Women leaders meet to reflect on Katiba at 10 and gains of women

Women leaders have faulted political parties as the biggest hindrance to achieving the two-thirds gender rule.

In a meeting dubbed “Women must lead” that brought stakeholders from different sectors including politics, NGOs and government representatives, the women said it all.

“Gender discrimination has become normal that women cease to notice it,” said Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua, urging women to boldly fight for inclusion.

Yesterday’s meeting was in line with celebrations and reflection of the 2010 Constitution and the gains that have been made since its promulgation.

The women felt that failure to implement Article 81(b) that guides on the two-third gender rule is deliberate, and it is time for women to come up with strategies to ensure changes.

“In 2010, women redefined their purpose and refused to be divided along political lines. That is how we got the gains enshrined in the Constitution,” said the former minister.

Fair and square

The debate on women in leadership and affirmative action took off, with key questions asked: Should women be given a chance to lead by virtue of their gender? Shouldn’t they fight fair and square with the men? Isn’t it time the men in power, including leaders of political parties come up with rules that make it easier for women to get a chance to effectively compete?

Personal experiences from the attendees recounted the never-ending quest for gender equity. Nominated MP Prof Jacqueline Oduor retraced her journey from the Beijing’ conference in 1995 and coming back with a resolve to speak up against the injustices women were put through.

“Speak up when you see a woman being put down. People burden women with guilt and shame,” she said.

Memory Kachambwa, the Femnet executive director, said women should find ways to reposition themselves for leadership roles. 

Nominated Senator Gertrude Musuruve said the conversation about two-thirds gender rule cannot be complete without the inclusion of people with disability. She said political parties should make efforts that ensure people with disability get a chance. “Making it as a politician if you do not have money is hard. Imagine how difficult is if you have a disability.”

Millie Odhiambo, Suba North MP chronicled how she struggled in her bid to get into politics, saying she was cyber-bullied and attacked by other politicians.

“People do not reach out to us because we are assumed to be strong. No matter how strong you are, these things eventually get to you.”