CIC seeks legal solution to gender row

August 19, 2011 2:23 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) now says it is drafting two possible solutions to the constitutional dilemma generated over the one-third gender representation requirement.

Speaking at a women’s forum in Nairobi on Friday, CIC Commissioner Catherine Mumma said her team had been looking at ways of ensuring that Kenyans meet the quota without amending the Constitution through a referendum.

She explained that one of the solutions that was being floated was to meet any deficits through direct nominations in the party lists, as provided for under Article 90 of the Constitution.

“We have been toying with the possibility of compelling, within that law, a method that will ensure we get the required quotas in Articles 27(8) and 81(b) for the National Assembly through the party lists as set out in Article 90,” she explained.

Article 90 stipulates that political parties shall present lists of their nominees to the electoral and boundaries commission on the basis of proportional representation.

Ms Mumma added that the CIC had also considered changing Article 97 that sets out how MPs shall be elected in order to ensure it reflects a formula on how the gender balance shall be attained. Such formula is spelt out in Article 177 on the composition of County Assemblies.

“You know at the county level they have provided that if the elections don’t come up with the correct gender requirements then nominations will be made to ensure the deficit is met,” Ms Mumma explained.

“So it had been suggested that a similar clause be imported to Article 97 but the nervousness of that is that it will require an amendment,” she observed.

On Thursday the Cabinet said it had set up a task force to prepare a Constitutional Amendment Bill to deal with the one third gender representation requirement saying it was ‘technically unachievable under the current stipulation.’

The Cabinet also approved the Elections Bill for tabling in Parliament, albeit with amendments. The Cabinet withdrew the clause reserving 72 constituencies (that will be randomly selected) for single gender participation arguing that it was unconstitutional. This clause had been endorsed by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission after being proposed by a women’s lobby group to meet the gender quota.

Ms Mumma also said that the CIC was working on an implementation guide on human rights. She further urged Kenyan women to keep close tabs on the implementation of Article 43 of the Constitution which lays out the basic rights that every Kenyan is entitled to.

She argued that if women had access to these basic rights then they would be able to effectively participate in political contests.

“In my view Article 43 affects Wanjiku most because it touches on the socio-economic rights. It gives the right to health, water, education, name it,” she argued.

She also called for vigilance among Kenyans adding that the Cabinet had pledged to keep the CIC informed on the changes it was making to constitutional Bills.

“Implementation for the rights of women requires serious vigilance. You cannot pick the laws to audit; I know when we start working on family bills all women lobby groups will turn up but you have to be vigilant at all times,” she said.


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