Women push for equal share of executive slots

Women leaders want constitutional reforms to secure a half of executive positions.

They say all candidates for governorship must nominate running mates from opposite gender.

The leaders presented radical proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force chaired by Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji.

If adopted, the proposals will change the country’s governance system and usher in a regime that is close to the 50:50 gender representation in the presidency, counties, National Assembly, Senate, County Assemblies and public appointments.

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Speaking during the task force public open forum in Nairobi yesterday, the women leaders proposed that all candidates for the 2022 governorship should have running mates from the opposite gender.

They also called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to expand his Executive and allocate two seats for women.

The women proposed that in a system where the country would have a president, deputy, prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, women should have two automatic slots.

“We are not shying away from an expanded presidency. Why? Because when the top is too narrow, we struggle because if you are not in the top you think you are not anywhere,” Gladys Wanga, the Homa Bay women representative said.

The women rubbished the calls for the two-gender rule, saying earlier efforts to achieve gender parity failed in November last year when National Assembly deferred a vote on gender equity Bill to this year after the House failed to raise the numbers to pass it.

They now want 50:50 representation, as is the case in Ghana or more like in Rwanda, where elected women are more than men.

“We have put too much effort, but if that rule appears to be difficult, let’s change the course and I think this is where we begin,” said Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia.

Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru said they wanted women to speak for women because the best men did not understand women.

“We’ve moved away from the two-thirds gender rule,” Ms Waiguru said.

Now, the women leaders want BBI, which came into being after the March 9, 2018 handshake between the President and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, to consider their proposals and make them part of the questions to be voted on by Kenyans in the next referendum.

Female deputies

Despite the fact that three women were elected governors in 2017, the number of female deputy governors has reduced.

Following the 2013 General Election, nine women were running mates to governors who won in the first election after the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.

But after the 2017 General Election, this number has reduced to seven, which gender activists say is way below the recommended two thirds affirmative action clause anchored in the Constitution.

In the 47 counties, only seven governors have deputy governors of the opposite gender, which represents a very small percentage of the total number.

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constitutional reformsBuilding Bridges InitiativeExecutive