NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – A fresh attempt to achieve gender parity in elective positions will be made on Thursday when a Motion to table a Bill on the two thirds gender rule, sponsored by nominated Senator Judith Sijeny is presented before the Senate.
Speaking during a media briefing Wednesday morning, Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki emphasised the need for gender balance in elective politics.
She pointed out that the formula will only be applied after the 2017 elections if the desired balance is not achieved during the polls.
“If we focus on SDG number five, it is really nothing else except empowering women and ensuring we attain gender equity. If we say gender equality it means women empowerment and goes on to underscore not only the importance of women but also girls,” she stated.
A government sponsored bill seeking to entrench the two-thirds gender rule failed to sail through the National Assembly three months ago, a move the Gender CS attributed to intense lobbying by opposing members and lack of proper information to the public.
“One of the reasons for the failure of the Duale Bill was lobbying by those opposed to it. My ministry and other stakeholders at that time did all we could but we also need to bring in the media so that we can get as much traction as is sufficient,” she said.
She explained that the defeat resulted in a missed opportunity to comply with constitutionally specified timelines but pointed out that the one before Senate presented another opportunity.
“We now have another opportunity through the Sijeny Bill tabled in the Senate as a private members Bill. It is agreed among key stakeholders that Sijeny Bill currently before the Senate is the most viable option to attempt meet the fast approaching deadline of 27th August 2016 stipulated in the Fifth Schedule if passed successfully,” she stated.
She indicated that the Sijeny Bill has provided a sunset clause and also limited the number times that one may benefit from being nominated under this mechanism.
“We fully support the Sijeny Bill and in collaboration with all the stakeholders have agreed to work concertedly to ensure success of the Sijeny Bill before the Senate. We now call upon each and every Honourable Senator to turn up tomorrow in the House and vote ‘Yes’ for this Bill,” she stated.
She noted that two main issues raised in opposition to the passing of the law include the perceived fear that ‘women will get free rides to Parliament’ and will not be required to compete and work hard for these seats like the men.
She stated that opposition to the manner in which political parties nominated the candidates to the affirmative seats was also another factor.