What two-thirds? We are going for 50-50, declare women leaders

Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and other Embrace team members during a press conference in Nairobi on November 19, 2019.

Photo credit: Kanyiri Wahito | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • According to Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, the leaders are safeguarding the gains made by women in the BBI report, which President Kenyatta launched on November 27, 2019.

A section of women leaders have stepped up the campaign to ensure provisions on gender equality are implemented under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional reforms. 

The leaders, who back President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga’s handshake, said they would not relent in the push for 50-50 gender representation in government positions.

As the country awaits the final report of BBI to be handed over to the two leaders, the women leaders led by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, have been meeting various party leaders to champion their interests, the latest being Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi.

The group in May met Mr Odinga and, two weeks ago, held talks with Central Organisation Trade Union boss Francis Atwoli and Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe.

Sources said they plan to meet more party leaders including Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Amani National Congress (ANC) Musalia Mudavadi.

The Nation has established that the group is also positioning itself to lead the BBI campaigns after the final report is unveiled in preparation for possible constitutional review.

Gender representation

Those who spoke with the Nation on Monday have maintained their firm stand for 50-50 gender representation in government positions. According to Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, the leaders are safeguarding the gains made by women in the BBI report, which President Kenyatta launched on November 27, 2019.

“We are lobbying for the inclusion of women’s issues in the BBI agenda, we want to attain the two-third gender rule, we are still looking for 50-50 of both gender in the Senate and the National Assembly,” said Ms Wanga.

“As women leaders of this country, we would like to ensure that the gains we made in the BBI report are not eliminated. We are just hoping that as the BBI goes to the last stretch, women’s issues are included,” she added.

The second time ODM legislator noted that there is an urgent need to do more if the country hopes to achieve gender inclusion in government institutions.

More women should be involved in policy making, she added, and urged women to show interest in national politics through platforms for public participation.

"BBI should also be about gender bridges... women leaders are seeking male allies and champions... Baba, Atwoli, Gideon... and we have plans to see more leaders," disclosed one of the members of the group.  Ms Waiguru said the group’s meetings with various leaders discussed the implementation through budgetary allocation and prioritisation of Article 43 that focuses on economic and social rights to food, water, health education, housing and social security.

Social security

"The women leaders are seeking a seat at the decision-making table to pursue Article 43 Rights of health, water, food security, education, housing and social security. Women particularly want BBI to resolve health issues as women and families are suffering with weak health systems," the governor told a media briefing at Kabarak, where the group met Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

Those who attended the meeting included: MPs Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West), Maison Leshomo (Samburu Woman Rep), Fatuma Gedi (Wajir Woman Rep), Gathoni Wamuchomba (Kiambu Woman Rep), Gladwell Cheruiyot (Baringo Woman Rep) and Mishi Mboko (Likoni).

Others were Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu, former Nyeri Woman Rep Priscilla Nyokabi and former Nairobi Speaker Beatrice Elachi.

Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat said the meeting explored how women leaders would play a critical role in promoting the BBI: "The role of women in politics will never be the same again. There are those things which were included in the 2010 Constitution and if we cannot actualise them now then we need to do so through BBI."

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei also supported the women’s agenda:  “Women’s rights are also rights, what a man can do, a woman can do better, that is where the support is,” he said, supporting the advice by the Chief Justice to have Parliament dissolved.