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Gender Commission vows to fight on over two-thirds quota

During the just concluded general election, only 23 women were elected as MPs, yet the rule requires women to be at least 117 members./MOSES MUOKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – The National Gender and Equality Commission on Monday vowed to pressure the 12th Parliament – which is slated to be sworn-in Thursday – to implement the two thirds gender rule.

This comes after the High Court declined to stop the swearing-in of Parliament on grounds that it was not properly constituted.

Vice-Chairperson Simon Ndubai said the Commission and civil society organisations will move back to court to obtain orders giving parliament a new time-frame to implement the affirmative action constitutional provision seeking to enhance gender equity in decision making.

He argues that Parliament must comply with the terms of the constitution and the failure to meet the constitutional threshold both in the National Assembly and Senate, precipitates a legal crisis.

“The only option left to us, is through courts. We will have to do a substantive application saying this Parliament is still not constitutional. So the court can either be able to give a directive, the way they had given earlier, giving this Parliament a timeframe so that they can pass the necessary legislation to ensure the Principle of the Constitution is adhered to,” he said.

He was referring to High Court Judge John Mativo’s ruling directing Parliament to implement the gender law within 60 days failure to which it risked being dissolved.

“When you fail this side you try on the other side… we will not give up.”

The period, however, lapsed without Parliament effecting the provision.

Last week, the High Court dismissed an application filed by the lobby groups seeking to bar to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from presenting a list of elected Members of both the National Assembly and Senate for swearing-in, unless they meet the two-thirds gender threshold.

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During the just concluded general election, only 23 women were elected as MPs, yet the rule requires women to be at least 117 members.

The lobby groups pointed out the 23 plus the 47 Woman Representatives and 12 slots for MPs nominated by political parties would bring the number to 76, making a shortfall of 41 women MPs.

In the Senate, women should make up to 23 members but only three were elected and 16 will be nominated, and one youth and one to represent persons with disabilities, will bring the number 21, remaining with a shortfall of two.

The Centre for Rights Education Awareness (CREAW), Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust (CAWT) and Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K) wanted to the swearing-in temporarily stopped, pending the hearing and determination of their case.

The judge however pointed out that the case was still arguable and directed hearing of the matter to be pushed to September 20.

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