NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has proposed the scrapping of the women representative and the nominated MPs seats.
Muturi has instead suggested that the two be replaced with 100 affirmative seats in order to resolve the two-third gender rule.
“There will be 25 nominated slots in the Senate, giving it a total of 72 thereby dealing with the issue of the two third gender rule in the Senate. In the National Assembly, there will be 100 slots bringing the total number of legislators to 390,” he said in his proposal.
The Speaker said the proposal would increase members in both Houses by 46 and it is bound to bring about the debate on the wage Bill. The Speaker urged Kenyans to make the sacrifice for the sake of empowering women and accept the proposed changes.
“I believe the increase is not calling for too much from Kenyans if we are going to address the issue of women representation in decision making organs as Parliament. We should not be tied to the issue of the economy not being able to do that when it comes to women representation,” Muturi stated.
Speaking from South Africa where he is attending the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Gender Advocacy Workshop for the Southern Africa sub-region, Muturi however noted with concern, the slow rate of introduction of bills and motions by women in Parliament on matters that promote gender equality in the House and across the country urging women to be proactive.
“I now throw this challenge back to women leaders, if you want representation, please be ready for this task – I will use every platform accorded to me on gender matters to advocate for gender equality in various facets. However, how you perform in those positions is purely your responsibility,” he said.
He fished out statistics pointing out the political representation of women in the region with Kenya standing at 19 percent compared to Rwanda’s 56 percent, South Africa’s 42 percent, Tanzania’s 36 percent and Uganda’s 35 percent.
“Out of the 290 elected Members of the National Assembly, just 16 (5.5 percent) are women. For the 1,450 ward representatives positions only 88 (6 percent) of the elected candidates were women,” he added.
In the 2013 general elections the participation of women remained very low where only 23 women contested for senatorial/ gubernatorial positions out of 237 candidates, however no women were elected as senator or governor.
Women have however defended their calls for the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule saying it is their constitutional right and should not be seen as favour.
Last week, Justice and Legal Affairs committee chairman Samuel Chepkong’a tabled a Bill whose proposal was to delete the five-year deadline to implement the two third gender rule so that it is achieved progressively, an issue that elicited sharp reactions from Kenya Women Parliamentarians (KEWOPA).
“We don’t think this is kind for the women of Kenya. There should be consultation on how we can achieve the two-thirds gender rule — we are going to remove our gloves and fight for the rights of women in this country. We got them painstakingly; we must defend them without fear or favour. As women we are coming out strongly on this matter,” said Cecily Mbarire KEWOPA Chair.
They have since threatened to rally their supporters to oppose the move by Chepkong’a saying it is bent on drawing back on the gains made by women in the agitation for equal representation.