Kenya: One Third Of Lawmakers Must Be Women; Court Orders

Kenya’s Two Third Gender Rule– Coming as an ultimatum, Kenya’s High Court has given the parliament 60 days to enact the much put off gender legislation that one third of the MPs should be women.

The recent court rule says that the parliament will be dissolved if they fail to enforce the gender rule.

The gender legislation is not really new to Kenya. In 2010, the constitution opted for a gender inclusiveness in the parliament.

The Kenyan constitution stated that there should be an increase in the number of female MPs. It said that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender

However the law has not been kept to ever since it was made. The house has always been dominated by men even beyond the number stipulated by the constitution.

See Also: Nigerian Senate Rejects Bill On Gender Equality

After the 2013 election, Kenyan parliament witnessed an increase in the number of female lawmakers. Out of 349 seats, 68 (which is less than one third) were women. In the east African region, Kenya is one of the countries lagging behind in accommodating more women in politics.

A total of 290 are elected from the constituencies, 47 women elected from the counties and 12 nominated representation.

As contained in the 2010 constitution, Articles 81(b) and 27 (8) makes room for the provision of equal political chances and opportunities for the women. Article 177 goes on to ensure that the gender laws are upheld.

The 2010 Kenyan Constitution gives a protective recognition for women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

The constitution gave an initial deadline for the parliament to honor and pass the gender laws in 2015 but unfortunately the Kenyan gender rule is only alive on paper and not in practice.

The constitution made provisions for both men and women to enjoy equal political and socio-economic opportunities and privileges.

In reaction to the disregard of the constitution, right groups have petitioned against the anomaly.

See Also: Gender Gap Index Shows Gender Equality Will Only Be Possible In 170 Years

John Mativo, a Kenyan High Court Judge has accused the parliament of “gross violation” of the constitution.

“Parliament has a constitutional obligation to enact the requisite legislation and failure to do so within the stipulated period is in my view unacceptable and a blatant breach of their constitutional duty,”

For the second time the High Court ruling is giving the parliament 60 days to adhere to the constitution.

Mativo says that the parliament’s failure to enact the legislation within the stipulated time, would mean that “the petitioners or any other person shall be at liberty to petition the Honourable Chief Justice to advise the president to dissolve parliament.”

Victor Kamau, lawyer for the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights says it is about time the two third rule was implemented.

“The constitution… has been enforced, it has been brought alive in this judgement and we have been reminded as a people that this is the constitution we all aspired for.”

The Chairperson for the Commission says it will be a shame if the parliament rejects the gender rule again.