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Women MPs gang up to oppose a contentious gender rule amendment

05 May 2015, 16:13 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – Women legislators both from the Senate and National Assembly have ganged up to oppose a contentious Clause proposed by the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs committee seeking the postponement of the 27th August 2015 constitutional implementation deadline of the two-third gender rule.

The legislators under their Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) and led by their chair, Cecily Mbarire, argued that the proposal by the Justice and legal Affairs committee chair, Samuel Chepkonga to have the two-third gender rule implemented progressively without the constitutional deadline hinders the realization of the gender parity provision.

Mbarire said Chepkonga’s proposal contravenes the Constitution which provides that no members of one gender should constitute more than two-thirds in public offices and vowed to marshal their counterpart male MPs in the House to oppose the contentious Clause.  

“As women leaders, we will not accept or support this amendment Bill and we are calling for its immediate withdrawal for further consultations on actualizing the two-third gender rule. We cannot wait another few years to achieve parity in decision-making bodies that shape our policies,” said Mbarire.

Read Also: Is it more expensive to be a woman?

The Justice and Legal Affairs committee vice chair, Priscillah Nyokabi also present at the KEWOPA press conference claimed that Chepkonga did not inform or consult the committee members but instead sneaked the controversial Clause in the Bill personally.

“During our Mombasa retreat, we had about 10 proposed amendments to the Bill and our chairman’s-introduced Article 81 (b) on progressive implementation of the gender rule was not part of the proposals. The Clause is not the committee’s position but Chepkonga's,” said Nyokabi.

Homa Bay County MP, Gladys Wanga raised concern that male MPs are afraid of women being in leadership and warned that they will not relent in the fight against marginalization and discrimination of Kenyan women.

“Are our counterparts afraid of the strength of a woman? They should adhere to the Supreme Court's ruling of immediate implementation of the gender rule and let women work because we are all equal in serving the society and our efforts should not be derailed,” said Wanga.

ODM nominated Senator, Agnes Zani asked male legislators to embrace women in leadership positions particularly after the hardly fought for gender rule after 50 years of independence.

Wajir County MP, Fatuma Ibrahim who was among other 12 MPs asked President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto together with opposition principals to rein on male MPs to ensure the controversial discriminative gender rule Clause does not see the light of the day when debated in the House.

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