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Chief Justice Martha Koome (right) receives the official Judiciary flag from her deputy Philomena Mwilu (left) on May 24, 2021 when she took over office.

Fifth Estate

Let’s emulate the Judiciary for attaining gender parity

Reports this week that the Judiciary is about to achieve gender parity is sweet music to many not only in Kenya but across the world, an indication that women are breaking barriers.
For long, the Kenyan Judiciary is among institutions that have remained male-dominated fields for decades.
But a new report released by the Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi shows that for the first time ever, the number of women and men from the Supreme Court to the magistrate courts, across all categories of employment, is almost equal.
In fact, the entire top leadership of the Judiciary is an all-women affair, a first in the Republic of Kenya.
From Chief Justice Martha Koome, her Deputy Philomena Mwilu and the Chief Registrar Anne Amadi, the Judiciary has women at the top.
Kenya’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal combined have 29 judges which include 14 women and 15 men.

It is a first because there is no government ministry of the department that is led in that order.

“It is encouraging to see the judiciary take the lead in working towards the realization of equal-gender participation to increase diversity of views. Having more women at the decision-making table in an independent institution such as the Judiciary should not only be applauded but also emulated by other institutions,” said Judie Kaberia, a Gender Media Trainer at Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).

The Kenyan Constitution on Chapter Four under the Bill of Rights states that every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. Therefore, women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

Here is what we gender equality advocates should be proud of at the Judiciary.
The Labour Relations Court is headed by Maureen Onyango.
The Principal Judge of the High Court is Justice Lydia Achode.
The two are among 175 judges posted in court stations across the country, with 54 per cent being male while 46 per cent are women.

This translates to 95 male judges and 80 female.

This report was handed to the Senate Standing Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity.

The Judiciary also has some 588 judicial officers, 279 of who are male at 52 per cent and 259 female at 48 per cent.

The report further reveals that other non-Judicial staff are 4,520. 2,333 are women while 2,187 are men.

So how did this happen at the Judiciary:

According to the report that was presented to the Senate Committee; “The policy affirms that the Judiciary is an equal opportunity employer and shall not in its recruitment and selection process, discriminate [against] on the basis of gender, race, religion, ethnicity or any other form of discrimination.”

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The report further credits the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for stringent policies that dictate that the Judiciary is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on gender or disability.

The gender balance at the Judiciary is also reinforced by the International Association of Women Judges-Kenya and explains that the Judiciary Gender Mainstreaming Policy seeks to promote gender awareness and sensitivity, as well as equal opportunities in recruitment, promotion, training and career advancement within the Judiciary.

A USAID report released last year shows that Kenya scores 81 (out of 100) on the Women, Business and the Law 2020 index and ranks 109 out of the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 with 0.671, significant inequalities between males and females in education attainment, health outcomes, representation in parliament, and participation in the labor market remain.

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