Fresh Two Thirds Gender Rule Bid Goes Before Kenya’s Senate

By Simon Ndonga

Nairobi — A fresh attempt to achieve gender parity in elective positions will be made on Thursday when a Motion to table a Bill on the two thirds gender rule, sponsored by nominated Senator Judith Sijeny is presented before the Senate.

Speaking during a media briefing Wednesday morning, Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki emphasised the need for gender balance in elective politics.

She pointed out that the formula will only be applied after the 2017 elections if the desired balance is not achieved during the polls.

“If we focus on SDG number five, it is really nothing else except empowering women and ensuring we attain gender equity. If we say gender equality it means women empowerment and goes on to underscore not only the importance of women but also girls,” she stated.

A government sponsored bill seeking to entrench the two-thirds gender rule failed to sail through the National Assembly three months ago, a move the Gender CS attributed to intense lobbying by opposing members and lack of proper information to the public.

“One of the reasons for the failure of the Duale Bill was lobbying by those opposed to it. My ministry and other stakeholders at that time did all we could but we also need to bring in the media so that we can get as much traction as is sufficient,” she said.

She explained that the defeat resulted in a missed opportunity to comply with constitutionally specified timelines but pointed out that the one before Senate presented another opportunity.

“We now have another opportunity through the Sijeny Bill tabled in the Senate as a private members Bill. It is agreed among key stakeholders that Sijeny Bill currently before the Senate is the most viable option to attempt meet the fast approaching deadline of 27th August 2016 stipulated in the Fifth Schedule if passed successfully,” she stated.

She indicated that the Sijeny Bill has provided a sunset clause and also limited the number times that one may benefit from being nominated under this mechanism.

“We fully support the Sijeny Bill and in collaboration with all the stakeholders have agreed to work concertedly to ensure success of the Sijeny Bill before the Senate. We now call upon each and every Honourable Senator to turn up tomorrow in the House and vote ‘Yes’ for this Bill,” she stated.

She noted that two main issues raised in opposition to the passing of the law include the perceived fear that ‘women will get free rides to Parliament’ and will not be required to compete and work hard for these seats like the men.

She stated that opposition to the manner in which political parties nominated the candidates to the affirmative seats was also another factor.

Attorney General Githu Muigai expressed confidence that the motion will sail through both Houses of Parliament though downplaying the urgency of the process saying the time remaining to implement it is sufficient.

“I am very cautiously optimistic that tomorrow maybe the turning point that we require but I do not foresee a constitutional crisis of any nature. This issue comes to a crunch when the election kicks in so that in principal we still would have one more year to work around it,” he pointed out.

The AG stated that the Senate Bill largely mirrors the aspirations of the government sponsored intervention through the Duale Bill save for slight variations in form and structure.

“The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs with whom we are in partnership, will hereafter outline the additional legislative and other measures that will further buttress women’s political participation interventions,” he said.

He pointed out that the government is committed to implementation of the principle, not only in the pursuit of constitutional compliance, but in the genuine conviction that empowering women is key to the development of the nation.

“I am therefore proud to associate myself with the continued transformative movement to build a sustainable architecture for women’s political participation through the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (Senate Bill No. 16 of 2015) popularly known as the Sijeny Bill coming for debate in the Senate,” he stated.

The law is meant to balance the composition of elective offices in Kenya to ensure there is equity in the government by not allowing one gender to hold more than two-thirds of elective positions.

Source: Capital FM

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