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Let 2022 give us first female deputy president

OPINION
By Steve Ogolla | November 21st 2021

US President Joe Biden celebrates with his Vice President Sen Kamala Harris after they won the 2020 election. [File, Standard]

A debate on whether the August 9th 2022 presidential election should return Kenya’s first female Deputy President is as good as the idea of strengthening women participation in political processes.

Encouraging women participation in politics is not only a practical sense issue with huge political dividends, it is also a matter of constitutional compliance. At conceptualisation and organisation of the political wing of government, the Constitution is deliberate in making all voices count. The structure of the Senate and the National Assembly, and the County Assemblies is a deliberate constitutional intervention designed to mitigate the problem of previous electoral system that historically excluded women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities from elective and appointive offices.

The Senate comprises of 47 senators directly elected through single-member constituencies, and a further 20 special seat Senators indirectly elected through closed party lists. Out of the 20 special seats, 18 are reserved for women. Similarly, National Assembly comprises of 290 members elected directed in the 290 single-member constituencies, 47 women members elected directly in single-gender constituencies (counties); and a further 12 members elected indirectly through closed party lists for the 12 special seats, half of which must be women.

Looking at basic requirements for political parties as set out in Article 91(1), it can be argued with a degree of certainty that the Constitution does in fact require political party candidates nominated for the elective office of President and Deputy President to be of the opposite gender.

The fact that women constitute the single largest voting bloc makes the idea of nominating a woman as a running mate to the presidential candidate a practical sense issue.

The 2022 presidential poll will be held in the context of increased momentum towards women representation. To begin with, Kenya has produced three elected women governors, Charity Ngilu, Anne Mumbi Kamotho and Joyce Laboso.

These women leaders have demonstrated that given a chance at the ballot, they can deliver just as effectively as their male counterparts.

Differently put, going into the 2022 elections, conversations that have historically been used to exclude women from top leadership positions have been effectively challenged.

The argument that women belong to the private and reproductive spheres while men deserve the public and productive spheres, other than being discriminatory and illegal, has no real political relevance in the present political discourse leading up to the 2022 polls.

Political parties have a pool of capable women candidates to choose from.

The senior-most women leaders are arguably the elected governors. This puts Ngilu and Mumbi in pole position to be nominated as running mates to the presidential candidates.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya

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