What you need to know:
- This came two days after the High Court suspended a decision by the IEBC to compel political parties to comply with the two-thirds gender principle in their nominations.
- They expressed their disappointment at the suspension and commended the IEBC and Registrar of Political Parties for their insistence on compliance.
The Women Mediators Network Kenya in conjunction with the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and women aspirants under the Democracy Trust Fund on Friday lashed out at political parties for failing to include at least one third of women in their lists of nominees.
This came two days after the High Court suspended a decision by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to compel political parties to comply with the two-thirds gender principle in their nominations.
They expressed their disappointment at the suspension and commended IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati and Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu for their insistence on compliance with the constitutional provisions in respect of gender representation.
“While we shall respect the orders of the court with respect to this matter, we, nonetheless, stand with the chairman of the IEBC, Wafula Chebukati, that such non-compliant political parties should have been disqualified from participating in the general election,” said Dr Jennifer Riria, the chairperson of AWLN, during an event at Echo Network Africa offices in Nairobi.
Dr Riria said they were saddened by the lack of respect for gender representation in party lists. She noted that such disregard was one way of disadvantaging women aspirants, many of whom have been thrown under the bus.
Siasa Place director Nelima Wako dismissed promises that were made by the political parties as "cheap lip service".
“We find it rather unfortunate that our political parties, which are the core of political processes, would fail to adhere to the Constitution in such a blatant manner just so that they exclude women. This is a serious indictment of our maturity as a democracy,” she said.
Dr Riria pledged their continued support for women who made it to the IEBC list as candidates flying political parties’ flags and as independents. This, she said, would help increase the number of women in elective positions.
Further, she commended parties that have nominated women to run for non-affirmative elective seats in their support bases. She praised governor aspirants from Murang’a, Nyeri, Nandi and Kwale who have selected women as their running mates and urged more gubernatorial aspirants to follow suit.
Veteran politician Zipporah Kittony encouraged women aspirants to fight for their rightful positions despite the challenges. She was responding to reports of targeted violence against women. She demanded that adequate security be provided for such aspirants and called on Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to move with speed to arrest and charge perpetrators.
Dr Riria reiterated that the safety of aspirants, votes and Kenya is non-negotiable.
“This is the least we can do to communicate that such impunity is totally unacceptable and no perpetrator should get away unpunished according to the law,” she said.
“I urge all women who may experience violence to speak and reach out for help and not get discouraged to the point of despair. They should also report all incidents to the police as soon as they happen so that perpetrators do not go unpunished.”
The leaders promised to monitor political activities and actors and hold accountable institutions charged with the responsibility of ensuring peaceful elections.
“We shall be seeking official accreditation to observe elections and continue tracking all institutions for their gender inclusiveness and adherence to and respect for the rule of law. We have faith in our institutions and we trust that this country will transition peacefully come August 9,” said Dr Riria.
“We wish to tell all duty bearers that this time round, women are watching and will not keep quiet in the face of violations. We reiterate our position that credible and peaceful elections will not only validate Kenya’s democratic reputation but also serve as testimony to the world that Kenya has truly come of age.”
They also said they will have regular briefings to ensure the voices of women constantly feature in politics. Kenyans were also asked to maintain peace.
Presidential candidates yet to name their running mates before the deadline elapses on May 16 were also urged to pick women because “this is smart politics whose time has come”.
The leaders further commended President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointing a number of women envoys, including a member of WMN, Amina Abdalla.