The day when the Supreme Court of Kenya made a ruling on the two-third gender requirement for elective positions in both the National Assembly and the Senate will forever remain etched in the minds of Kenyan women for many years to come.
Even though there were telltale signs that the ruling could go either way, what the women did not anticipate was that the Supreme Court would change the constitutional provision which requires that not more two-thirds of either gender should occupy any elective or normative position as anchored in Article 81(b).
Political pacts crafted ahead of the elections have left women aspirants reeling in confusion.
The Constitution notwithstanding, women have been sidelined in key positions in the ‘coalitions’ before the General Election in March. For now, a conscious decision to include women in political parties as required in the Constitution seems to have been overshadowed as big parties like ODM, TNA, URP and UDM among others craft their ‘winning strategies’ in the coalitions that have taken a male face.
Failure by political parties to uphold the gender principle in the nomination of candidates across the board is likely to solidify gender disparities that have been entrenched over the years.
The Constitution notwithstanding, the bid to increase the number of women in political leadership has yet again suffered a devastating blow after women performed dismally at all levels of the primaries with majority choosing instead to take refuge in the 47 seats reserved for Women (County member of the national assembly).
Despite the facts that many women are now coming up to vie for the various leadership positions as expounded by the Constitution of Kenya 2010, things are not any easy for them. They are meeting challenges that under the law are illegal.
Article 27 (1) states “Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law;” However, in many parts of this country culture has been used to frustrate women’s quest for leadership.
Just like land ownership is still largely controlled by a customary system that ensures access is determined by men, so is leadership and the game of power which is seen as belonging to only men.
Kenyan women had little to celebrate about on March 8 when the world celebrated International Women’s Day.
The day was marked quietly as Kenyans came to terms with the results of the March 4 General Elections. The results also served to affirm fear by women that the political arena was yet to embrace their bid for leadership.
None of the hundreds of women who contested the six elective positions were elected to senior posts like President, Senator and Governor.
The few who sailed through were elected to the National Assembly as MPs and or women’s representatives, while the rest were elected country representatives.
The theme of IWD was most appropriate for Kenya, if the voters were to promote it, as the country faced the first polls within the new constitutional dispensation.
It was marked on March 8, right in the middle of the tallying of the presidential at Bomas of Kenya, which had most Kenyans glued to the radio and television screens anxiously waiting for the final outcome.
When the Government shipped off political detainees to the island, it hoped they would be rehabilitated by making them work hard in a strange land where they were linguistically and culturally isolated.
To the local community, the long haired, dirty looking prisoners appeared dangerous and the Government outlawed any form of socialisation to avert political contamination.
Mageta Island was chosen in 1953 as the best spot to lock up 2,000 political prisoners who were agitating for freedom.
Muhoroni looks like a nondescript town, lying on the foot of Nandi Hills.
The greenery is appealing to the eye as you approach this town that lies within the sugar belt. It is an old town and the buildings which tell the story of its age. It has an urban population of 13,664 and a total population of 31,148, according to the 1999 census.
Poverty and insecurity continue to undermine gender equity in Africa.
According to a report compiled by Peace Women Organisation in 2011, women and children comprise 80 per cent of the world’s persons displaced by war and conflict while civilians account for 80 per cent of casualties of small arms.
More often than not, women and children are more likely to endure torture than men, hence the need to uphold development strategies as a way of sustaining women in Africa.
This goal is based on human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.