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CJ David Maraga advisory on the two-third gender rule not a preserve for women

By Jane Akinyi Onyango | Oct 4th 2020 | 3 min read
Jane Akinyi Onyango, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya

Chief Justice David Maraga’s unsolicited advisory to President Uhuru on the implementation of the two-third gender rule came as a shocker not only to the parliamentarians but to the nation at large.

The Chief Justice who also doubles up as the President of the Supreme Court and Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission caught the MPs who alongside the Executive and Judiciary form the three arms of Government flat-footed.

Apart from the executive and the parliamentarians, we have recently witnessed uproar from the Human Rights Activists and the Law Society of Kenya over the implementation of the two-third gender rule. The Constitution of Kenya stipulates that both the National Assembly and the senate should not have a composition of more than two-thirds of their members from the same gender.

The term gender has however been misconstrued to mean women but that is not the case. Gender refers to the social differences between females and male throughout the life cycle that are learned and though deeply rooted in every culture, are changeable over time. Gender determines the roles, powers and resources of females and males in any given culture.

The need to give attention to gender relations is as a result of activism surrounding the need to address women’s needs and circumstances since it has for long been believed that women are typically more disadvantaged than men. But on the contrary, the tables could soon change if not turned already, pitting gains for the girl child far much ahead of the boy child.

In March 2017, Justice John Mativo advised that if the gender rule would not have been implemented by the end of 2017, then anyone was at liberty to write to the President of the Supreme Court who in turn shall advise the President to dissolve Parliament.

Three years later and placing reliance on Article 261(7) of the Constitution, the Chief Justice moved in swiftly and proceeded to offer advisory opinion to the President to dissolve Parliament.

The two Speakers of the Parliament of Kenya, comprising of Senate and National Assembly, have however previously raised objections on grounds that it is impossible to give effect to the two-third gender rule without violating the citizens’ political rights under Article 38(3); to vote for a candidate of their own choice or to vie for any elective position in any public body or office.

It is that very objection that should make men worried. According to the National Gender Equality Commission (NGEC) status of the boy child in Kenya report, which is based on the emerging perception of the exclusion of the boy child in the Gender Equality Agenda. Majority of the respondent’s agreed that the boy child is lagging in the gender equality agenda because there has been over-emphasis on the girl child by the government and NGOs in terms of programs and interventions to empower the girl child. This has constantly put the boy child under threat.

This situation has been further aggravated by the aggressive nature by women in which they have taken advantage of the scale tilting towards them and making capital gains on the same. Women have continued to aggressively form caucuses, investment groups, associations and similar initiatives to further their agenda. It is the reason why associations such as the Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern & Southern Africa (WOMESA), KEWOPA, Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA) among others have continued to champion women agenda.

The NGEC report concludes that the impact of the exclusion of boy child from the Gender Equality agenda is likely to manifest itself in increased conflicts with the law, an illiterate population, and an increase in crime, low self-esteem leading to violence, truancy, drug and substance abuse. This will eventually lead to an imbalance in the society where we have a larger number of dependents, low skills development and with little or no entrepreneurship skills.

In lieu of the above, the girl child has been and still is constantly being empowered to the detriment of the boy child. Futuristically, the implication would be that the girl child would step up to leadership in the the quest to better themselves and a reverse of what is currently prevailing shall be witnessed.

Therefore, men should actively participate in matters of gender before the male generation gets devoured by the uprising of girl power activism.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya

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