20 Mag

Kenya has always been seen as a leading force in East Africa. Taking the center stage and literally leading from the front. It is no wonder an envy of it partners in the region since they seem to have put their act all together. But wait. There’s a blemish that is turning this beautiful fruit to have a sour taste. Begging the question whether it is true from the saying; Kenya you preach water and drink wine.

Implementation of the Two-Third gender rule in order to accommodate equity in Kenya is not only a constitutional right but it is also affordable contrary to other opinions. A report released by the Institute of Economic Affairs in Kenya has disputed the notions opposed by some Legislators who claim it will be a costly affair. A fast approaching deadline for Kenya is August 27th 2015 requiring implementation of the constitution in Article 27 (8): “Not more than two thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender”. This has elicited acidic reactions both in Parliament and outside. For the two-third rule to take effect and ensure that it works in Kenya an additional 70 seats will be required at an additional cost of 8.9 billion shillings from the current 7.6 billion shillings which is the cost of 5Km of the Standard Gauge Railway.

According to the report Kenya lags behind with 21% representation of women in parliament while Rwanda leads with 58% followed by Tanzania with 36% while Uganda and Burundi are at par with 35%.

Despite Kenya’s relatively large economy in East Africa it has not achieved gender equity in its legislature, measured by women in its national legislator. In Kenya’s August House there are 349 Members and only 68 are women while in the Senate 67 Members and only 18 of them are women. The report further shows the leadership appointment of women since March 2013 year to march 2015 has not met a third minimum threshold. With a total of 452 appointments 343 went to the men while 109 only were given to women.

The report shows under-representation of women in positions of power is untenable since a Kenya cannot progress economically and politically if they are not given a chance to participate in key decision making processes.

Pundits will ask what has been gains have been achieved in the rest of East Africa for having a huge women representation. Kevin Kavai of Open Institute attributed minimal difference seen in Women leadership as “Women will gain the respect required and make changes if they vie for the Leadership posts and not ask for leniency or nominations”.

UN Goodwill ambassador and former Kenyan Legislator Hon Dr. Phoebe Asiyo urged women to participate in elections like the men “Put your best foot forward and support women. But you know ladies you must prepare and stand for elections. You can do it because you have the numbers.”

Dr. Asiyo urged women not to lower the bar and take the bull by its horn saying “This is not about the cost. It’s just about women bringing different leadership in the country and in parliament.” Affirming the Research done by the Institute of Economic Affairs shows from the estimates of national Budget Allocation for 2014/15, to implement the two-third rule will be a drop in the ocean compared to the Executive estimated spending of over 60% of the National budget. Parliament consumes 1.5% of the National budget compared tothe Executive which consumes 42 times more of the public money.

Executive Director of Institute for Education and Democracy Brian Weke lauded the report saying “The additional seventy seats are quite cheaper than 5km of the Standard Gauge railway. Men should come out and support our women. It is a gender issue that will ensure women participate effectively in matters of governance in the country”.

This has raised a major concern among lawmakers and has led Kibra Legislator Ken Okoth to declare himself as the champion of the course that will see increase of women representation in parliament “I think it is affordable and I support this, we need more women representation. I have a formula which requires us to talk to the County assemblies 24 out of 27 support and then come to parliament and the bill will pass through the County assembly.” With an estimated additional cost of 21.1 million for one Parliamentary seat while 31.3 million shillings for a Senate seat East Africa is watching how Kenya will play out its card in implementing the two-third gender rule.


by Winnie Kamau
Freelance Data Journalist
Media Relations Consultant



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