Sh74 per Kenyan per year: The cost of having 55 additional women MPs

Kenya National Association of Social Workers representative George Kombe, Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa (centre) and two-thirds gender principle taskforce co-chair Daisy Amdany during the report handover by the taskforce at Kenya National Library Service in Nairobi, on February, 23, 2024.

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Increased inclusion of women in elective or political leadership is not a favour but a right enshrined in the Constitution.
  • If Parliament passes the gender taskforce recommendations, each Kenyan would pay Sh74 annually for the expenses incurred by 55 additional legislators and their support staff. 

How will the two-thirds gender principle be implemented without overburdening Kenyans with additional taxes?

This was the main concern raised by the Federation of Kenya Employers before the National Dialogue Committee.

The lobby proposed that any cost implication of implementing the constitutional requirement be funded from the Consolidated Fund into which is "paid all money raised or received by or on behalf of the national government".

But how costly is it to have more women in Parliament?

First of all, increased inclusion of women in elective or political leadership is not a favour but a right under the Constitution just like every Kenyan has a right to quality healthcare, water and education.

Article 27(8) of the Constitution, as well as Articles 81(b) and 100, is explicit on this right. Article 27(8) says: “The State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.”

Article 81(b) provides that the electoral system shall comply with the principle that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.” 

Article 100 outlines that “Parliament shall enact legislation to promote the representation in Parliament of women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalised communities.”

This year, Kenya will be celebrating the 14th anniversary of the Constitution, yet there is no law to solidify that requirement in the country’s electoral process.

However, in August last year, the government, through Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa, established a 23-member multi-sector taskforce to provide a workable framework for the implementation of the principle.

Last week, CS Jumwa received a report from the committee, marking the end of its six-month operational term. Its solution to the struggle for fair representation in Parliament is anchored on a top-up mechanism.

To achieve this in the National Assembly, they recommend amendment to Article 97(1) to provide that “the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the National Assembly are of the same gender.”

For the Senate, they offer a change to Article 98(1), to give a similar stipulation.

These changes could translate into 53 more women nominated to the current National Assembly and two to the Senate to meet the threshold.

Is this heavy a burden for Kenyans to bear?

“No!” That was the emphatic answer from Daisy Amdany, the co-chair of the multi-sector working group.

The numbers

She broke down the numbers during an editors’ breakfast meeting convened by African Woman and Child Feature Service in Nairobi on March 5, 2024.

Annually, each Kenyan would pay Sh74 to cover for the salaries of the 55 additional legislators and their support staff. 

Cumulatively, it amounts to an annual cost of Sh3.8 billion, a sum that can be covered by one day’s collection of revenue.

“In the 2023/24 financial year, the government collects Sh5.19 billion per day and so the annual amount for the added members of the National Assembly and the Senate is less than a day’s revenue collection in Kenya,” she said.

She, however, clarified that Kenya would not spend that much if it fulfilled the quota during general elections.

“If one-third of the elected [lawmakers] are women, then we will not have the gender top-ups. The political parties are the key here. If they nominate women in their strongholds, it is a guarantee that they will be elected,” Ms Amdany noted.