What you need to know:
- In Parliament, women MPs Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita) and Uasin Gishu's Gladys Shollei are the most vocal supporters of Justice Maraga's advisory.
- Kanu Women Congress has faulted the advisory by Justice Maraga terming it as misguided and uncalled for.
- The COWA has been pushing for the full implementation of the two-thirds gender rule through the BBI initiative.
- Majority of nominated women MPs, beneficiaries of efforts to ensure gender parity, are not keen on having the House dissolved.
Chief Justice David Maraga’s advisory to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament over its failure to implement the two-thirds gender rule as stated in the Constitution was expected to unite women who would overwhelmingly support the move.
But this was not the case. The directive seems to have divided women in the country.
While women leaders have in the past led aggressive campaigns for the enactment of the elusive two-thirds gender rule, they are now in a dilemma on whether to support or oppose the advisory.
In Parliament, women MPs Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita) and Uasin Gishu's Gladys Shollei are the most vocal supporters of Justice Maraga's advisory.
Ms Wanga said she supports it since 10 years after the promulgation of the Constitution, the two-thirds gender rule is the only provision that remains unimplemented.
Ms Odhiambo said even though some people have been calling her urging her not to support the advisory, she is ready to go home since it is not about her but about women.
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) chairperson Gathoni Wamuchomba said the State had ample time to implement the gender rule adding that lack of political goodwill is behind the failure to its implementation.
However, Kanu Women Congress has faulted the advisory by Justice Maraga terming it as misguided and uncalled for.
The congress, led by chairperson Elizabeth Kimkung, lashed out at the CJ saying the advisory to dissolve Parliament was unnecessary.
The women threw their weight behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which they said was best suited to deal with the gender rule debacle.
“Dissolving of Parliament is not necessary. What Parliament should do is to support the BBI process so that we can cure this problem that is in the Constitution. They should adopt what is in the BBI,” said Dr Juliet Kimemia, a member of the congress.
The Common Women Agenda (COWA), a group under the leadership of Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia, has been pushing for the full implementation of the two-thirds gender rule through the BBI initiative.
Other recommendations that COWA made to the BBI taskforce include implementation through budgetary allocation and prioritisation of Article 43, touching on rights of economic and social rights of food, water, health education, housing and social security.
COWA is also rooting for the Propositional Representation Electoral System and ensuring it has protective ratios and formulas for women, youth and Persons with Disability (PWDs).
Sexual abuse cases
They also want application of the opposite gender rule in the devolved government and county assembly as well as entrenching protection for women and girls against sexual and gender based violence and denial of bail in child sexual abuse cases.
Majority of nominated women MPs, who are actually the beneficiaries of efforts to ensure gender parity in Parliament, are not keen on having the House dissolved.
Nominated senator Jennifer Shamalla said while she was not satisfied with the gender parity, it was not practical for the President to dissolve Parliament.
“Why did the CJ give the advisory while there is a matter before the court and yet to be decided upon? It would have been courteous for the CJ to tell the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee what he intended to do,” Ms Shamalla argued.
Nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanga fully concurred with the Chief Justice’s logic towards attending to gender rule, but said the legislative arm of government should not be the only one required to institutionalise such a law.
“In certainty, the Senate of Kenya is fairly in compliance with Article 98 of the Constitution, with a deficit of only one woman. However, it remains to be examined at what proportions the judicial and executive arms of government have addressed this rule. Truth be told, these other arms of government are where most opportunities in the public office lie,” Ms Kasanga wrote on her Facebook page.
She proposed that the radical approach would be to ensure all sectors, including counties as well as the private sector, practically comply with the gender rule.