President Mwai Kibaki has weighed in on the gender rule debate, saying women must fight for elective positions.
Speaking at the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation's (MYWO) 60th anniversary celebrations held at the KICC on Monday, the president told women they should not wait to have positions of power handed to them. "Let me call on women across our beautiful country to seek elective positions in the next general election. I use the word to seek because there is no way of getting anything for free."
Prior to the president's statement MYWO chair Rukia Subow asserted that the one third gender rule be implemented in full. "The Kenyan constitution entrenches the one third principle for either gender in all appointive and elective positions ensuring that women are no longer marginalised in private and public life." "The one third gender rule provides the affirmative action women need to take for past injustices."
In response, the president said: "We have already accepted that you have a right to seek these positions but that must not misguide you." "It is a fact that you have to seek these positions. It is not going to come from any other source. You have men who have struggled hard and women also who have struggled even harder."
The one third gender rule debate has been raging leading Attorney General Githu Muigai to seek the Supreme Court's direction last month. Article 81 (b) of the constitution directs that an elective public body should not have more than two thirds of its members of the same gender.
These guidelines have been adhered to in the formation of constitutional commissions but as the AG's petition to the Supreme Court read, "While the Constitution provides how this rule will be achieved for County Assemblies, it is silent on how it will be realised for both Senate and the National Assembly."
President Kibaki did however acknowledge tremendous strides the new constitution has made toward achieving gender equality. "Our new constitution guarantees women rights that were previously absent." "Guaranteeing that women are able to pass on citizenship to their children regardless of whether or not they are married to Kenyans and elimination of gender discrimination in relation to land and property."
Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation Patron Jane Kiano weighed in on the general elections set for March 4 saying with a membership of four million, the organisation could determine who would win. "Maendeleo has structures up to the grass root level. I don't think there is a political party that has the machinery we have. Today Maendeleo can determine who will be the next president."
The implementation of the one third gender rule in the Senate and National Assembly was not the only thing Subow asked of the government; she asked that the organisation be spared from paying tax as it seeks to alleviate poverty.
Rahab Muyu, Subow's vice chair, went on to ask that the organisation be included in the budget.