What you need to know:
- Women rights organisations have petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly seeking intervention in realisation of two-thirds gender principle in Kenya.
- They argue that Kenya has failed to match its international repute on leadership with its failure to make efforts to enforce the provision.
Women rights organisations have petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seeking intervention in realisation of two-thirds gender principle in Kenya.
In their November 19, 2021 plea to the speaker of EALA, African Women’s Development and Communication Network and Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust, say the Legislature and Executive have been non-committal on the matter.
They say EALA’s hand is, therefore, needed to influence the two arms of government to develop a mechanism to execute Article 27(8) of the Constitution (2010) which dictates establishment of legal framework and measures to ensure “no more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies are of the same gender."
“We are, therefore calling for, in the immediate short term, that EALA would organise for an oversight mission to Kenya before the party nomination/ primaries ahead of the 2022 general elections to assess why the enforcement and implementation of the gender principle as mandated in the Kenyan constitution is not complied to date,” they say.
They argue that Kenya has failed to match its international repute on leadership with its failure to make efforts to enforce the provision.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is the current chairperson of the East African Community Heads of State Summit as well as African Union Peace and Security Council .Kenya also sits on the United Nations Security Council representing Africa.
“(But) despite these high-profile representations on the regional, continental and international scene, at home, the Republic of Kenya has failed to deliver on the constitutional imperatives regarding gender and women’s inclusion,” they say.
The push for legislating the two-thirds gender principle has put the government and the civil society at loggerheads owing to the latter failing to honour respective court orders.
In 2012, the Supreme Court gave Parliament till August 27, 2015 to pass a law effecting the principle lest it be dissolved. Parliament extended the period to August 27, 2016. The deadline elapsed and nothing happened.
Later, Centre for Rights Awareness and Education and National Women Steering Committee sued the National Assembly and Senate in the High Court for failing to enact the law. In March 2017, the Court ordered the two houses to pass the gender principle law within 60 days. They defaulted.
The civil society has since then tried to dialogue and apply diplomatic negotiations with the top political leaders with no yield.
In Parliament, three bills have collapsed due to lack of political will.
Two bills - Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Two-Third Gender Rule Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, both by the then Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, chairperson, Samuel Chepkong'a, never saw the light of the day.
A third one, Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No. 4) Bill, 2015 sponsored by the former majority leader Aden Duale, was shelved after four attempts.
The demand for action has also put Mr Kenyatta on the spotlight. Last year, retired Chief Justice David Maraga advised the President to dissolve Parliament having defaulted on its role in the matter. There was no subsequent directive from the President, although the advisory later attracted a barrel of petitions in support and opposition of its implementation.