The August 27, 2016 deadline on the Gender Bill enactment is gone. It will be 83 days since the rejection of the gender bill by members of Parliament and three months shy for it to go back to Parliament.
And the way it looks, only a constitutional crisis will save the Gender Bill .The only language our Honourable members will respond to is if their salaries are not forth coming. This is perhaps what a constitutional crisis will mean.
Why is this gender bill important and why must it be implemented expeditiously? Women inclusivity is one of the solutions to acute poverty levels as well as the ever increasing gap between the poor and the rich (unequal distribution of resources).
Of Nairobi’s residents, 60 to 70 per cent are estimated to be living in informal settlements. It is heartbreaking that millions of Kenyans throughout the Country wallow in poverty without the basics of food, shelter, and clothing.The struggle to put women and men on an equal footing with equal opportunities, expanded operating space calls for a bending backwards to offer a helping hand to women.
It is imperative that the political class should lead from the front in integrating women and including them in all nation building circles, lessons learnt from the other Countries that have achieved above one-third representation in leadership, in the social and economic circles.
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These countries have reported growth in economy, community development and improvement of the general livelihood of their citizenry.
More than half of Kenya’s population is made of women. It is a pity, however, that with the rejection of the Gender Bill by Members of Parliament, Kenya continues to entrench systematic political marginalisation of more than half the country’s population.
I echo the words of US President Barack Obama when he spoke about gender imbalance in Kenya, he rightly put it ‘it is like having a team that does not allow the other half to play.’ This integration and inclusivity we are clamouring for calls for massive investment. It calls for visionary, deliberate and determined investment in women.
Like in the construction of a building or a football team, apart from talent the players need to be trained, prepared and correct placement done to achieve the projected results. That is the kind of commitment we wish to see.
Nominating more women to bridge the gender gap and having more women on the decision-making table is just a fraction of it. Every organization also needs to be encouraged to create one-third working space for women.
More work needs to be done in terms of by- sector employment, creation of low cadre jobs and adult schools. This is because the most important and difficult part is inclusion in this process of the many women who are now grown up yet illiterate. Those who, despite the adoption of the new constitution which grants women basic rights, are vanquished by taboos.
The victims of mental poverty, and past prejudices that women have had forced down their psyche while they grew up which predisposes them to vote against their own interests.
A tale of many girls who have had to get married to older men or work as house girls and other ungodly things so that their brothers can go school.
Their fate is our story, the Kenyan story that needs conversation and solution. A cry for civil education and a change in cultural indoctrination.Investing in its people is the greatest investment a Country can undertake.
The economic price is draining but the rewards, benefits to or profits are more than we can imagine. It is a proven fact that you can never go wrong when you invest in women.