Lobby groups tell Uhuru to adhere to Maraga advisory

Chairperson Centre for Multiparty Democracy Kenya and Kanu Senator Abshiro Halake (centre) flanked by other women leaders addresses the media at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Women lawyers have backed an advisory by Chief Justice David Maraga to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament for failing to enact the two thirds gender rule.

Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) that held a solidarity march in support of women’s maternal health and gender parity yesterday, said implementation of the two-thirds gender rule was long overdue and it accused Parliament of downplaying the constitutional provision.

The women lawyers say the composition of the bicameral parliament is unconstitutional. “Parliament is in contravention of the Constitution and they have been given more than enough time to enact the necessary legislation but have refused to do so” said Fida executive director Anne Ireri. 

Fida chair Nancy Ikinu said they are in full support of the dissolution of Parliament and urged all stakeholders to come together and promote the compliance of the two thirds gender rule.

“The dissolution of Parliament and holding fresh elections will give Kenyans an opportunity to elect women and provide a space where women and men can compete on an equal platform,” she said.

Ikinu noted that the statements by National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi, show a growing trend of attacking the Judiciary and preventing women from accessing justice and enjoying their full rights as Kenyans.

“Fida Kenya is therefore taken aback by statements from many and including speaker for National Assembly casting aspersions on the character on the person of the Chief Justice,” Ikinu said.

The federation has been in the forefront pushing for the enforcement of the legislation on the two thirds gender principle. Four months ago, they sued speakers of National Assembly and Senate, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Attorney General.

At a separate meeting convened by Centre for Multi Party Democracy, Gilgil MP Martha Wangare said women struggle to have their voices heard and with the current numbers in Parliament, it is hard for a female leader to successfully get a Bill passed.

“Last week, I had a Bill on adoption passed in Parliament, and I can tell you how hard I struggled. Even if all the women vote, you cannot get a Bill passed. Out of 290 constituencies, only 23 of the leaders are women. Those who say that there are many female leaders are wrong,” Wangare said.

In a statement, the participants at the CMD meeting supported the move by Maraga saying it was well within the law. “The women of Kenya are in full support of the CJ’s insistence that the country must hold everyone accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

“We regret the false narrative of misinforming Kenyans and alleging that implementation of the law is costly,” read part of the statement.