Time-Barred Two-Thirds Gender Rule

Rejection is the toughest thing humans have to cope with, I included. If the two-thirds gender rule was human, at this point it would have chosen to either come out and fight for its space or lay low and lose significance.

Article 100 of the constitution states that parliament shall enact legislation to promote representation of marginalised groups who include; women, youths, persons with disabilities, ethnic and other minority groups. For gender parity to be realised, the two-thirds gender principle calls for parliament to establish frameworks that would lead to the representation of both women and men from various groups in political spaces ensuring that institutions have women on board as well as men without bias. This article is supported by articles 27 and 81 to meeting the two-thirds gender rule.

The May 5th, 2016 Duale’s draft of the gender bill presented to the National Assembly failed to pass due to lack of quorum while the deadline of having a framework in place was fast approaching in 27th August 2016. The action by Parliament was a betrayal to people of Kenya and this continues to entrench systematic political marginalisation. The failure by the National Assembly has shown that our leaders have no totality when it comes to passing bills that matter most to Kenyans as they are entitled to quality representation. While parliament is put to task to pass the bill, the manifesto by Uhuru and Ruto promised to use Affirmative Action to eliminate ethnic division and ensure that marginalised and under-represented groups are properly if not fully represented in all aspects. There is little to show on this pledge. Other bills include; the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 famously known as the “Chepkonga Bill” that challenges article 81 (b) of the constitution so that the gender principle is achieved progressively setting aside the five-year deadline. The women termed the “Chepkonga Bill” as a ‘broken promise’ and an attempt to deny women their constitutional rights; and the two-thirds Gender Rule Laws (Amendment) Bill proposed by a Technical Working Group that provides for amendments to five acts to compel parties, county governments and the electoral commission to consider interests of special groups.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is a step ahead as it passed a bill that was moved by MP Nancy Abisai from Kenya and it makes provisions for gender equity, equality, protection and development within the community. Known as East African Community Gender Equality, Equity and Development Bill 2016, passed on 2017 International Women’s Day, it should serve as an example to our Kenyan legislatures who are now under a sixty-day ultimatum to pass a gender bill or face dissolution ahead of August 2017 General Elections. The directive, coming from the High Court Judge John Mativo, has faulted parliament for failing to meet the five-year constitutional deadline. Implementation of articles 27 and 81 remain elusive as leaders say that the two months’ deadline to implement the two-thirds gender rule is impractical. An important question also arises with the issued 60 days which at the same time the parliament will be dissolved to pave way for the August elections and thus the effectiveness of the directive may not have as much impact as per the expectations of Kenyans.

The parliament having failed more than twice to pass the two-thirds gender rule with the perception that women will be given opportunities in power and thus it threatens some of the leaders’ political spaces has shown that Kenyan politics are very patriarchal despite the constitution providing laws that ought to be followed.  The Kenya Human Rights Commission and Federation of Women Lawyers and The Law Society of Kenya and National Gender and Equality Commission have been listed interested parties and friends of the court respectively. The fate of the gender law remains in limbo acknowledging that the ruling by Justice Mativo is time barred to offering a solution with the current parliament set to be dissolved in two months. The likely scenario should this happen, is that the new parliament will have to be the one to pass the gender law while in office.

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