Parliament faces quorum hitches to pass gender bill principle

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale. [Photo, Standard]

The motion seeking to have two third Gender Bill implemented flopped on Wednesday due to lack of requisite quorum. Only 174 members were present in the House.This is the fourth time the bill has been differed  in  Parliament since the promulgation of the new constitution in 2010.

The law requires that two thirds of the Members of Parliament must be present so that voting for the bill can be effected.

Out of 75 female lawmakers, about 20 were present, raising eyebrows on whether Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association was committed to the implementation of the gender bill.

On November 28, 2018, voting on the two-thirds gender House representation rule was deferred on the same ground, despite women parliamentarians' efforts to lobby their male counterparts to support the bill.

The passage of the Bill is meant to give women a fair chance in a male-dominated domain.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka were present to urge their members to approve the bill, but their effort bore no fruit.

Despite the 2010 Constitution providing for equal representation of both genders, it has failed to demonstrate how the gender rule is to be effected, perhaps explaining the reason why it has remained an uphill task.

The Duale bill

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 by Majority leader Aden Duale seek to have members of either gender nominated to both Houses to attain the gender rule. This is if there is failure to meet the requisite number after the General Election.

Currently, the National Assembly has 75 women, 22 elected from the 290 constituencies in the last election; six nominated on the 12 nomination slots, and 47 elected as woman representatives. Thus requiring 42 nominated Members of Parliament to achieve the gender principle.

This move risks a bloated Parliament because the number of MPs to be nominated would be determined after poll results.

The quest by the Kenyan women seeking equal representation in Parliament has been an eight-year-long journey of a protracted tussle, with the majority of their male counterparts who showing no interest.

On December 2012 the Supreme Court directed the Government to implement a progressive approach in filling the gender gap by August 27, 2015. Nothing happened.

After the expiry of the 2015 deadline, the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness and the Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust sued Parliament and the Senate at the High Court for violating the law.

The lobbies said the leaders failed to enact necessary regulations that would see the two-third gender rule implemented.

Ruling on the case in March 2017, Justice John Mativo said the bicameral House violated women's rights to equality and freedom from discrimination.

He directed both Houses to enforce the gender rule within 60 days. The order was not implemented.

Where It Started

Almost nine years after promulgation of the Constitution, the Gender Bill is still a mirage despite three attempts to have Parliament pass it.

First, former Justice and Legal Affairs committee chair Samuel Chepkonga’s proposal to have the gender principle implemented progressively elicited sharp reactions from the Bill’s proponents.

The second bid by Duale to push the Bill through Parliament flopped after only 178 out of the 199 MPs in the House supported it. Another 13 MPs opposed the Bill, while five abstained from the vote.