Despite liberal laws touching on equal opportunities for men and women, little if anything, has changed in Kenya’s gender arena.
It is disheartening that in this modern day and age, rights of Kenyan women are still subjugated by patriarchal tendencies in politics.
Regardless of the many qualities they possess, women stand little or no chance to a political office. Admittedly, Kenyan politics has remained an exclusive male club.
Most women leaders typically rely on tokenism by men to shine, be heard and make an impact. Those who land nomination slots are mostly flower girls and mere proxies of male politicians.
More than 50 years after independence, only Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua have taken a serious stab at the presidency. Fewer and fewer women have risen to be national political icons.
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The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has heralded another ‘constitutional moment’. However, the drivers of the process are mostly male.
BBI roots for additional 70 more constituencies, but fails to give a guarantee that more women will occupy them. Our level of exclusion of women should worry us. Just last month, Chief Justice David Maraga called on President Uhuru Kenyata to dissolve Parliament on the basis of failure to implement the two-thirds gender rule.
Unless we change our attitudes toward having a woman at the apex of authority, we will continue having a terribly unequal society. In fact, it will be a lose-lose situation. Discrimination of any form, be it in political, economic, social and cultural circles, weakens the society as a whole.
While stressing her belief in women’s leadership abilities, Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir, (1969-1974), once said: “Whether women are better than men, I cannot say, but I can say that they are certainly not worse”.
We have an obligation to empower women through a sustained affirmative action. Laws alone aren’t enough. It calls for a total change in attitudes, behaviour and beliefs. Women and men have routinely voted for men. There’s no reason why women and men cannot vote for more women.
Riding on the BBI moments, let’s right the wrongs and end discriminatory tendencies linked to gender. Women and the youth, too, have to relentlessly stretch the limits.