment in the area of political participation, seeking to encourage voting of women and knowledge on the issue of women political leadership through a mock polling station and mock voting process, conceptualized by a young artist, Ms. Maryann Muthoni who was one of the panellists during the discussion.

The other panellists included Eunice Marimar, a politician from the South Rift region, Baraza Nyukuri a Gender Consultant, Hon. Rose Waruhiu, a former member of parliament, seasoned politician and a political aspirant in the March 4th 2013 elections, and Alice Wahome, Vice Chair at the Centre for Multi Party Democracy, the Chair – Kenya League of Women Voters and Advocates and a political aspirant in the March 4th 2013 elections. The enlightening discussions were moderated by Joe Ageyo a seasoned journalist in Kenya and beyond who made the session lively and interactive.

The issue of gender parity took centre stage as the panellists interacted with the participants who all had strong points regarding the issue.  The session also discussed the voter’s attitude towards women leadership.

Articles in the Kenyan Constitution which sets the frame work according to the Law were mentioned including Article 81 (b) which states that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender, Article 177 on membership of the county assembly, Article 97 on membership of the national assembly, Article 27 on equality and freedom from discrimination, Article 98 on membership of the senate, and Article 88 (4) on the establishment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission – IEBC, specifically sub-section (i) on its role in regulating the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in respect of any election.

It is clear that there is a lack of political will to include women in decision-making structures both at the national and local levels. This problem goes deep into our culture and socialization not only in Kenya but in Africa as a whole.

Hon. Waruhiu stated that it has been more than 40 years since independence and though women have contributed to the opulence of the country, they are still marginalized and underrepresented in leadership. The country has no choice left but to involve women. She urged women to have a clear agenda, wake up and be involved in politics noting that we represent 52% of the population. She reminded us that power will never be given, and we have to fight for it. She also advised women not to take power and remain “pretty faces” in parliament but to take on the policy issues that affect the country both now and for the future generations.

The Moderator, Mr. Ageyo asked if there is a deliberate attempt to lock women out, Ms. Wahome stated that we cannot continue discussing the question when article 27 and article 81 of the Constitution of Kenya give clear answers, she stated that we need to be discussing solutions.

The barriers to women political participation are economic, social, cultural, including fear of violence, alienation, lack of support especially from the family, women intimidation, lack of resources and a general negative attitude towards women leaders. Political parties also play a major role in this because that is the area where women representation starts. It was noted that there is power play, resource control in the political parties which are controlled by the men who make it hard for women members. There is apathy among voters who lack interest and concern on issues relating to women and surprisingly this also includes women who are sometimes viewed as their own enemies. Mrs. Marimar who represents women in the grassroots noted that rural women are viewed as housekeepers and home makers by their societies and the thought of them leading is ‘absurd’.

The Gender Consultant reiterated the feeling of most of the participants that we need to change the mentality that gender issues are women issues; he stated that it is a societal issue that should involve everyone. The law has only given us the frame work but we need to do extensive voter education. He also stated that we need to re- socialize the current socialization regarding women’s leadership.

Civic and voter education will be a tool to deal with the lack of education and sensitize citizens on their rights and privileges as citizens under the law.

The media can be a tool to either reinforce the negative stereotype towards women’s leadership or transform it since they have the platform and power of influence due to their wide reach. It should therefore be used by the right parties in order to spread the message of the need to empower women and support them in taking on leadership positions. We also need to ensure that article 27 and 81 are implemented.

The role of women will be to create conducive environments for other women and mentorship for younger women.

Joan Birika the Program Coordinator at HBF closed the session and urged women especially those seeking leadership positions to ensure the 3 A’s: Access to leadership, Agenda setting and Accountability.

Noting the situation in Africa where we currently have two female heads of state in Malawi and Liberia, a woman heading the African Union Commission (AUC), and several other key positions being held by women both in the public and private spheres, women are making notable strides in transforming and influencing leadership in the continent. It is imperative that we all support and encourage women’s leadership right from the local level, up to the highest position in our countries.

What is your attitude towards women leadership?

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