31 October 2012

Kenya: Women Advised to Take Up Leadership Positions

The Chief Gender Monitor, Oda Gasinzigwa, has advised a visiting Kenyan delegation, to seek political leadership positions in their country as a way of prioritising gender equality.

Gasinzigwa made the remarks when she received officials from the National Gender and Equality Commission at her office yesterday.

The chairperson of the Commission, Winfred Osimbo Lichuma, who is leading the delegation, said they came to borrow a leaf on how Rwanda had managed to have a majority women representation in parliament.

In her response, Gasanzigwa said there was need for political will for this to be realised.

She further called for mobilisation of women at the grassroots level in order for them to seek and assume leadership positions.

Osimbo however decried the political system in her country as well as people's mindset. In spite of several years of affirmative action in Kenya, the political parties are said to have rejected a clause that calls for 30 percent women representation during the amendment of the political party laws.

She added that under the current laws, getting 30 percent women representation in parliament remains far fetched.

"Currently, there is a constitutional problem in our country; we have petitioned the Supreme Court on the matter that if women are not elected, they should be nominated," she said.

She added that this cannot be achieved without putting in place proper mechanisms. Unlike Rwanda which has an overwhelming 56 percent women representation in parliament; Kenya has a meagre 9.8 percent.

However, although the Gender Monitoring Office has made tremendous progress in tackling gender issues, challenges abound, especially in obtaining information from government departments.

"Getting information and data is sometimes difficult and we have to go through the Office of the Prime Minister," she said.

She also requested civil society organisations to work together with her office in some areas to avoid duplication.

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