, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Gender Minister Naomi Shaban is urging Members of Parliament to support a constitutional amendment Bill that seeks to set clear guidelines on attaining a requisite gender balance in the National Assembly.
Shaban, who was speaking at a forum on the Kenya Women’s National Charter on Thursday, argued that there was need for the country to ensure that the gender ratio was met as the country heads towards the next general elections.
She advocated a special formula to ensure gender parity is realised through party lists as well as in the elective posts.
“We have to make sure that we don’t end up with more than two-thirds members of the same sex in Parliament. The only way to do this is by making specific provisions that will address this requirement,” she said.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has already tabled the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, which seeks to alter Articles 81 (b) 90, 97 and 98 in order to make definite provisions on achieving the provisions on gender.
Some Members of Parliament however feel that the Bill is not properly before the House as they were not consulted.
Shaban also challenged the women to come out of their ‘comfort zones’ and competitively vie for elective posts arguing that it was the only way of transforming the historic male-centred structures.
“We must not continue taking a back seat as decisions are made. The Constitution has given us power to make the change that we have desired for so long but these reforms will not just be handed over; we must fight for them,” she urged.
The Kenya Women’s National Charter will be officially launched on Friday and seeks to bring women together and help them negotiate their interests with one voice.
Other women leaders present were assistant ministers Linah Kilimo, Wavinya Ndeti, Elizabeth Ongoro, nominated MPs Sophia Abdi Noor and Millie Odhiambo among others.
Kilimo challenged women, interested in vying for these political seats, to strategise and not shy away from taking them up.
“It’s like a game of chess and you must know what your chances are. When you’re abused by your competitors remember that none of the tags are printed on your forehead,” she quipped.
Wavinya asked the women not to forget what role they played in ensuring that the country maintained peace during the electioneering period.
Also present was Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution chairman Charles Nyachae who reminded the women of the gifts the Constitution had lined up for them.
He noted that there was a revamped gender commission, which was tasked with ensuring that gender issues were fairly tackled.
“The Constitution has already laid the foundation; it is now up to you to seek these positions,” he said.
The women were also urged to support each other in order to bolster their political agenda.
The charter was developed by more than 20 non-governmental organisations all seeking to push for women interests in decision making processes.