, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Women legislators say they will not relent in the struggle to implement a legal requirement allowing the nomination of more women to the Senate and National Assembly to meet the constitutional two-thirds gender representation threshold.
This comes after MPs failed in their second attempt to pass the gender rule Bill after only 178 out of the 199 MPs present in the House supported it. Another 13 MPs opposed the Bill while five lawmakers abstained from the fresh vote.
- The Bill tabled by Majority Leader Aden Duale sought to top up the number of women in Parliament should the General Election fail to meet the constitutional threshold.
- The Duale Bill further provides for the achievement of the gender principle in Parliament within 20 years from the 2017 polls
- MPs failed in their second attempt to pass the gender rule Bill after only 178 out of the 199 MPs present in the House supported it. Another 13 MPs opposed the Bill while five lawmakers abstained from the fresh vote.
The sitting was earlier marked by drama after around 20 MPs walked out of the Chamber even as Speaker Justin Muturi ordered for the Quorum Bell to be rung to signal MPs who were within the precincts of the Parliament that their presence was required in the House.
The MPs walked out chanting ‘hiyo kitu tumeikataa, hiyo tumeikataa.’ (We don’t want that Bill, We don’t want that Bill).
Some MPs from both coalitions were heard saying that they would deny the House the two-thirds or 233 MPs requirement to pass a constitutional amendment bill.
Kenya Women Parliamentarian Association chairperson Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes) and Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo termed the matter a ‘temporary setback’ and vowed to submit fresh legislative proposals.
“It’s a temporary setback because we will be at it again; we are going to persuade our men… we are going to re-think other parts of the Constitution which we can come back to Parliament on the same issue,” Odhiambo stated.
Mbarire added: “Going forward, we expect members of the civil society to go to court so that we can get direction on what next, because this is not something we can wish away because we are sure it is coming back to haunt us in one way or the other.”
Kandara MP Alice Wahome backed Mbarire’s assertion that the Jubilee Coalition had failed the women of Kenya by not whipping its majority in the House to back the government-sponsored Bill.
“We are therefore very sad, as women and it should not have been the business of women alone…this really was a government Bill, we believe that the government was not on board for this particular purpose and therefore we want to return the problem back to the state under Article 27 of the Constitution,” Wahome regretted.
“We would have expected a little more effort from the part of government, so that we are sure that they were truly with us, but that lacked,” regretted the KEWOPA chairperson.
Tigania East MP Mburi Apuri said he opposed the Bill because it would have given women a free seat in Parliament.
He said the law will be used by party leaders “as usual” to nominate their “relatives and girlfriends, adding no value to National Assembly”.