NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – Kenyan women have been challenged to become more aggressive in taking up offices that have been created for them under the Constitution which demands a one-third gender balance.
Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Saturday, Global Women Summit Chief Executive Officer Paula Fellingham said women should stop being lax in competing for the positions arguing that they would not simply be handed over to them.
She noted that women often took a back seat when it came to such challenging processes instead of competing for them.
"Sometimes women complain that they are not happy with how things are but then they are not doing enough to make these changes happen. If things are not okay, what do you want changed?" she posed.
"They need to start being the change that they want to see," she urged.
African Woman and Child Executive Director Rosemary Okello however argued that the government should make more effort to get women and ensure that they apply for these positions.
She added that the government should analyse the main reasons why women shied away from these posts and strive to address them.
"I can say that the government and the society are lazy; they are not going out there to look for the women. The term affirmative action is not about women being there; it\’s about you going out there to ensure that they are there and that what you agreed upon is achieved," she said.
Women have in recent pasts been criticised for their reluctance to take up these positions. The vetting of judges has, in particular, been delayed after women failed to apply to sit on the board that will carry out the exercise.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission has also registered its concern surrounding the one-third gender representation balance saying it was not sure how to meet the quota after next year\’s elections.
Ms Okello however disputed these concerns saying that with proper information and awareness women would come out and compete for these seats.
"I think such concerns are neither here nor there. And we know that come 2012 we will see a different change in representation. Everyone is asking whether we will be able to marshal the numbers and we are saying yes we will," she argued.
The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has in the meantime moved to Court over the nominees for the Supreme Court saying the Judicial Service Commission failed to meet the one third gender balance threshold.
The organisation wants to have an extra woman nominated to the Court so as to have three women and four men in the Supreme Court.
Ms Fellingham added that women should also play a part in strengthening themselves economically.
"They should use education and entrepreneurship to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and hunger," she said.
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