AMWIK SUBMISSIONS BEFORE THE MULTI-SECTOR WORKING GROUP (MSWG) SECRETARIAT IN NAIROBI ON 16TH NOVEMBER 2023￼
All protocols observed, Good afternoon.
My name is Patience Nyange, and I serve as the Executive Director of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK).
Thank you for inviting us to this very important engagement today.
AMWIK is a national, independent, non-profit, membership organization for women in media. Our vision is a society where the media embraces and promotes equitable development, human rights and women’s rights. Our mission is to use the media to promote an informed and gender responsive society in Kenya and beyond.
AMWIK has almost 500 members spread in all the 47 counties of Kenya. This brief submission is therefore a reflection of views from the AMWIK family that comprises of the Board, Secretariat, Members and colleagues in the industry.
Collectively, we acknowledge that the media has a very important role in advancing the tenets of diversity, inclusion and equality. We acknowledge that the two thirds gender rule in Kenya refers to the constitutional provision that no more than two-thirds of the members of the elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. The aim is to promote gender equality and ensure that all genders are adequately represented in decision making positions.
The failure by Parliament to enact the 2/3 Gender Rule despite several attempts is like a deadly virus is embedded in the DNA of the 2010 Constitution, which was hailed as a progressive document with entrenched Bill of Rights to enhance democracy in Kenya.
The 2/3rds gender principle is one of the key pillars of democratic and governance ideals in the new constitutional dispensation, to promote the gains of democracy and governance as anchored in the Bill of Rights and other fundamental guarantees.
By failing to enact the Rule Parliament—and indeed, the country– is living dangerously and tempting fate. President William Ruto has expressed his commitment to ensure enactment of the rule and through the ongoing bipartisan talks, there is a glimmer of hope through political and constitutional window to push it.
It is, therefore, important, and urgent for the multi- sectoral team and other stakeholders to seize the chance to ensure realization of the rule. As the media we have a critical role and a patriotic duty to ensure the enactment of this key legislation that affects everybody and every facet of our society. It is about justice, rights, democracy, and governance which the country has sworn to uphold.
Here are our thoughts:
- Having pledged to uphold the Constitution and made a personal commitment to ensure the 2/3rds gender rule is enacted, the Media will seek to hold our President and the entire government into to account by analysing the composition of the current government. This is because the President has an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment through the political appointments. This will be done as a matter of public interest by speaking truth to power.
- We will use our media platforms to debunk myths that the 2/3rds gender rule is a “women thing” (huu sio mswaada wa wanawake) through accurate reportage and analysis. It must be seen a fight for the justice and rights. It is about inclusivity which is a democratic right guaranteed by the law. And women have been far then greatest victims of exclusion from political governance because of retrogressive culture and culture of impunity.
- There is need to create champions, both male and female, to speak about it. There is need to rope in political parties (or is it political investment vehicles?), which run at the whims of influential political figures who won them to work a formula to create alternate Constituency seats for women in their zones. Though costly, if the goodwill fails, the Constitution can be opened up through the ongoing Bipartisan Talks to get the numbers. We must seize this constitutional moment!
- We will be deliberate about advocacy and public education through vernacular and social media to get public buy in. There is need to take the massage to the grassroots through talk shows targeting the youth, women and men to debunk myths about women leadership and its quality.
- We will profile success stories of women leaders who come through the political furnace and are now excelling in leadership to speak to the youth, who are majority but also marginalised.
From a media perspective, we have challenges that we need to present before this panel so that we can work together in ensuring that we do our part as a key stakeholder;
- Limited funds to support visibility of the 2/3rds gender rule through media and public engagement. Focus should be on utilizing media platforms to encourage public discussions and forums that emphasize the importance of gender balance in leadership positions.
- There’s a need for training of journalists on reporting on the 2/3rds gender rule to win support from the mwananchi. This ensures that we provide journalists with training on gender-sensitive reporting and the importance of balanced media representation.
- In a bid to create male champions, we need to continue talking about the reluctance of political parties to prioritize the nomination and support of female candidates. This can be done through support from the media to provide programs on women candidates and leadership.
- Election cycles in Kenya often involve elements such as violence, intimidation, and financial obstacles that disproportionately affect women, creating barriers to their candidacy and gaining the required support. Media is a key ally in promoting women’s agenda and should be supported to highlight the challenges that face women candidates during electioneering period.
- The translation of 2/3rds gender rule provision into tangible laws and policies poses a challenge. The absence of robust enforcement mechanisms impedes practical application. The media can be supported to highlight and challenge the law makers to make the implementation of these laws a priority.
- Resistance from legislatures and interest groups, contesting the necessity or feasibility of the gender rule, presents a hurdle in effecting legislative changes essential for its successful implementation.
- The scarcity of resource allocation for women’s political empowerment, encompassing campaign funding and support structures, curtails their capacity to compete on equal footing within male-dominated political spheres.
- Women may lack access to education or information regarding their rights and avenues for political leadership, constraining their involvement in this arena.
We reiterate our commitment that the media will provide key roles in advancing the promotion of 2/3rds gender rule through;
- Awareness and sensitisation
- Highlighting gender disparities
- Showcasing success stories
- Upscaling coverage of gender-related issues
- Promoting inclusive dialogue
- Editorial advocacy and collaboration with advocacy groups
- Monitoring and evaluation of the 2/3rds gender rule. We will report on progress, setbacks and areas that need improvement and we will hold institutions accountable and encourage them to fulfil their obligations.
We are committed and we will play an important role in shaping public opinion, influencing policies, fostering societal change regarding the 2/3rds gender rule. Call on us. See us as a stakeholder and an ally in the advancement of gender equality in Kenya.
Presented on behalf of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK)