Majority of Kenyans want more women in public office

August 26, 2011 1:47 pm
Infotrak boss Angela Ambitho/ File

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – A new poll released by Infotrak Harris on Friday reveals that 74 percent of Kenyans support the constitutional provision on gender parity, with Nyanza recording the highest support.

Infotrak CEO Angela Ambitho pointed out that respondents from Nairobi and Central Kenya were least supportive of the provision which requires that no more than two-thirds of those occupying public office should be of the same gender.

Coast, North Eastern, Eastern and Western regions also recorded strong support, registering 78, 73, 73 and 72 percent respectively.

Ms Ambitho further explained that 44 percent of the 1,200 respondents indicated that they have voted for a woman in an elective post at one time or other.

“Many Kenyans however felt that women shied away from seeking elective positions with six in 10 Kenyans saying no woman stood in their constituency and so they couldn’t vote for someone who was not vying,” she observed.

Some of those who said they would not vote in a woman argued that women were the weaker sex and would therefore not make good leaders. Ms Ambitho added that some of those sampled also felt that women were not capable of leading and preferred that women continue taking the more traditional role as home keepers.

However those who supported the provision said it was time the country changed the status-quo and gave women the chance to lead so as to correct the historical injustices. Others felt that women were more empathetic and would make better leaders because of their management abilities.

“Thirty three percent said women are not competent enough to lead and so you can’t take them seriously; 26 percent also said that women can’t lead with men still present and they believe a woman’s place is in the kitchen,” explained Ms Ambitho.

Former Deputy Chairperson of the now defunct Committee of Experts, Atsango Chesoni, particularly took issue with the low support statistics indicated by Nairobi residents. She said there was need for proper civic education coupled with legislative measures to ensure that the country met the gender requirement.

She added that poor electoral processes that were often marred with violence discouraged women from participating.

“But it is people in Nairobi who are least willing to vote for a woman; there’s no surprise there. It is a complete and utter myth that there is a correlation between education and prejudice,” she argued.

“Being educated just gives you far more sophisticated tools to hide your prejudice and the worst sexist is an educated one,” she quipped.

The study also indicated that slightly more men than women were aware of the gender provision in the Constitution although more women than men supported it.

The gender requirement has been a hotly contested topic with some sections of the public arguing that it will be impossible to meet it. Last week, the Cabinet said it had set up a task force to prepare a Constitution amendment Bill to deal with the one third gender representation requirement saying it was ‘technically unachievable under the current stipulation’.

“With regard to the requirement for one-third representation in Parliament by either gender, Cabinet decided to set up a task force to prepare a Constitution amendment bill to deal with this important requirement that is technically impossible to achieve under the current stipulation,” read the statement.

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution also joined the debate saying that one of the solutions would be to meet any deficits through direct nominations in 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,” explained Commissioner Catherine Mumma.

However Members of Parliament have refused to support the proposal by CIC saying a political party should not be forced to nominate a woman candidate.


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