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President Uhuru plea on gender rule even as ODM misses mark

By Wilfred Ayaga | Published Fri, April 14th 2017 at 00:00, Updated April 14th 2017 at 13:32 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta signing a bill. (Photo: Courtesy)

President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged Parliament to pass the two-thirds gender rule to show appreciation for the role women have played in Kenya’s progress.

President Kenyatta said women have played a big role in the liberation of Kenya and the subsequent progress the country has achieved.

He spoke at the funeral service of his sister, Margaret Wambui Kenyatta, who was a towering figure in Kenya’s freedom struggle and public service.

The affirmative rule seeks to ensure that individuals of the same gender do not occupy more than two-thirds of a particular category of public positions.

Gender parity

Former Parliamentarian Phoebe Asiyo said women have been fighting for gender parity for the past 50 years and that they would be grateful if the objective was achieved.

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The Bill to guarantee gender parity has been rejected by Parliament two times.

President Kenyatta spoke even as analysis of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) list of aspirants submitted to the country’s electoral body shows that women are still in the minority.

A breakdown of the list from the Orange party indicates that men have taken most of the aspirant positions, with women accounting for only 7 per cent of the total number of aspirants for National Assembly positions.

Out of 451 aspirants in the Orange list of Parliamentary aspirants, only 34 are women.

In some areas such as Kisii and Nyamira counties, the party does not have a single female aspirant for National Assembly, giving men a field day in the nominations.

Siaya, the home county of Opposition leader Raila Odinga has only one female aspirant - Mary Apiyo Olute (Ugenya).

Counties without a single female aspirant include Kisumu, Turkana, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu, Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Kitui, and Machakos.

Others are Nyeri, West Pokot, Samburu, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia, Narok, Kajiado, Bungoma, and Busia.

Meru region has only one aspirant on an Orange ticket, Esther Karimi Njeru (Igembe Central).

She will be battling to win the seat currently held by Kubai Iringo (ODM), who won it in a largely pro-Jubilee region. He has since defected from the party.

Karachuoyo constituency, which gave the country one of the country’s most accomplished women leaders, Phoebe Asiyo, has no female contestant despite having 19 aspirants – the highest number for any constituency. The constituency is currently represented by James Rege, who has decamped to Jubilee.

Nairobi County, a region that would be considered more attractive to women aspirants due to its cosmopolitan nature, has only eight female aspirants from the Orange party.

They include Elizabeth Ongoro (Ruaraka), Rhoda Mumoh Kivati (Starehe), Violet Jumba Okinda (Lang’ata), Joan Atieno Odawa, Mary Alice Onyura (Embakasi Central), and Margaret Achola Sewe (Embakasi West).

Embakasi North has three women contesting the ODM ticket, one of the largest numbers for any constituency. They are Joan Atieno Odawa, Jacqueline Awino Nyangala, and Muringi Wangui.

Male MPs and some of their female counterparts have often asked women to compete for elective positions with men instead of waiting for token positions in the form of nominations.

Lip service

The Orange party and the ruling Jubilee party have been accused of paying lip service to greater women representation in Parliament.

The Orange party does not have a single female gubernatorial aspirant, while only four women want to run for the Senate on an ODM ticket.

Those seeking Senate positions on the party’s ticket are Beatrice Khakali Kitiabi (Trans Nzoia), Rose Kisia Omondi (Kisumu), and Margaret Adhiambo Oketch (Siaya). The current Senate does not have a single elected female member.

Gladys Wanga, the Homa Bay woman representative, Thursday told The Standard that despite the low numbers, the party should create a conducive environment for primaries to ensure they have a fair chance at winning party tickets.