Wahome warns of crisis if gender rule not met in August poll

Kandara MP Alice Wahome makes her remarks during the Kenya County Assembly Women Caucus Dialogue forum at the Panafric Hotel on October 1, 2020. The forum was held under the theme of 'Women's political participation in Kenya'.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • She said gender equality and the place of women in leadership and governance must be honoured.
  • Ms Wahome said political parties must be compelled to comply with the IEBC regulations, the Political Parties Act and the Constitution in respect of the two-third gender principle at all electoral units.

Kandara MP Alice Wahome has cautioned that a governance crisis looms if the gender rule requirement is not met at the August 9 General Election.

Speaking to the press in her constituency on Tuesday, Ms Wahome termed it highly likely that a male presidential candidate elected on a joint ticket with a male deputy will be dismissed by the courts to have been elected unconstitutionally.  

"The 2022 General Election is a pivotal moment for realising gender parity in the electoral system. Sadly, the country is moving towards the election without achieving the provisions of the two-third rule.

“If the country goes into the election without clarity on this provision, there is a good chance the next presidency and Parliament will also be declared unconstitutional. The time to fix this issue is now," she said, calling for gender proportionality in the election.

 "All presidential and gubernatorial candidates must adhere to this gender parity principle, for example, adopting the Zebra approach."

Compliance

She said gender equality and the place of women in leadership and governance must be honoured by all political formations.

"The Constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, but data show that women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making, and that achieving gender parity in politics is yet to be achieved."

The vocal lawmaker, who is also a lawyer, urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Registrar of Political Parties to enforce the constitutional provision that all appointed and elected institutions should be represented by not more than two thirds of either gender.

 She said streamlining the legal framework governing gender equality will be critical to this endeavour.

"Political parties are at the centre of facilitating the entry and ensuring the meaningful inclusion of women in electoral politics. Unfortunately, parties are only paying lip service to women and gender equality. In fact, they have specialised in tokenism to meet minimum legal requirements," she said.

Women suffer more

Ms Wahome said political parties must be compelled to comply with the IEBC regulations, the Political Parties Act and the Constitution in respect of the two-third gender principle at all levels of the electoral units.

"Since the Constitution provides for the gender equality principle, the IEBC and Registrar of Political Parties must ensure intra-party structures and processes meet gender equity. They must also ensure candidate identification, selection and nomination adhere to gender equity requirements and provide an environment conducive to fair primaries," she said.

The legislator said women are disproportionately affected by the high election costs, which, she added, have a direct bearing on gender equality and electoral democracy.

She urged political parties, presidential and gubernatorial aspirants not to dare the courts regarding the two-third gender rule.

 She said the Judiciary rates at A minus in standing its ground against injustice, especially that emanating from the Executive and Parliament.

 "I rate it so for standing firm and steadfast in defending our progressive Constitution and protecting the people of Kenya against the tyranny of a rogue impunity-ridden executive," she said.

Thumbs up to courts

 She praised the Judiciary for being an outstanding participant in the democratic state transformation.

 "I join other Kenyans in urging the Judiciary to continue and sustain the momentum of implementing and enforcing the progressive values and principles of the 2010 Constitution, which include pushing for gender parity legal dictations," she said.

 Ms Wahome said the country being at a pivotal moment, the Judiciary must exercise its authority derived from the people to remain the last bastion of defending constitutionalism, the rule of law and democracy.

"The Chief Justice must play true to knowledge that just like how gender equity is a big issue at the Judiciary, she must demonstrate unwavering courage and firm leadership in ensuring the country plays true to the two-third gender rule in all opportunities up for grabs," she said, urging CJ Koome to jealously defend the independence of the Judicature and deter any form of infringement on judicial mandate.

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