The introduction of two third gender rule in the 2010 constitution of Kenya, was because of under representation of Kenyan women in matters of politics and governance. The goal of the rule was to give voice to women in all sectors of leadership. Currently we have only 16 elected women MNA’s, 5 nominated in the National Assembly and 18 in the Senate, together with 47 women representatives making a sum of 86 women parliamentarians. This brings the total women representation to 21% against 79% for men. Clearly, the two third gender rule is skewed against women. The only way to achieve the two third gender rule, where women representation rises from the current 21% to at least 34% is to encourage more women to fight for the elective seats. This is done by creating a favourable environment by all parties involved. Being nominated should not be the only ticket to parliament for women. One can’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book.
How do we create a favourable environment? First we start at the political party level. Political parties need to encourage women to come out and square it out with their male counterparts. The party leaders in their speeches and actions should encouraging women and other marginalized groups to vie for elective seats. If the leadership is at ease with the idea of more women in leadership positions, it will open doors for more women to come on board. The party should be a strong advocate for peaceful campaigns. Violence usually scares away potential leaders. The party primaries need to be transparent, free and fair. If the party achieve this, we would not only see the rise of women in politics but also the growth of democracy in our country. Unfortunately this is not the case as political parties in Kenya are usually driven by its leader’s personal agenda. The same gender sensitive practices should be done at the county level and also at the national level. If we do this we would not need a law that dictates us to reserve certain number of seats for women. Come to think about it, this law can in a way be said to be against the freedom of choice.
It’s tough, difficult, challenging but not impossible.
What next? In addition to political parties and other players adopting gender sensitive practices, women should come out and start selling their manifestos to the people. Just like most men, they should employ aggressive tactics to ensure they win elective seats. They should not tell the people to vote for them because they are women. They need to show the skills and abilities that they have, which will enable them to do the job even better than their male counterparts. They need to show people why they are the better choice. It’s tough, difficult, challenging but not impossible. History has examples of those who have done it in the past, few are currently doing it and more will do it. Honourable mentions include Charity Ngilu, Martha Karua, Joyce Laboso, deputy speaker (Sotik MP) Rachel Shebesh (Nairobi county Rep), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita MP), Zainab Chidzuga(Kwale county rep), Joyce Emanikor ( Turkana county rep), Ms Mbalu (Kibwezi East MP) among others. These are strong women. They have not only survive but thrive in a tough environment. They should be inspiration to women and girls. After all, what a man can do women can do better.