Po­lit­i­cal will cru­cial in gen­der equity quest

Business Daily (Kenya) - - IDEAS & DEBATE -

The de­bate about gen­der equity is not new in Kenya and ef­forts at pass­ing the two thirds law have been on for a while. In the spirit of Ar­ti­cle 81, the gov­ern­ment is re­quired to de­velop poli­cies and laws to en­sure that, not more than twothirds of elec­tive or ap­pointive bod­ies shall be of the same sex.

Ar­ti­cle 81(b) of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Kenya 2010 which re­quires that “not more than two-thirds” of the mem­bers of elec­tive and ap­pointive pub­lic bod­ies shall be of the same gen­der. Much of the de­bate has cen­tered on the modal­i­ties of im­ple­ment­ing this pro­vi­sion.

It’s must be clear, peo­ple are not op­posed to af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion, nor em­brac­ing gen­der; but are op­posed to the in­sin­cer­ity from the po­lit­i­cal class and ex­ec­u­tive es­pe­cially on the ap­pointive posts so far. As we wait for the next round of bring­ing the Bill to Par­lia­ment, we must ask why the po­lit­i­cal par­ties failed to ob­serve the two thirds re­quire­ment dur­ing party nom­i­na­tions, and the ex­ec­u­tive has not re­spected this dur­ing ex­ec­u­tive ap­point­ments as a show of com­mit­ment.

Rwanda and Ethiopia has so far done this with­out too much fo­cus on the le­gal regime. We should pri­or­i­ties ex­ist­ing po­si­tions in pub­lic agen­cies and in­de­pen­dent con­sti­tu­tional of­fices, as we put to task po­lit­i­cal par­ties on why they have failed to ob­serve this re­quire­ment.

In fact, Kenya has a bad track record in re­spect­ing laws where there is no po­lit­i­cal good will- see the Ant Gen­i­tal Mu­ti­la­tion Act, the Po­lit­i­cal Opin­ion Polls Act and other Acts- with­out good will, even pass­ing the two thirds gen­der law will not hap­pen. Re­mem­ber the af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion ex­tended to the youth, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, pro­fes­sional groups and marginal­ized groups, and with­out the po­lit­i­cal will, it will never be fully im­ple­mented.

How­ever in my view, the con­sti­tu­tional gen­der pro­vi­sions are only a start­ing point in de­vel­op­ing poli­cies and laws, in­clud­ing af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion pro­grams to ad­dress the past dis­crim­i­na­tion against some groups.

What is more needed is the po­lit­i­cal will to en­sure that the spirit and in­tent of the gen­der pro­vi­sions are re­al­ized in the dayto-day lives of the Kenyan peo­ple. While law is good, think­ing and in­vest­ing too much in pass­ing the law alone is not go­ing to cure the prob­lem. Just look at the many laws that we have en­acted that are never fol­lowed. What has been our record in re­spect­ing Ar­ti­cle 18 in ap­pointive po­si­tions so far, and why have po­lit­i­cal par­ties failed in re­spect­ing this pro­vi­sion? And what have been the sanc­tions of vi­o­lat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion?

Pre­vi­ous at­tempts at the is­sue in­clude Hon Sa­muel Chep­konga Bill, the Hon Ce­cily Mbarire Bill, Hon Soipan Bill, and the Hon Neto Bill, Hon Chep­konga Bills and now the Hon Duale Bill. Both have flopped, be­cause the ap­proach and per­sua­sion has not been con­vinc­ing. The ar­gu­ments and pre­sen­ta­tion of the is­sue must change and other tac­tics em­ployed in­clud­ing con­vinc­ing the ex­ec­u­tive to show com­mit­ment by re­spect­ing the re­quire­ment in ap­pointive po­si­tions as we works to­wards achiev­ing the same through elec­tive po­si­tions.

We must change ap­proach to the pre­sen­ta­tion of the is­sue, and in­clude other marginal­ized groups in the dis­cus­sion, and more im­por­tantly, ob­serve gen­der con­sid­er­a­tions in other ex­ec­u­tive ap­point­ments and job se­lec­tion in pub­lic of­fices es­pe­cially in de­ci­sion mak­ing po­si­tions.

The two thirds gen­der law should not be seen as a women’s is­sue as cur­rently pre­sented, as this gives an im­pres­sion that in ad­di­tion to the woman rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ post, we still need more po­si­tions for women.

Vic­tor Bwire,

-FILE

LEG­IS­LA­TION The Na­tional Assem­bly in ses­sion.

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