NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has expressed concern over the poor representation of women in elective positions in Kenya which is ranked position 70 in the world with only 19.7 percent.
The head of the IPU delegation and Chairperson of the caucus of Ugandan Women Parliamentarians Betty Amongi said although steps had been made to meet the two-third gender requirement, more needed to be done to ensure the minimum threshold of 33.3 percent is met before the next General Election.
“We are appealing to all political parties, members of the National Assembly, members of the Senate to take cognisance of the fact that political rights are fundamental Human rights and they should enforce women’s representation in the 2017 general election,” said Amongi.
She said their most recent research on the percentage of women representation put Kenya last among East African countries.
In the survey, Rwanda leads with 63.8 percent; Tanzania comes second with 36 percent followed by Uganda with 35 percent and Burundi with 30.6 percent.
She expressed confidence that the August 27 deadline to come up with a formula for gender representation would be met but noted that the deadline was fast approaching.
“We encourage harmonisation and consensus building,” she stated.
During a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi on Wednesday, Muturi said Parliament would extend the deadline to enable all stakeholders present their opinion and come to a consensus noting that only one Bill had since been published.
Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro who attended the briefing declined to give his stand on the matter saying he did not want to ‘colour’ the debate but proposed that women who have participated in the elections and lost should be prioritised while topping up the numbers to meet the requirement.
“You will look at the list of the people who have contested and since you have demonstrated your desire to assume a public office in an elective manner and since we believe there are no failures in an election, we get the best losers and those will fill the difference,” added Ethuro.
He reiterated Parliament’s commitment in meeting the gender rule and ensuring women empowerment.
“The Kenya Parliament is serious with the issue of gender and we would like to see it succeed not only in parliament but also in society. As a country we have embraced the two- thirds gender principle, the challenge is now on us,” said Ethuro.
Muturi on has dismissed the calls to give the women free seats saying they should brace themselves for a competitive elective process.
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) is currently holed up in a meeting in Mombasa with Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee over the matter.
The women parliamentarians have been demanding that Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a withdraws a Bill he tabled before the House which proposes that the gender rule be implemented in a progressive manner.
The Technical Working committee led by Attorney General Githu Muigai has also submitted proposals to Parliament and as has Ndhiwa legislator Aghostinho Neto.