Kenya: Odinga, Kalonzo Urge MPs to Support Gender Bill

Some MPs hold a discussion during the debate on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the House on November 21, 2018.
20 November 2018

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka have rallied their troops in the National Assembly to support the two-thirds gender rule bill.

In a statement, Mr Odinga said Parliament has in the past has the rights of women by refusing to enact legislation to enforce the constitutional principle that not more than two thirds of its members should be of the same gender.

"The Kenya Amendment Bill 2018 being tabled on Wednesday is meant to help the country realise the right to equality and freedom from discrimination for women as stipulated in the Constitution," Mr Odinga said.

The affirmative action is required to bridge the gender disparity between women and men in both appointive and elective public bodies.

ELECTIVE BODIES

Article 81 (b) provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies, among them Parliament, shall be of the same gender.

Currently, the National Assembly has 75 women MPs- 22 elected from the 290 constituencies in the last election, six nominated in the 12 nomination slots while 47 were elected from the counties in the spirit of affirmative action. The Senate has three elected women senators from the 47 counties and 18 nominated.

Mr Odinga decried that despite Kenya being a dominant political and economic power in the region, it remains the only country yet to establish an affirmative action for gender representation in Parliament.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Kenya ranks far below Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in the implementation of the affirmation action.

The bill by National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale, is set for debate today. It proposes special nomination seats for women to be shared among political parties depending on the strength in Parliament.

Mr Kalonzo said passing of the bill will not only ensure strict compliance with one of the key requirements of the Constitution but it will also help the marginalised constituencies and groups to meaningfully participate in the nation's politics.

Mr Musyoka appealed to the male MPs not to walk out during the debate of the bill this afternoon.

SUPPORT BILL

"I plead with not only MPs from my party but also with the rest of the honourable menfolk who are the majority in the House to turn up today and vote for the bill," Mr Musyoka said.

This comes as the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association on Monday continued to lobby their male colleagues to support the bill.

At a breakfast meeting at a Nairobi hotel, the MPs urged the public not to view the bill as a 'women bill' but a constitutional requirement.

TAKING STOCK

Speaking during the meeting aimed at taking stock of the cost implication of the implementation of the two-thirds gender bill, Institute of Economic Affairs chief executive Kwame Owino said the cost implication is negligible.

"The Parliamentary Service Commission will only need an additional 1.5 per cent in their current budget to implement the bill," Mr Owino said.

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