Lack of political goodwill, poor public understanding and deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes are some of the major challenges facing implementation of the Two-Third Gender rule, it has emerged.
Enactment of the gender rule has also been marred by a negative mood in the country, with people fearing over-representation of women in leadership positions should the principle be implemented.
These are some of the threats and challenges discussed at a media café organized by AMWIK and bringing together journalists from different media houses to discuss the pending Two-Third gender principle.
Present at the media café was Nancy Gathoni, an advocate with the Women’s Empowerment Link, who noted that Article 177of the constitution is in tandem with implementation of the principle.
Article 177 (1) (b) provides that the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender. She however noted that despite these provisions by the constitution, there are no measures and practical solutions for implementation.
“A framework for implementing the rule is missing in the senate and the national assembly,” states Sylvester Mbithi, a Legal Officer at the National Gender and Equality Commission.
Mbithi, who has been part of the technical working group set up by the Attorney General to discuss implementation of the rule, says that the only way to get an effective formula for implementing the principle is by amending the constitution through a referendum.
So far there have been four bills tabled in parliament aimed at guiding implementation of the gender principle. These include the Chepkonga Bill, the Compromise Bill, the Sijeny Bill and Duale Bill 2.
However, only one of the bills-the Sijeny Bill proposed by Nominated Senator Judith Sijeny-has been called for a second reading. Mbithi says that although parliament has enough power and capacity to implement the bill, there is a general lack of goodwill among the members to do so.
“For instance, the Chepkonga Bill is still in parliament yet it serves no purpose,” he says adding “parliament needs to get rid of all these bills and focus on just one.”
The Chepkonga Bill was proposed by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga who chairs the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the National Assembly.
Mbithi warns that the current parliament risks disbandment if it does not implement the principle by August this year as this is the last chance parliament has to complete deliberations on the principle.
Also discussed at the forum were myths surrounding the implementation of the gender rule. One such myth is that when the rule is implemented, women will take over men’s roles and subjugate them in leadership.
Marceline Nyambala, Programs Manager and acting CEO at AMWIK reiterated that the political terrain in Kenya is currently too violent for women to participate.
“Political campaigns are too expensive for women, and women are never nominated by their political parties, so they do not have any support,” she says noting that political representation of women in the Kenyan national assembly is currently the lowest at 19.7 percent.
This is against Uganda where women representation is currently at 35 percent, Tanzania at 36 percent and South Africa at 41.9 percent.
Nyambala noted that the female perspective is evidently missing in many areas of leadership. “We would also like to see this principle implemented in our editorial boards,” she said adding “When women are represented, there are certain critical issues which will be addressed that we are currently missing.”
Among the recommendations made at the forum was a call on development partners to push county governors to embrace the gender rule.
AMWIK and NGEC are already at the forefront of mobilizing the public to change their mood and attitudes towards the gender principle and to create a collective voice for its implementation.
NGEC has launched a campaign dubbed Tubaidili Tusitawi Pamoja which uses male participants to champion for the cause.
AMWIK is also engaging the public through its radio listening groups to raise awareness on the gender principle.