Championing for Two-thirds Gender Rule in Kakamega County

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

The pursuit of gender equality in employment opportunities has gained significant traction, as stakeholders express growing optimism that the constitutional provision of the two-thirds gender principle will finally be comprehensively addressed in Kenya.

In Kakamega, during a public participation event organized by the multi-Sectoral Working Group (MSWG), tasked with effecting the provisions of Article 227 (8) of the constitution, Ann Nderitu, a prominent member of the task force and registrar of Political parties, conveyed the formulation of a comprehensive Bill intended for parliamentary consideration. This proposed legislation seeks to mandate elective positions to adhere strictly to a 50-50 gender distribution, ensuring an equal share of political seats between men and women.

Nderitu, emphasizing the significance of this initiative, stated, “A male governor must have a female deputy as a running mate and vice-versa, thereby contributing to the essential goal of bridging the gender parity gap within political leadership.”

Despite the passage of over 15 years since the promulgation of the constitution, compliance with Article 227 (8) remains elusive. Ruth Makusu, another member of the task force, expressed optimism, saying, “We now observe goodwill at both the executive arm of government and Parliament. The time is ripe for implementing the only provision of the constitution yet to be enforced.”

Analysis of data from Kakamega reveals persistent gender disparities in elected positions, with only three female Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) out of the 60 wards in the county. This stark reality underscores the urgency of addressing gender imbalances within the political landscape.

The public forum also served as a platform for People Living with Disability (PLWD) to voice concerns about their exclusion from political decision-making processes. Susan Mutoka and Pauline Ayondi, representing the Kakamega Disability Forum, underscored the need for opportunities rather than sympathy for PLWD, emphasizing their capability and desire to contribute meaningfully to governance.

In an intriguing proposal, Jael Omunami, a nominated Member of the Kakamega County Assembly, suggested that those nominated on affirmative seats should consider running for election. This, she argued, would not only provide them with an opportunity to participate more actively but also open the doors for others to gain similar experiences.

Participants at the forum also called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to play a more assertive role in enforcing the two-thirds gender rule across all elective posts. They highlighted cultural barriers and a perceived lack of political goodwill as significant impediments to the full realization of this constitutional provision.

The historical context of the two-thirds gender rule in Kenya dates back to Article 27(8) of the 2010 Constitution, which stipulates that the State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of electoral or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. Despite these clear constitutional provisions, progress toward achieving this goal has been slow, prompting increased advocacy and scrutiny.

In 2020, the then Chief Justice David Maraga recommended the dissolution of Parliament for failing to adhere to the two-thirds gender rule. However, this recommendation was suspended following intervention by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which urged political parties to comply with the constitutional requirement.

Sarah Mukoya, a member of the task force, outlined the group’s plans to compile and submit their comprehensive report to the Cabinet Secretary in charge of gender, Asha Jumwa. Following this submission, the report will be presented to the cabinet for approval and eventual processing into a Bill to be presented before Parliament.

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