Govt targets women in civic education

July 9, 2011 6:59 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 9 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Friday said that the government would soon roll out a nationwide civic education programme that would be led by women as the country prepares for next year’s elections.

Mr Kilonzo explained that women would be the major principals of the programme in an attempt to ensure that the country meets the one-third gender representation quota after the elections.

He argued that the move would encourage women to come out and compete for the political positions set out on their behalf by the Constitution.

“The days when our women were intimidated, frightened or tricked into staying in the background are long gone. We are going to use women to educate Kenyans on the Constitution so that we smoke them out to take these positions,” he said.

“I think that more than 50 percent of those giving civic education should be women,” proposed Mr Kilonzo.

United Nations Women Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, John Hendra, however noted that the civic education would have to be focused in order to bear positive results.

He added that there was also need to implement the Constitution in its entirety in order to realise its gains.

“There are some good laws around the world but several of those laws are not implemented and it’s one thing to have it on paper and another thing to have it come alive. That’s the challenge for Kenya right now,” he said.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance member Waceke Nduati also said there was need for women to be empowered economically. She argued that it would be impossible for women to participate in the country’s decision making structures without reliable financial support.

She noted that the Financial Sector Deepening Survey 2010 indicated that only 29 percent of those in formal and gainful employment were women. She added that 50 percent of poverty stricken households were led by women.

“Women are not participating as much as men in formal education. Only one percent of land title deeds are held by women while five to six percent are jointly held,” she cited.

“But the Constitution has developed a framework where this can change but it won’t happen without financial education to take them to the next level,” argued Ms Waceke.

The Justice minister also assured Kenyans that the Marriage Bill which was released by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution on Thursday was still a work in progress.

The proposed Bill legalises polygamy and also recognises come-we-stay arrangements, which go on for more than two years, as marriage. Polygamy is currently illegal in Kenya, except for Muslims who are allowed by their religion to marry a maximum of four wives. Come-we-stay arrangements are also not considered as marriage.

“It’s far too early to make commitments on whether it will be the law or otherwise. But our marriage Act is archaic so the need to amend and reform these laws has come especially in light of the Constitution,” said Mr Kilonzo.

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