Kenya should do more to make gender parity a reality

NAIROBI: Kenya will on Thursday host the 5th Africa Public Service Day (APSD) celebrations, with corruption as the major challenge to Africa’s set developmental goals and specifically, the advancement of women.

African women constitute over half of the continent’s population and should be well represented in public service and administration. Such desired representation, they have argued, will enable them to contribute significantly to the accomplishment of the Africa Agenda 2063.

It has been envisaged that when Africa Agenda 2063 is achieved, African governments will have full gender parity. And that this can be achieved if AU member states prioritise development and implementation of the national gender policy.

However, the organisation has identified corruption as a major threat to the accomplishment of the African Agenda 2063, unless AU member states prioritise the ratification and implementation of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in all sectors.

Corruption can only be tackled under this plan if at least 15 member states ratify the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration.

So far, only nine countries have committed themselves including Kenya. A review of this situation during forthcoming celebrations will determine the level of commitment on the African continent in tackling corruption menace.

Initiatives through the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, seem to be walking the talk on gender parity, save for the setbacks witnessed recently with the two-third Gender Rule through the so-called Duale Bill in Parliament.

Efforts to realise Affirmative Action legislation and increase the participation of women in Kenya resulted in the inclusion of the two-thirds gender principle in the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

Affirmative Action seats were created prior to the 2013 General Election in efforts to satisfy the two-thirds gender principle and include other special interest groups in leadership.

Thereafter, 679 women were nominated to the county assemblies, five women were nominated out of the 12 seats for special interest groups, and 16 women were nominated to the Senate from party lists in proportion to the number of seats won by each party.

Further, 47 women were elected as women representatives of all counties, and therefore Members of Parliament, on the basis of 47 positions created in efforts to realise the equality principle.

However, this fell short of the constitutional requirement. As we are aware, no women were elected into the Senate while the county governments achieved the threshold at 34 per cent representation of women.

APSD has argued that highlighting gender equality in public service and administration will lead to; poverty reduction and sustainable development, good governance and development, climate change and environmental sustainability, peace and unity.

The Government has formulated policies and created a number of institutions that seek to empower women and provide them with the necessary facilities and funding for entrepreneurship.

For instance, the Women’s Enterprise Fund provides accessible and affordable credit to support women to start or expand business for wealth and employment creation.

The fund has cumulatively disbursed Sh7.51 Billion to 59,824 self-help women groups since inception, benefiting 1,158,328 individual women across the country. The fund now boasts an average loan repayment rate of 87 per cent nationally.

Further, women are accessing the 30 per cent public procurement preferential reservations, which also benefit the youth and persons with disability. 

The APSD should do more to encourage member states to speed their commitments to realise the African Agenda 2063.