The two-thirds gender rule remains a nightmare. The Constitution, at Articles 26(6), 27(8) and 81(b), highlights the principle of equality, aiming to reduce gender imbalance in leadership positions. It hence provides that no more than two-thirds of the members in any elective or appointive positions such shall be of the same gender.
Senior government positions are occupied predominantly men, defining Kenya as a chauvinistic society. In the 2017 General Election, with the exclusion of the presidency, there were 1,881 other elective positions. Out of these, women managed to garner only 170 elective positions. This represents only a tenth of the total positions, which shows how far the country is from achieving the gender rule.
Out of 349 Members of the National Assembly, there are 23 elected women while six are nominated. This number, added to the 47 county woman representatives, totals to 76. But that is still 41 short of the one-third constitutional threshold.
The county assemblies are a replica of the National Assembly. They are far from achieving the gender rule with only 96 elected female MCAs out of 1,450 wards.
Taking West Pokot County Assembly as a case study, the electorate has shown complete defiance of the Constitution (as far as the two-thirds gender rule is concerned) by not electing a single female MCA in the 20 wards.
There are only two female governors out of 47.
At the Cabinet level, where the President is the sole appointing authority, the rule has been ignored. There are six women Cabinet secretaries out of 21, one short of the required number.
The situation directly affects women adversely since their opinions are not heard in the corridors of power and included in the day-to-day running of the government.
As the saying goes, what a man can do, a woman can do better. We have come a long way with the fight against gender discrimination. Back in 1911, only eight countries allowed women to vote but now we have world leaders who are women.
The government should enact the two-thirds gender rule to create more space for women in leadership positions. In the same spirit, Kenyans should vote more women into elective positions, as the Constitution requires, during the August 9 general election. Presidential and gubernatorial aspirants should be compelled de jure to choose deputies of the opposite gender.
According to 2019 census data, there are 500,000 more women than men. Women should, therefore, exploit their large numbers to fulfil their constitutional right by electing their fellow women to leadership positions.
Women leaders have a role to play in achieving this goal. Let them stand in solidarity with upcoming female leaders through capacity building missions.
Diana Nekesa, Kisumu