Even with the gains made in women’s empowerment, women in Kenya are still getting a raw deal in public jobs as the government plays down the two-thirds gender rule enshrined in the constitution.
According to National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) chair Winfred Lichuma, in a scale of 1-10, Kenyans ranks 4 in upholding the constitutional Gender threshold in the public service.
Mrs Lichuma points out that out of the 31 board appointments made recently to State corporations, only five women were picked to occupy the top position of appointments made.
Women in Politics
Kenya is still trailing her partners in the East African Community in empowering women in politics. The 2015 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Tanzania position 32 in women empowerment politically, with 36 percent women and 64 percent men in parliament; 32 percent women in ministerial positions and 68 percent men.
Uganda is ranked in position 36 out of 142 countries, with 35 percent women in parliament and 65 per cent men; and 30 percent of women in ministerial positions and 70 percent men while Kenya ranks no 62 out of 148 countries surveyed.
The Global Gender Gap Index 2015 ranks 145 economies according to how well they are leveraging their female talent pool, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.
KENYA’S TWO-THIRDS GENDER RULE QUAGMIRE
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK) 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. The government is required to develop policies and laws to ensure that, not more than two-thirds of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same sex.
Despite this, the two-thirds gender threshold has never been implemented and was apparently suspended ahead of the 2013 elections.
KENYA’S JUDICIARY UPHOLDS GENDER BALANCE
The Judiciary takes the lead as the only arm of government that has met the gender threshold in its appointment of magistrates and judges.
Up to 230 of the 462 magistrates countrywide are women, with at least 25 women serving as chief magistrates, compared to 21 men. Of the 43 senior principal magistrates, 16 are women and 27 are men.
The position of resident magistrate also has more women, at 98, compared to 63 men. Of the total 26 judges at the Court of Appeal, eight are women, while 42 of the 105 High Court judges are women. The Supreme Court has two females out of the 6 male judges, with the retirement of Justice Kalpana Rawal set to lower the number to one.