Kenya: MPs to Vote on Two-Thirds Gender Bill on Wednesday

Photo: Capital FM
Women MPs led by Kandara legislator Alice Wahome have accused Majority Leader Aden Duale who sponsored the bill of failing to lobby his male counterparts to support it.
25 February 2019

The National Assembly will on Wednesday take a vote on the elusive two-thirds gender bill.

The bill seeks to bridge the gender disparity in parliament by providing for extra nomination slots for women.

The Constitution says that no gender shall be more than two thirds both in elective and appointive positions in public service.

Out of 349 MPs, the National Assembly has 76 women legislators, representing 21.77 per cent of total members. There in need for at least 39 more female legislators to meet the required threshold.

The Senate, with 21 women members out of 67 (14 per cent), is three members shy of the constitutional requirement of at least 30 per cent.

ABORTED

The passage of the bill, an amendment to the Constitution, aborted in the last session after it was withdrawn by Leader of Majority Aden Duale due to lack of quorum to send it to the third reading stage.

At least two- thirds majority or 233 of the 349 MPs in the National Assembly are required to be in the House before the question is put. All of them must also take a vote in support of the bill for it to proceed.

Had voting on the bill proceeded despite the quorum hitch, it would have required at least six months to be introduced afresh, thanks to the Standing Orders.

On Thursday last week, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi appealed to the legislators to avail themselves for the vote.

He also directed the Committee on Implementation of the Constitution (CIOC) chaired by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni to table a report on representation of various marginalized groups- women, youth, and persons with disabilities and minorities.

CONSTITUTION

"It is important for the House to heed to the provisions of the Constitution. Mobilise (Members of Parliament) on Wednesday and express yourselves," Mr Muturi said.

The gender bill is anchored under Article 100 of the Constitution- on the marginalised groups.

"I hope the message is clear, very soon we will be requiring CIOC to prepare a report to the House on status of implementation of the Constitution. This is important because we may be on wild goose chase," the Speaker said.

The vote will come on the day the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kepowa) was planning to travel to the US for a conference on women.

However, Mr Muturi and Mr Duale urged Kepowa members to shelve their planned tour and vote on the bill.

Mr Duale said that the House leadership has directed Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), his deputy Cecily Mbarire (nominated) and minority whips Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and his deputy Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) to mobilise members to ensure that the bill is passed.

COURT RULINGS

"I expect the whips to do their wok because we need to conclude on this matter so that the bill is not time barred. You are now under instructions to mobilise members to pass this bill," Mr Duale said. He appealed to women MPs to avail themselves in numbers.

The enactment of the gender bill has failed three times. It was among those to be passed during the first five years of enactment of the New Constitution but was delayed by a series of constitutional extensions and court rulings.

Should the MPs fail to pass the bill, the House could find itself in a tight spot as anyone can petition the High Court to have it dissolved by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice.

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