Parliamentary lobby demands fulfilment of all gender pledges

President William Ruto.

President William Ruto. He has been accused of reneging on his gender promises.

Photo credit: Simon Maina | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kewopa chairperson Wamuchomba lamented that President Ruto has reneged on his pledges after signing the Women’s Charter ahead of the August General Election.
  • Addressing a stakeholder forum in Nairobi on the two thirds gender rule, the Githunguri lawmaker, also took issue with the appointment of male MPs to chair the nine parliamentary committees.

Kenyan women say they have had more than enough gender equality promises and now demand action. Those elected or nominated as members of the county assemblies, National Assembly and the Senate want to see pledges converted into action to ensure gender balance in all arms of government.

According to Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba, who doubles as the chairperson of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa), it is now time to give women what they deserve in leadership and key decision-making positions.

“We are no longer interested in tokenism as was the case in the past. We demand to be given leadership positions by right and under the two-thirds gender rule clause in the 2010 Constitution,” she said.

Charter

She lamented that President William Ruto has reneged on his pledges after signing the Women’s Charter ahead of the August General Election and promising to give women 50 per cent of slots in his Cabinet. Of the 21 Cabinet Secretaries, only seven are women.

Addressing a stakeholder forum at a Nairobi hotel on the two thirds gender rule, the Githunguri lawmaker, who made history as the first woman to be elected MP in the constituency, also took issue with the appointment of male MPs to chair the nine parliamentary committees.

Ms Muchomba, however, thanked Kenyans for electing seven women governors, three senators, 29 MPs and 115 MCAs. She expressed optimism that more women would be considered for other senior posts by the Kenya Kwanza administration as diplomats and heads of state corporations.

Funding and empowerment

For her part, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, who is serving her second term, reminded fellow women that funds are not the only way to win elective seats. “Money is not everything in politics; yes, it is important, but you must know your niche and what your community needs. As women leaders, we must work as a team and focus on one item at a time.”

The women leaders also shared the challenges they faced during party nominations, campaigns and even after some were elected. Those present included women representatives Catherine Omanyo (Busia), Fatuma Zainab Mohamed (Migori), Ruth Odinga (Kisumu), Gertrude Mbeyo (Kilifi), Udgoon Siyad (Garissa) and Joyce Osogo, aka Bensouda (Homa Bay).

Ms Siyad thanked NGOs for supporting her. “I was dismissed by my critics as a divorcee, single mother and other sexual stereotypes to block me from contesting, but I was helped, inspired and empowered by some of the NGOs like Uraia that held my hand and helped me soldier on,” she said.

Others who spoke were MPs Irene Mayaka (representing the visually impaired), Phillis Bartoo (Moiben), Beatrice Elachi (Dagoretti North). Ms Elachi, who was only woman elected in Nairobi, requested donors, such as UN Women, to change their strategy on women empowerment by focusing on those at the grassroots, not hotel meetings. She also urged fellow women MPs to work together saying: “We have too many wrangles and small cells among us.”

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