EXPERT COMMENT

Gender rule must be applied to elective positions

Both men and women are equal before the law

In Summary

• In case of a president, when a candidate is a man, the running mate should be a woman and vice versa.

• We need to have a complementary leadership system where women are part and parcel of this journey. 

ODM Nominated MP Dennitah Ghati
ODM Nominated MP Dennitah Ghati
Image: Coutersy

The 2010 Constitution is very clear that our electoral system should comply with the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.

Since 2013, Parliament has made several unsuccessful attempts to meet this requirement.

Chief Justice David Maraga has advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament, a move that has triggered all sorts of conversations.

There are those who are now saying the gender rule should not be applicable to elective positions. Parliament, on the other hand, is considering all the options that are at hand.

I oppose the notion that it should not be applied when it comes to elective positions for the reason that both men and women are equal before the law.

I support the proposals that were given to the Building Bridges Initiative task force. In case of a presidential contender, when a candidate is a man, the running mate should be a woman and vice versa. The same should apply in gubernatorial positions.

We need to have a complementary leadership system where women are part and parcel of this journey.

And the two-thirds gender rule should not be seen from a perspective that is a women's matter. It is applicable to all genders. At some point, we might end up having more women MPs than men and the rule shall be applied.

Women are naturally disadvantaged when it comes to politics and leadership. Compared to our male counterparts, we do not have resources and we are still facing cultural challenges.

Nominating women into Parliament or county assemblies is not sufficient to address this matter. The slots available are too few for the huge population of women we have. Women cannot forever be nominated.

Even those of us who are nominated, there is a feeling that we do not do much.  Nominated senators, for instance, do not have voting rights when it comes to some legislation. What is the benefit of nomination just to earn salaries?

Women with disabilities are also disadvantaged from the time of nomination through to campaigns. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Registrar of Political Parties and political parties should ensure that there is appropriate infrastructure for people with disabilities during campaigns.

The ODM nominated MP spoke to the Star