LIMURU, Kenya, Oct 22 – Women leaders from 36 political parties on Thursday resolved to work together and advocate a change of the electoral system in the on- going constitutional review.
Speaking after the meeting, Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi said they would be pushing for the ‘Mixed Proportional Representative System’ – similar to the one implemented in South Africa – to ensure inclusivity and equity.
“Days are gone when some Kenyans, communities and certain groups of people think that they owned this country better than others; and we think that a better constitution will guarantee that for us.”
“In every clause we must have the inclusivity and the gender clause in mind.”
She said countries like Rwanda and Sweden which have recorded success in promoting gender representation use a different electoral system to Kenya’s ‘First Past the Post System’ which she described as brutal and discouraging to women candidates.
“Women of Kenya have invested in the reform agenda for a long time, Kenya is recognised as one of the countries with a strong women movement in the continent but the gains have been fluid, said Ms Kabeberi. “What I hear the women saying is that we will start reaping the benefits through constitutional reforms.”
During the meeting which began on Tuesday, political parties came under criticism for failing to allocate a third of seats in decision-making organs to women; with some threatening to petition the Registrar of Political Parties to de-register them over non-compliance.
“We are hoping that we shall get a leadership that actually appreciates and acknowledges the blood and sweat of women for all these years in Kenya,” said the CMD- Kenya boss.
At the same time, Committee of Experts on Constitution Review director Ekuru Aukot urged the women groups to remain vigilant in the process to make sure their interests are taken care of.
Dr Aukot said they will take President Kibaki`s advise during his Kenyatta day address where called for a constitution that is reflective of the Kenyan people.
“Our mandate requires us to harmonise all the existing drafts. In all those drafts there was a lot of improvement from the current constitution.”
The assurance comes in the wake of criticism over the committee’s handling of contentious issues, with a section of clergy challenging the review process for what they termed as ‘lack of enough consultations in the process.’