NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – More than 400 young women drawn from various political parties on Monday held a demonstration in Nairobi to petition the Registrar of Political Parties and Justice Minister to ensure that at least 50 percent of all elective and appointive positions are allocated to them.
The women converged at Charter Hall then walked through Uhuru Highway onto Anniversary Towers where they met the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u and presented their petition.
The demonstrators were clad in purple scarves to symbolise their demand for fair and balanced appointments.
Led by Youth Agenda Chief Executive Officer Susan Kariuki, they said that women below the age of 35 have been marginalised in leadership positions where their older counterparts are always favoured by those in power.
They asked the Registrar of Political Parties to de-register any party which fails to ensure their nominees for elective seats include the old and the youth.
“We are demanding that if one seat goes to a person over 35 then the other must be ours. (Racheal) Shebesh is not a youth neither is (Cecily) Mbarire. We want women who are under 35 years old. We can’t keep on rotating among the older women,” said one of the demonstrators.
According to the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association website, Rachael Shebesh, 41 was nominated by ODM to Parliament after the 2007 elections (but has of late been associating with The National Alliance). Cecil Mbarire, 40, is the Tourism Assistant Minister and Runyenjes MP.
When receiving their petition, Ndung’u urged the women to also push their political parties and ensure issues in their petition are all addressed through the respective party nomination rules.
She said she will also send their petition to the secretary generals of all political parties.
“I call upon young women leaders to also interrogate the rules and regulations and ensure that what you are petitioning is engraved in them but as an office we know that the affirmative action is included,” she said.
They later marched to the offices of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa.
Wamalwa pledged to seek audience with President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to have the issues in the petition addressed before the March 2013 general elections.
“Women and young people have been marginalised for a long time, but I also know that with the new Constitution under Article 55, it’s no longer how generous the State is to you but it is now a constitutional right that the government must put in place affirmative action measures to ensure the young women and young people of this country get their rightful share in the government,” he said.
“But as we talk of affirmative action for the women of Kenya, I subscribe to the principle that there must be affirmative action within affirmative action to enable the young women of Kenya get their rightful place ,” the Constitutional Affairs Minister added.
He also urged them to register as voters when the exercise kicks off in November. Wamalwa said that the youth make up more than 70 percent of the population but had failed to use it to propel their own to positions of leadership.