14 March 2013

Kenya: Five Per Cent Women MPs to Represent Kenyan Women Aspirations


"So far according to our estimates, it is about seven per cent of women for the senate, seven per cent for the county assembly, and only three per cent for women governor candidates," said Ms Monika Izydorczyk, a member of the EU observer mission.

The observers report reveals the truth on global statistics that indicate less than 16 per cent of the world's parliamentarians are women. If it were not for affirmative action on gender as enshrined in the laws of the land, Kenya would be faring badly indeed at the 5 per cent mark.

When the final election results were announced, only 16 Women had been elected as MPs. None of those that vied for the governor or senator positions won. Suffice to say that the number of women MPs elect remained the same as in the previous Parliament despite the exponential increase of constituencies from 210 to 290 countrywide.

In the 2007 elections, 16 women were elected to Parliament while another six were nominated.

After this elections and factoring in the new constitutional provisions, the number of women will be 63 or more in the National Assembly. However, article 81(b) of the new constitution states that more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender. The rule was meant to increase women's participation in politics and based on this rule, at least 117 MPs should be female now that males are still likely to dominate.

It is evident that the number of women in the 11th Parliament will go up, not because they were elected but because of the affirmative action in the new constitution that provide for thecounty women representatives. Forty seven women representatives from all the counties and a few other slots up for nominations will be added to the elect MPs. This will likely end up with over 21 per cent women representation in Parliament.

Although this seems to be the highest ever number of women in the Parliament, it is worrisome that there is no single woman who was elected to the first ever Kenyan Senate. The constitution however provides for nomination of up to 16 women to the senate based on political party strength.

The position of governor is purely elective and just like the President; Kenyans did not entrust any of the women aspirants to manage the newly created 47 counties.

In the 10th parliament, there were 22 women MPs out of a the 224 members. One step more into the past indicate that the 9th Parliament had far less representation at 18. These percentages are so much below the recommended threshold of 30 per cent under the new constitution.

One indicator of gender inequality is the small number of women in decision making positions and other national governance structures.

The 16 women who were elected to Parliament in last weeks polls include: Peris Tobiko, Alice Ng'ang'a, Grace Kipchoim, Rachael Nyamai, Millie Odhiambo, Mary Emaase, Regina Ndambuki, Jessica Kuko, Esther Gathogo, Mary Wambui, Naomi Shaban, Joyce Laboso, Esther Murugi, Cecily Mbarire, Alice Wahome and Hellen Sambili.

It is incumbent for them to lead from the front in defending women rights at the policy and governance levels including fighting for the realisation of the constitutional provisions on the two thirds rule.

The writer is a peace and media coordinator, with the Peace Initiative Kenya

Copyright © 2013 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.