Women MPs vow to fight change to gender rule

August 19, 2011 3:47 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association says it will fight any attempts to amend the Constitution to alter the one-third gender requirement.

They association says  such a move would be malicious, unfair and aimed at pushing forward the date for the next general election.

MPs Joyce Laboso, Sophia Abdi Noor and Rachael Shebesh who addressed journalists at Parliament buildings said that they would only support legislation that consolidates gains made by women through the new Constitution.

On Thursday, the Cabinet issued a statement that appeared to suggest that it wanted to amend the one-third rule terming is “unattainable.”

“We know the shenanigans that go on in Cabinet, the real thing they want to amend is the date of elections by saying that the provision for affirmative action cannot be implemented; you cannot take away a gain.  You can only effect and enhance it. Kenyan women are now awake and will not allow it,” said nominated MP Shebesh.

As such they have vowed to defeat the Elections Bill if the proposal to meet the one-thirds quota is struck out of the Bill.

“The Cabinet cannot tell us that it is impossible to implement this requirement, and there is no provision in the Constitution that doesn’t have a solution. This just shows the lack of political will to implement the constitution fully,” said nominated MP Sophia Abdi.

“The women of this country have given those proposals, we are still ready to give them proposals as many as they want, the Cabinet cannot close their eyes, ears and sleep on their job, and there must be a solution,” reiterated Ms Abdi.

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.

The Cabinet on Thursday resolved to form a task force to prepare a Constitution Amendment Bill to deal with the representation requirement which it termed “technically unachievable under the current stipulation.”

The Cabinet however said that it had approved the Elections Bill, which had initially set out a formula through which the gender provision would be met.

The formula, which was first proposed by a women’s lobby group before being endorsed by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, reserves 72 constituencies (that will be randomly selected) for single gender participation.

On Friday, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo clarified that the Cabinet did not want to delete the one-third clause but wanted to amend the constitution to factor in a formula to achieve the quota legally.


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