What you need to know:
- Of the 22 Cabinet secretaries appointed by President William Ruto, only seven are women.
- In a list of 51 Principal Secretary nominees sent to the National Assembly for vetting, only 11 are women.
Rights organisations want all public appointments made by the new government rescinded for failing to meet the two-thirds gender rule.
They say the appointments to the Cabinet, principal secretary positions and the National Police Service are in blatant violation of the Constitution as they do not meet the constitutional threshold for gender, youth and people living with disability. They want new names submitted to the National Assembly for vetting and approval.
Of the 22 Cabinet secretaries appointed by President William Ruto, only seven are women. They are Aisha Jumwa (Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action), Alice Wahome (Water, Sanitation and Irrigation), Rebecca Miano (East African Community), Soipan Tuya (Environment and Forestry), Peninah Malonza (Tourism and Wildlife), Florence Bore (Labour) and Susan Wafula (Health).
Dr Ruto also appointed Monica Juma as the National Security adviser, Mercy Wanjau as the secretary to the Cabinet and Harriet Chiggai as the Women’s Rights Agency adviser.
In a list of 51 Principal Secretary nominees sent to the National Assembly for vetting, only 11 are women, raising more eyebrows over its gender composition. There has also been an uproar over recent senior appointments made by the National Police Service (NPS) for lack of gender balance.
President Ruto nominated Japheth Koome as the new Inspector General of Police (IG) to take over from Hillary Mutyambai, with Amin Mohamed being named the new boss at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to replace George Kinoti.
The rights organisations are now up in arms over the appointments and want the President to keep his promise to the women and implement the gender rule. In a joint statement, they said the President committed to the nation and women that he would ensure gender parity in his appointments.
“We note the recent nominations by the President for Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries are blatant violations of the provisions in Articles 2,3,10 and 27 of the Constitution. We are troubled that in the nascent days of the administration, these decisions set a worrying precedent for both the national and county governments,” reads the statement.
The groups have also registered their concerns about Parliament’s move to vet and approve Cabinet nominees that failed to meet the constitutional one-third gender rule as guided by the court decision of 2015 that the Cabinet is the entire set of positions inclusive of President, Deputy President, and Attorney General.
“This also goes against the 50:50 promise by the President to the women of Kenya. We are equally concerned about the ongoing elections to the position of chairperson and vice chairpersons of departmental committees in both the Senate and the National Assembly. We regrettably note that women are not being elected to these positions, despite expressing interest,” reads the statement.
The groups want the Kenya Kwanza government to fully implement the women's charter signed on June 10, 2022. In the charter, the President committed to establishing the Hustler Healthcare programme where every woman would be insured by the National Health Insurance Fund, boost the enrolment of women in learning institutions, provide free sanitary pads, and implement a return-to-school plan for teenage mothers, among other promises.
The rights groups want the National Assembly to fast-track a legislative framework on two-thirds gender rule.
The organisations that have signed the joint press statement include the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (Creaw Kenya), the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-Kenya), Amnesty International-Kenya and the Institute of Social Accountability (Tisa).
The others are the Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust (Crawn Trust), Deliver for Good Campaign Kenya, Binti Uongozini, Akili Dada, Women Empowerment Link and Kenya Female Advisory Organisation (Kefeado).
The government already faces a lawsuit challenging the recent public appointments. A human rights defender last week filed a petition claiming the President made skewed nominations for the 51 PS positions, without considering the ethnic and gender balance.
Benjamin Magare Gikanye, a consultant trauma and general surgeon based in Nakuru, says the list is illegal, lacks inclusivity and falls short of the two-thirds gender rule.
The medic wants the court to suspend the announcement and restrain the National Assembly from vetting the nominees pending the hearing and determination of the case, which was filed through a certificate of urgency.