As the world commemorates International Women’s Day, the country celebrates the milestones women in Kenya have made in the political sphere.
Although the gender parity still remains large, the August elections saw an increase in the number of women who were elected in office in all the houses of parliament.
Three women namely; Charity Ngilu (Kitui County), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga County), and Joyce Laboso (Bomet County) were elected governors, making them the first women to ascend into that political space since the introduction of the devolved system of governance following the promulgation of the 2010 constitution.
In the 2013 general elections, no single woman had been elected Governor in all 47 counties.
Three other women were also elected senators for the first time in the 2017 general elections; Susan Kihika (Nakuru County) Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo).
The number of female MPs elected also rose to 22 up from 16 in the 11th parliament. In general, 75 women were elected in the August 2017 general elections.
Although Kenya is yet to meet the two-thirds gender rule requirement, this milestone is still largely considered a step in the right direction.
In a country that is still largely patriarchal, Women who step out to vie for elective politics face many barriers including discrimination, gender-based violence, financial constraints among others.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, who was speaking at a Women in Business Forum held yesterday at a Nairobi hotel, called for speedy implementation of the two-thirds gender rule.
She also said that in line with the theme for the 2018 International Women’s Day; #PressForProgress, they are aiming to have women elected governors in the 2022 general elections.
“We are deliberate about getting 13 female governors in 2022 and we are already putting up practical strategies at the senate, at the county assemblies and in every other forum,” said Waiguru, who is also the deputy chairperson Council of Governors (COG).
Waiguru attributes the resolve to empower more women politically to a sweeping change in the world of politics.
“Women can do anything if they put their heart to it, “she said.
She also celebrated women who are trailblazers in the corporate world; Gina Din Kariuki, Terryanne Chebet and Isuzu Kenya MD Rita Kavashe.
Even with the notable milestones in women empowerment across the globe, it will take 200 years to close the gender gap according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report.
Implementing the Two-Thirds Gender Rule
Parliament has been lethargic in implementing the two-thirds gender rule, in line with Articles 81 (b) of the constitution. The two-thirds gender rule debate has failed in Parliament five times with the National Assembly failing to pass the two-thirds gender rule bill on two occasions last year.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 recognizes women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities as special groups deserving of constitutional protection with Article 81 (b) stating that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender”. Article 27 goes further to obligate the government to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programs and policies to address the past discrimination that women have faced.
In a landmark ruling made last year, Justice John Mativo accused the National assembly and the senate of abdicating their constitutional mandate for the failure to enact legislation to ensure gender equality. He further directed Parliament and the Attorney General to enact the two-thirds gender rule in 60 days.