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Opinion: Enactment of law on two-thirds gender representation overdue

By The Standard | Updated Wed, April 19th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Member of Parliament for Ainabkoi and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Samwel Chepkonga

The constitutional two-thirds gender representation requirement has elicited a lot of debate, yet what remains outstanding is the inability or unwillingness by Members of Parliament to effect it.

Notably, in 2015, Member of Parliament for Ainabkoi and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Samwel Chepkonga introduced a constitutional amendment bill that sought to suspend the clause on the two-thirds gender rule.

In a way, that pointed to the possibility of male legislators not being comfortable with the provision even as women legislators have shown little zeal in pushing for its passage.
 

A December 2012 Supreme Court advisory opinion warned that the two thirds gender rule had to be operational by August 27, 2015 but to date, the matter is still outstanding. Several perfunctory attempts to see it actualised have flopped in parliament.

Nevertheless, we cannot run away from the matter which, if anyone went to court, could render the next parliament unconstitutional unless dispensed with before the August general elections.
 

Indeed, President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on Members of Parliament to pass the bill to give women a fair chance in a male dominated domain. In honouring the constitution that would be a noble thing to do. However, it is inescapable that women themselves have shown an aversion for competitive politics. Even as party nominations are going on today, the lower number of women who have come forward to challenge men is evident.

The few who found their way to parliament after being nominated have performed dismally compared to those who contested and won their seats on merit.
 

The creation of the Women Representative seat has not added value. When challenged to show their contribution to society, Women Reps find solace in claiming they have no budgets.

Thus, with CDF and county funds already in place, demands for additional funds by Women Reps only serve to strain an economy already in agony. Kenyans are keen to take on President Kenyatta on his pledge to drastically cut the public wage bill.


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