Encouraging Progress in Public Engagement for Implementation of Two-Thirds Gender Rule

By Seliphar Machoni

The momentum for equal opportunities between men and women in various sectors in Kenya gained traction, prompting stakeholders to address the long-standing issue of the two-thirds gender rule outlined in the 2010 Constitution.

The Multi-Sectoral Working Group (MSWG) initiated a country-wide public participation in Kakamega County to gather public opinions before implementing changes.

Ann Nderitu, a task force member and the registrar of Political parties, emphasised the formulation of a parliamentary Bill enforcing the quota rule for elective posts, advocating a 50-50 distribution of political seats to ensure gender equality.

Highlighting Article 227 (8) of the constitution, which mandates legislative measures for gender representation for fostering gender balance.

“A male governor must have a female deputy as a running mate and vice-versa, saying this will help bridge the gender parity” she added.

Despite being 15 years post-constitution promulgation, gender parity remains elusive in Kakamega, with limited female representation in key political positions.

Ruth Makusu, another task force member, expressed optimism about the current goodwill in both the executive and parliamentary branches for implementing this constitutional provision.

“We now have goodwill at both the executive arm of government and Parliament. We feel the time is now ripe for the implementation of the provision of the constitution that is the only one yet to be implemented, added Ruth Makusu.

Data underscored the gender gap in elected positions, prompting calls for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to enforce compliance with the two-thirds gender rule across political parties.

Participants also identified cultural stereotypes as major obstacles to women’s advancement in employment  sectors and in politics.

The forum shed light on the challenges faced by People Living with Disabilities (PLWD), who emphasised the need for opportunities over sympathy in political participation and decision-making.

Jael Omunami, a nominated Member of the Kakamega County Assembly, suggested affirmative seat nominees should run for office to broaden experience and advocated for mentorship to promote female leadership.

Referencing former Chief Justice David Maraga’s 2020 advice for Parliament dissolution over non-compliance with the quota rule, participants called for sustained efforts to overcome cultural barriers hindering the implementation of gender equality.

Sarah Mukoya, a task force member, outlined their plan to compile and submit a comprehensive report to the Minister of Gender, Asha Jumwa.

The ultimate goal is to present the findings to the cabinet for approval and subsequent processing of a Bill to Parliament, signalling a crucial step toward realising gender inclusivity in Kenyan governance.

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