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Female MPs wear white head scarfs in renewed two-third gender rule push

By Daniel Psirmoi | Published Thu, August 30th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 30th 2018 at 00:12 GMT +3
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) chant demanding the two-third-gender rule passage. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Female legislators have adopted a new tactic that they hope will see parliament pass the controversial two-third-gender rule.

The lawmakers have decided to wear white head-scarfs every Wednesday afternoon, until the National Assembly passes the crucial legislation.

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On Wednesday, over 40 female legislators caused a stir in the floor of the house after they walked to the chamber while donning the scarfs, catching their male colleagues, including Speaker Justin Muturi, unawares.

National Assembly leader of Majority Aden Duale asked the Speaker to issue a direction, on whether whether the women attire met the threshold of the House dress code.

“I have been in this house since 2008 and I have never seen what I am seeing today. Is it within the standing orders of dress code? “It is very intimidating and threatening. This can be a cult or a sect of a religion,” said Duale.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula told the women legislators to push the passage of the gender rule through house laid down procedures and desist from ‘intimidating us through attire.’

 But Muturi came to the defence of the group. “They look very smart. The dress code is descent, formal and we should congratulate them,” said National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

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 Addressing a press conference in parliament,   the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) Chairperson Wangui Ngirici said they have resolved to put on the scarfs every Wednesday until the gender law is passed.

 She asked both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Chief Raila Odinga to rally their troops in the house to pass the contentious law, which has not been shot down three times by members of the National Assembly.

 “As elected and nominated women MPs we are here to tell Kenyans that eight years after we promulgated the new constitution, it is only the two third gender rule which has not been implemented,” said Ngirici.

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“We will be wearing the white head-scarfs every Wednesday until the law is passed,” added the MP, who pleaded with both    the President and the opposition leader to assist the group.

Rosa Buyu (Kisumu County), the Kewopa vice chairperson said women in the country have been patient enough, noting that it is high time the gender law is implemented.

“There is general feeling that we can get away without implementing that piece of legislative proposal. Kenya women voted for the promulgation of the new constitution with the hope that their welfare will be catered for,” said Ms Buyu.

Cecily Mbarire the National Assembly deputy minority whip said they count on the support of their male counterparts to pass the law.

“We are also telling our male counterparts that we cannot do it on our own hence we need their support,” said Mbarire, adding that the legislation if passed will address issues of marginalization amongst women and youths if implemented.


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