What you need to know:
- As of April 20, 2023 women MPs had sponsored 20 out of 65 Bills tabled since the beginning of the 13th Parliament in September last year.
- In the National Assembly, Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei leads with five Bills.
- In the Senate, Crystal Kegehi Asige, representing persons living with disability, leads with four Bills to her name.
Female lawmakers have sponsored about a third of the Bills tabled in the Senate and the National Assembly in the past seven months.
As of April 20, they had sponsored 20 out of 65 Bills tabled since the beginning of the 13th Parliament in September last year. Eleven Bills have been tabled in the National Assembly and nine in the Senate.
In the National Assembly, Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei leads with five Bills. Her Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2022, seeks to end the secrecy surrounding coalition agreements by compelling the Registrar of Political Parties to deposit them with the clerks of Parliament.
Ms Shollei argues that such information will be useful for deciding entitlement, especially those based on the numerical strength of the political coalitions. Her second bill, Parliamentary Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill, 2022, seeks to allow the Speaker of Parliament to designate a member to chair the Committee of Power and Privileges in his absence in line with the resolutions made by the 12th Parliament.
The others are Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Petitions to Parliament (Procedure) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and Statutory Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2022. They all seek to implement the resolutions made by the 12th Parliament on amendments to the Standing Orders – rules guiding the House.
In the Senate, ODM-nominated Crystal Kegehi Asige, who is representing persons living with disability, leads with four Bills to her name. Ms Asige has sponsored the Start-up Bill, the Learners with Disabilities Bill, the Persons with Disabilities Bill, and the Kenyan Sign Language Bill.
The Start-up Bill proposes incubation programmes with an aim of promoting innovation. It seeks to facilitate the transfer of technology, create and develop a sustainable, globally competitive small and medium enterprise sector that contributes to accelerated growth of the economy. The Bill also proposes the establishment of the registrar of start-ups and national innovation agency.
The Learners with Disabilities Bill, sponsored alongside nominated Senator Margaret Kamar, is aimed at providing a legal framework for the actualisation of the right to basic education for learners with disabilities at the three levels of education.
“The Bill creates provisions of law that obligate the National Government through the Ministry of Education and the county governments to carry out their duties in bringing the special needs education of learners with disabilities to parity with normal learners and to end the exclusion of learners with disability from the education cycle,” says Ms Asige.
“The recent National Gender and Equality Commission report on access to basic education by children with disability shows widespread exclusion of children with disabilities from education, despite the provisions of the Constitution and international protocols and local policies. Such exclusion from education further perpetuates the cycle of poverty and disability.”
The duo has also sponsored the Kenyan Sign Language Bill, which seeks to enforce sign language in judicial proceedings, schools and public institutions to ensure deaf learners get the same opportunities as all other learners, to be productive members of society. Ms Asige’s Persons with Disabilities Bill, among other things, seeks to make it mandatory for national and county governments to construct roads and pathways that are friendly to people living with disability. If passed, it will compel owners of buildings to provide alternative means of accessibility where it is difficult or infeasible to install a ramp or an elevator.
Nominated Senator Mariam Sheikh Omar has two Bills, namely the Prompt Payment Bill and the County Licensing (Uniform Procedure) Bill. The former proposes a legal framework to ensure payment for supply of goods, works and services procured by government entities both at the national and county level are made on time. This could cure the huge burden of pending bills. Data from the Office of the Auditor General and Controller of Budget shows that county governments have yet to settle over Sh131 billion worth of pending bills.
The County Licensing (Uniform Procedure) Bill proposes uniform procedures for licensing business across all the 47 devolved units. “It has become apparent that there are varied procedures in applying for licences in the 47 counties which has had a negative impact on the ease of doing business. This Bill, therefore, proposes to establish uniform procedures for licensing to ensure certainty in the process and ultimately encourage private sector players to do business in the counties.”
The other Bills before the Senate are the Agricultural and Livestock Extension Services Bill sponsored by Maureen Tabitha Mutinda (nominated), the Konza Technopolis Bill by Gloria Orwoba (nominated) and the Cotton Industry Development Bill by Beth Syengo (nominated). Ms Mutinda’s Bill seeks to establish a board to manage extension Services.
“Over the years, agriculture returns have been dwindling because of poor performance of both crops and livestock which can be attributed to climate change, poor production methods, pest and diseases, among others. It is, therefore, prudent to set up a policy and institutional framework to support and guide the activities, operations, and interactions within the industry,” says Ms Mutinda.
In the National Assembly, Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba’s Geriatric Bill, 2022, seeks to protect the dignity of the elderly. Ms Wamuchomba prescribes imprisonment of five years, a fine not exceeding Sh1 million, or both, for any person found guilty of subjecting elderly persons to mental or physical abuse.
Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo Mabona, through her Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, 2022, proposes an assisted reproductive technology directorate that would regulate issues like use embryos, sperms after the death of a man, right to assisted reproductive technology by intersex persons and surrogate motherhood.