The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 explicitly stipulates that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender. This affirmative action enhances gender equality whilst prioritizing women’s representation in the National Assembly, County Assemblies, the Judiciary and all state offices.
In Kenya, media is a vital pillar of democracy, underpinned by a legacy of press freedom, and a thriving media landscape.
Its Societal-shaping concept plays a major role in realizing Gender parity in the country. This is because it has a powerful impact on shaping our thoughts while influencing societal structures and systems. Media helps society understand matters of gender, norms and stereotypes.
Media also has the ability to apply pressure on the government as well as criticize the drawbacks of democracy in the country. This is important since it pushes the parliament to expedite the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule for elective positions which has been stalling in the corridors of power.
Media educates the society about the current issues and influences the public opinion. Through its educative aspect, society is able to learn and act upon various issues affecting them. This can be achieved through community engagement programs that empower them.
For example, the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) is at the forefront of advocating for women’s rights as well as promoting a gender-responsive society. It has been conducting several programs targeting girls and women and bringing the success stories of those in the political arena into the limelight. This is with the aim of empowering women and building confidence that they too can lead.
Although the new constitution lays a foundation for the development of a gender parity agenda in the country, there is still a big gap in achieving this. The stakeholders have to up their game and make sure that gender equality is achieved in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals SDG 5- which advocates to end gender disparities and secure equal participation and opportunities for leadership.
By Mercy Mutwol, AMWIK Intern