Legislative reform needed to improve the status of women

The recent scandal involving an alleged distribution of sex video by four MPs calls for some consideration of what is going on in Parliament. In February, the DCI summoned MPs Aden Keynan (Eldas), Abdihakim Mohamed (Fafi), Rehema Jaldesa (Isiolo) and Wangui Ngirici (Kirinyaga) after they allegedly distributed inappropriate material and linked it to Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi. 

Nine months later, and what are the results? Nothing so far.

The National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, who chairs the Powers and Privileges Committee, has called out DCI boss George Kinoti. Meanwhile, Mr Kinoti has provided no legitimate reason for this delay and lack of action.

Back in February, the DCI requested that the Clerk of the National Assembly facilitates the appearance of the four MPs at DCI headquarters. The clerk then responded that what the MPs do outside of Parliament is not the House's business.

If someone commits a crime, elected official or not, they should be held accountable. It seems that these MPs have friends in high places who are helping them to behave with impunity. High-up connections that enable people in power to act as they please are nothing new.

As Kenyans we are all equal under the law. We deserve the same rights, but also the same punishments when we commit illegal acts. The anti-graft campaign is a good first step to equalising us as a nation and ensuring that the people we elect are not taking advantage of their position. So far we have seen good progress, mostly in the form of public humiliation. Corrupt people deserve to be shamed!

A second step in the national progression of reshaping our political landscape to make it fairer involves increasing the accountability to which elected officials are subjected.

In other words, we deserve to see what our tax money is going to, and why it is disappearing.

We deserve to know how elected officials spend their time and what changes they are making to better our nation.

We deserve to see progress, and to hold those responsible accountable if nothing is changing.

These demands are why the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce set out to question the Kenyan people. It's about equitable representation, it's about fixing a broken democracy, it's about building a government out of the best and brightest that Kenyan has.

The recent scandal goes to show that sexist MPs have been operating in a macho culture in which women are secondary. This old school mentality is on its way out. The new mentality that Uhuru has, hopefully, been working towards is about quality leadership, irrespective of gender, ethnic background, disability or socioeconomic upbringing.

By reserving spaces for woman representatives, the system allows for candidates to be elected through connections despite lacking appropriate leadership backgrounds. As a result, women representatives are often not treated the same as their male counterparts. The case of MP Gedi is just one example of the lack of respect that they are given.

In essence, the winner takes all system excludes women because it relegates them to fulfill a singular role. Citizens are less likely to vote for female candidates running for regular seats because there are seats reserved for women representatives. Why make an effort to support female leadership when you know that a female is guaranteed to have a spot? This slows down the progress we are working towards as a nation to reach gender parity.

Much action under Uhuru's tenure has addressed the improvement of women's position in society. Just recently he renewed his commitment to fight Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya.

The Linda Mama programme under the Universal Healthcare umbrella aims to improve maternal health. At the recent International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) summit in Nairobi, improving maternal health was a key issue on the agenda. Civil society leaders and thousands of delegates got together to discuss gender-based violence.

The next move is legislative reform that gets to the heart of the matter. The BBI is likely to call for better representation and accountability. When President Uhuru implements that, we can be assured that Kenya will be one of the leading places to be a woman in Africa.

Mr Mugolla comments on topical social and political issues

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