We’re on our own, Shaban warns women

July 15, 2011 2:54 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – Gender Minister Naomi Shaban has challenged Kenyan women to come up with proposals on women representation that are in conformity with the new Constitution to ensure  smooth passage of the proposals in Parliament as part of the Elections Bill.

While addressing women at a national consultative conference on the constitution at the Multi Media university, Dr Shaban urged them to draft proposals that will not find immediate hitches in the male dominated Parliament.

“You cannot do anything outside this constitution; every law has to be in conformity with it, which man in Parliament will vote to pass a provision that will prevent him from competing merely because the law will has preference for women,” she challenged  alluding to the superiority in numbers of male Members of Parliament.

The two day conference is aimed at coming up with mechanisms that will ensure that the article 27 (8) of the constitution is adhered to.

Article 27(8) requires that the State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two thirds of members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.

Dr Shaban particularly warned against proposals that will be interpreted as going against the provisions of article 97(4) of the constitution.

“Let us not read constitutional provisions in isolation, it must be read as whole,” she asserted saying that some provisions already fronted at the conference were in breach of the constitution.

Some of the proposals that drew heat from the Gender Minister included the rotation of constituencies earmarked for women. Under this proposed mechanism, the listing of al the 290 constituencies alphabetically, dividing them by three.

The third constituency then is to exclusively field female candidates while the second and the first constituencies on the list of three then will field female candidates in subsequent elections respectively.

This mechanism however is challengeable as it restricts voters to one gender.

The other mechanism that was to force political parties to declare their strongholds then political parties are forced to field women in half of the constituencies that make up their stronghold.

She also challenged women to work hard and not to rely on legislation alone as the means to political representation and said: “Nobody will give us these jobs on a silver platter, there is no shortcut to it we have to work. Civic education is very important even as we target women.”

The proposals arrived at will be forwarded to the Interim Independent Elections Commission as it seeks to revise the elections bill was recalled from the Constitutional Implementation Committee.


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