Women leaders allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga have opposed any attempt to scrap the 47 women representative positions in the yet to be released Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.
Under the banner of ‘Embrace’, the leaders say they will support BBI only if the women’s positions are retained and more slots created in the Senate.
They also want the BBI experts to fix the elusive two-thirds gender rule once and for all.
The leaders, drawn from a cross-section of political parties, and led by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Senate Deputy Majority leader Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo), exuded confidence that there would be a permanent solution to the gender representation, adding that since Parliament had been unable to enact legislation, it was time to fix it under the BBI.
“The best avenue to address the standoff that has frustrated the gender rule is the BBI. In this regard, while expressing our support for the BBI agenda, the process should not only protect but expand women’s gains in the Constitution,” said Ms Waiguru.
They also rooted for alternative gender principles at all levels of governance.
They said women represented more than 50 per cent of the country’s population and as such deserved to be at every level of governance.
“We are asking for gender alternatives so that if the governor is male, the deputy should be female, if the Speaker is male, the deputy speaker should be female,” said Waiguru.
The BBI task force team had proposed that if a governor is male, the deputy should be female.
“We have faith in the experts. It will not be just another proposal to Parliament,” she said.
Dullo asked those already opposing the BBI report and its contents before reading it to stop, saying Kenyans should reject personal interests.
“You cannot oppose what you don’t know. Kenyans should reject those opposing BBI for personal interests,” said Dullo.
She urged politicians and the electorate to maintain peace before and after the release of the report.
MPs Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Gladwell Cheruiyot (Baringo) and Esther Passaris (Nairobi) urged the Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji-led taskforce to ensure nothing was taken away from what women already have.
It is understood that the BBI has proposed to have Kenyans vote for 94 senators in the 2022 General Election to deal with the emotive two-thirds gender rule, meaning the Senate will have one man and one woman elected from every county.
Reports also indicate that the position of Women Representatives at the National Assembly will be scrapped.