Kenya: Women Push for 50-50 Representation in Govt Under BBI Constitutional Review

14 February 2020

Nairobi — Women groups Thursday renewed calls for equal representation in all levels of government as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) steering committee convened in Nairobi to receive memoranda in the second phase of constitutional review process.

The Senator Yusuf Haji-led 14-member team heard from women groups under the umbrella union, Common Women Agenda.

The steering committee was set to continue its hearings on Friday with presentations from political parties and activists.

It had suspended its activities last week following the death of former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi.

In their proposal, the Common Women Agenda group called for inclusion of women in all governance structure to be created under the constitutional review and a clearly defined structure to facilitate negotiations, sensitization, drafting and implementation of BBI recommendations.

"If there will be committees, taskforces, at the national, county, village or whatever level convening, negotiating and making decisions on the next steps, a 50:50 gender representation be observed in these; women should chair 50per cent of any such committees and be deputies in the other 50 per cent," part of the proposal indicated.

Senator Margaret Kamar, while presenting their views to the taskforce, said that the BBI should ensure equity and gender balance in the county executive committees composition with minimum quota for women representation set at one third.

Uasin Gishu Senator further said that the proportion of funding that must be devolved should be increase from the current 15 per cent to 45 per cent of the audited accounts from the previous financial year.

Under the current dispensation, county governments receive funding based on last audited accounts which in often cases date back to two or more financial years.

"The BBI should have reforms that ensure that effective auditing is enhanced, and Senate should be strengthened in order to protect devolution, the Senate should always remain the Upper House," she added.

In their proposal to the Haji-led committee, the group wanted the opposite gender rule proposed in the BBI to apply at the national level where male presidential candidate will pick women as their running mates and vice versa.

"We want this to be applied on all commissions, taskforces among other appointments."

The women also proposed the presentation data by Security Council on the status of violence against women annually in a bid to address rampant cases in the country.

"Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) should be recognized as a serious criminal offence and a national security concern that should also be addressed by the National Security Council," part of the report read.

The group also called for an increase in the number of government DNA centers in the country since they play a key role in resolving femicide cases.

They also called for the inclusion of women who play important roles in nation building both pre and post-independence such as Mekatilili wa Menza in annals of history.

"The current institutions of elders must reform, recognize and integrate female elders who should also be involved in public consultations on key matters affecting," the women stated in a report presented to the BBI steering committee.

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