How women leaders performed in 12th Parliament

ODM-nominated Senator Agnes Zani comments on a bill she tabled before the Senate on revenue allocation between the counties and the national government, on April 26, 2019.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Parliament had female MPs chair some very powerful committees.
  • Currently, the National Assembly has 76 women MPs.
  • Of the number, 47 represent the counties, 23 represent constituencies, as six are nominated to represent special interest groups.

A 2022 Parliamentary Scorecard by Mzalendo Trust shows how women MPs performed in Parliament in the last five years.

The 12th Parliament that currently stand adjourned indefinitely (sine die), has been billed as one of the most gender-inclusive since Independence 59 years ago.

The Mzalendo report shows that women lawmakers sponsored 39 Bills out of the 499 transacted in the two Houses. The scorecard also shows only 18 women MPs from the two Houses sponsored bills during the life of the 12th Parliament.

Currently, the National Assembly has 76 women MPs, of whom 47 are representing the counties, 23 represent constituencies, while six are nominated to represent special interest groups.

Some of the Bills that were sponsored by women MPs include the Higher Education Loans Board (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Ruweida Mohamed (Lamu); the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Florence Mutua (Busia); the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, 2019, by Millie Odhiambo (Suba North); and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Geriatric Bill, 2021, by Gathoni Wamuchomba (Kiambu).

Turkana Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor sponsored the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and Gilgil MP Martha Wangari came up with the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2019.

Other Bills fronted by women include the Health (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Radiographers Bill, 2019, the Birth and Death Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill, 2019, and the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service Bill, 2020.

Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda sponsored the Public Service Internship Bill, 2021, while Gladys Wanga sponsored the Cancer Prevention and Control (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Children (No.2) Bill, 2021, was sponsored by Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo, while the Whistle-blower Protection Bill, 2021, was by Irene Kasalu (Kitui).

House leadership

The 12th Parliament broke the record of having women MPs chairing some of the most powerful committees. Those heading committees include Murang’a’s Sabina Chege (Health), Ms Wanga (Finance and National Planning) and Ms Mutua (Education and Research and Rachel Nyamai (Lands).

Roselinda Soipan (Narok), was also named the first woman chairperson of the speaker’s panel, while Jessica Mbalu was named third.

Dennitah Ghati, a nominated MP representing people living with disabilities, was nominated as regional champion for Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities Network on November 30, 2020.

The Senate, on the other hand, has 20 women senators, of whom only four were directly elected. The four are Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo), Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Anne Kavindu (Machakos).

According to the scorecard, nominated Senator Agnes Zani tops the list, having sponsored eight bills, including the Election Laws (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2018; the County Tourism Bill, 2019; the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The others are the Community Health Services Bill, 2020; the National Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the Natural Resources (Benefits Sharing) Bill (Senate Bill No. 25 of 2020).

Senators Alice Milgo, Petronila Were, Beatrice Kwamboka, Judith Pareno and Farhiya Haji have also sponsored two bills each.

The bills include the National Museums and Heritage (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Investment Promotion (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the Commission of Administrative Justice (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Office of the County Printer Bill, 2021; the Care and Protection of Child Parents Bill, 2019; the Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the Petition to County Assemblies (Procedure) Bill, 2018; the National Cohesion, the Peace Building Bill, 2018; the County Statistics Bill, 2018; and the Prompt Payment Bill (Senate Bill No. 16 of 2021.

Senators Dullo, Naomi Waqo and Abshiro Halake also sponsored one bill each, including the Treaty Making and Ratification (Amendment) Bill, 2018; the Prevention of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2018; and the Preservation of Human Dignity and Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights Bill, 2018.

Gertrude Musuruve, Mary Seneta, Sylvia Kasanga and Mercy Chembeni also came up with a bill each, among them the Kenyan Sign Language Bill, 2021, the Control of Stray Dogs Bill, 2019; the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2018; the Alternative Dispute Resolution Bill, 2019; the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the County Licensing (Uniform Procedures) Bill, 2020.

Prof Kamar (who was elected deputy speaker), Judith Pareno and Rose Nyamunga served on the Senate Speaker’s panel. Ms Kihika was also elected as president of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians (IPU) during the 139th Assembly.

The second bicameral Parliament since the enactment of the 2010 Constitution has had a mixed legacy of a high-level legislative performance clouded, at times, by failure to defend the common man as anticipated by the Constitution.