Page 1

Status of Women Status of Women


Issue Number 37 • June 2013





Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Two steps forward, one backward Unclear laws a barrier to women's political leadership …By Joyce Chimbi


t all started with political party nominations when male dominated political parties made a farce of the expanded political space. The battle for party nomination tickets floored scores of strong and capable women as male dominated party politics took centre stage. Unlike before where only three seats were contested for Senate, Governor and Women Representative seats. As it has been in the successive post-colonial General Elections, this year’s polls were not any different with regards to representation of women in elective positions. Women’s performance in elective politics has continued to take a nose-dive despite the new Constitution of Kenya 2010 having progressive provisions of women’s representation. Continues on page 5



Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Status of Women

Government cannot afford to kill the Ministry of Gender …By Jane Godia


he women of Kenya are a worried lot. Being a unique and special constituency, women have special issues that can only be addressed if they are categorized and handled as women issues. It is for this reason that women fought tooth and nail from the 1980s to the late 1990s to ensure that a Ministry for Gender was established. The Ministry of Gender, Children’s Affairs and Social Development has come a long way. It started as a Department of Women’s Affairs within the Ministry of Culture. Later, the department was elevated and merged with two others to make the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs. The name itself is a mouthful and even if there was budgetary allocation here, the gender arm suffered by getting the least. This would later change to become the Ministry of Gender, Children’s Affairs and Social Development. Largely labelled as the ’ministry ya wanawake’, it already has too much going on within its composition. The ministry has a huge mandate to gender, children and social development. The ministry promotes gender mainstreaming in national development processes and engender the national budget; coordinates the development, reviews and implements gender responsive policies and programmes; promotes women’s right and economic

empowerment; promotes interventions for the reduction of sexual and gender based violence; and promotes the generation of sex desegregated data. Within the new political dispensation, this ministry is nowhere to be seen. It has been killed and the women are now motherless. They are being told, according to a speech delivered by Senator Kipchumba Murkomen on behalf of Deputy President William Ruto that gender matters will be mainstreamed within all ministries. This was said during a conference held under the Mwamko Mpya Uongozi Bora initiative in Nairobi that sought to advance women’s rights agenda and bridge the gender equality gaps.

Communique In a communique to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, delegates who also included women senators, MPs and Women County representatives, said they want nothing short of a Ministry with a Cabinet portfolio that will oversee the functions of three key departments: Department of Women’s Affairs; Department of Youth Affairs: Department of Persons With Disabilities and Vulnerable Groups. Arguments were put forth as to why it is important for the Jubilee Government to ensure that there is a ministry for Gender. The Constitution has imposed a limit of 22 ministries. Already 18 have been defined. This should be 19th ministry.

Lest we forget there are many issues within which this Ministry rotates around that we cannot afford to do without it. For one, Kenya is a host to the African Women’s Decade Secretariat that was launched in October 2010 and will run until 2020. It was a privilege for Nairobi, and the Ministry of Gender for that matter, to be given the priority to be the first to host the secretariat. The African Women’s Decade is a ten year campaign that seeks to attain gender equality, women’s advancement and the respect of women’s rights in Africa. Is it now going to be relocated to another country? What will happen to Kenya, a member of the Commonwealth, when the Secretariat hosts the triennial conference for Ministers of Gender (women’s affairs)? The Women’s Affairs Ministers meetings have been held since 1985 and have provided strategic opportunities for ministers, senior officials, civil society organisations, and partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality. They contribute to Commonwealth and global agenda-setting processes. Will Kenya miss out on the meeting because it has no cabinet docket on this? What will happen to Kenya during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women? The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Coun-

cil (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide. Who will represent Kenya, a member of the United Nations here?

Convention What will happen when Kenya goes to report to the Committee on the Elimination of All form of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)? The CEDAW watches over the progress for women made in those countries that are the State parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and Kenya is one of them. A country becomes a State party by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women. The Committee monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfil this obligation. Who will represent Kenya here? Will this be left to the civil society? It is only two years before the world joins together again to celebrate 30 years after the United Nations’ Nairobi Conference and 20 years after the Bei-

jing Conference which both set bench marks on addressing gender equality. It is also only two years to the end of the Millennium Development Goals that were set out in 2000 among which was Goal number three which targets to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment? Although the Jubilee Government argues that gender will be mainstreamed in all ministries, who will be the watchdog for the women? The argument that the National Equality and Gender Commission is already there does not hold any water. Don’t we have the Commission for Higher Education and a Ministry for Education? Don’t we have the Kenya Law Review Commission and a Ministry for Constitutional Affairs? Why is it that it is only the Gender Ministry that is being killed? By killing the Ministry of Gender, we are killing the African dream as well as the women’s dreams and aspirations. We are dismantling a foundation that took years of hard work to build. Like one participant at the conference said, “killing the ministry and saying gender issues will be mainstreamed everywhere, is like the case of the orphaned child who is left with everybody and nobody takes responsibility”. The President should rethink the case of women and set up a ministry as per his government’s commitment to women’s agenda. If it must be within his office then it must have a cabinet portfolio in charge of Women Affairs.

Cost of filing petitions denies poll losers access to justice

…By Mercy Mumo


he number of women in the last parliament was more than what is in the current eleventh parliament. After the March polls, it was anticipated that there would be more women but due to a number of factors that range from malpractices and harsh political environment, the two-thirds threshold was not met, this despite the huge number of women seeking elective position. However, all is not lost as many women who think they were robbed of their victory at the ballot have decided to go to court. However, it is not going to be easy as many have since given up hope. If the presidential petition was anything to go by, then justice may just be as elusive for the women who filed for an election petition. The costs involved in the quest for justice have made some of them withdraw from seeking justice.

Price As at April 15, 2013, the number of election petitions on all the elective posts countrywide was 186. Around the same time, the Judiciary Working Committee indicated that 70 petitions were challenging elections in parliamentary posts, 67 county assembly, 23 governor, 12 senate and nine for the women representative seat. Under Section(78, 2) (a-c) of the Elections Act 2011, a person who presents a petition to challenge an election shall deposit KSh1 million in the case of a petition against a presidential candidate, KSh500,000 for a

Rozzah Buyu and Olago Aluoch leave court after hearing of a petition case that Buyu has filed against Aluoch’s election as member of Parliament for Kisumu Town West. The cost of filing for a petition in the post-election has denied many women an opportunity to justice. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

member of Parliament or governor and KSh100,000 against a member of the county assembly. According to the Centre for

Education Rights and Awareness (CREAW) Executive Director Wangechi Wachira, the security costs are exorbitant and beyond the reach of

many. This is partly the reason why many women withdrew from their bid to file petitions. The Act stipulates that security for costs which are payable by the petitioner should be done in not more than 10 days after the presentation of a petition. Section 78 (3) of the same act goes on to explain that where a petitioner does not deposit security as required as stipulated in this section, or if an objection is allowed and not removed, no further proceedings shall be heard on the petition. In addition, the respondent may apply to the election court for an order to dismiss the petition and for the payment of the respondent’s costs. “After coming from such an expensive campaign period, majority of the women did not have any money left to seek legal redress,” notes Wangechi. In order to present a strong case, you need experienced lawyers who have handled such cases before and their legal fee is also not a walk in the park. “Lawyers will equally be asking for their fee which in most cases is high. Inclusive of the deposit, the charges can go up to a million shillings.”

Justice Initially, the Centre for Education Rights and Awareness (CREAW) worked with 37 women who had filed for the petition. Six of the women included Jacinta Mwatela, Naomi Cidi, Mary Mwangi, Roza Buyu, Sophia Abdi and Waithera Chege requested to be

supported financially. In partnership with the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD), CREAW secured lawyers for the women on pro-bono basis. “Out of the 37 women who were challenging the election outcome, only 11 have gone through. We hope that justice will be served in their favour as they have fought hard for this,” she notes. Wangechi says that justice should be free and fair to all. It should be able to penetrate down to the lowest levels. Campaigns cost money irrespective of the type. Political campaigns for most women are a nightmare due to the costs involved. Most women during campaigns spend beyond their means and end up borrowing. Political parties did not sponsor them during the campaigns. “When you place a price tag on justice, it means that majority is locked out and only the few with resources are able to press on. This is denial of justice to anyone with a valid argument,” says Wangechi. Most of the election petition cases are seeking to challenge the malpractices in the entire process, cancellation of some results, scrutiny and vote recounts, spoilt and rejected votes, declare fresh elections, costs incurred and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as a body. The constitution requires that the cases should be heard and determined within six months of filing. “The court has pledged to adhere to the stipulated period for ruling. Let’s hope that justice will be served,” avers Wangechi.

Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Violence against women to blame for dismal performance …By Duncan Mboyah


omen aspirants in the recent General Election faced violence that was mainly instigated by members of their own political alliances, organised gangs as well as election and security officials. The violence coupled with other barriers such as lack of party support and financial resources as well as negative cultural beliefs dimmed women’s participation in the 2013 General Election. There were major concerns of intimidation, ridicule and propaganda against women candidates which forced them to withdraw from the race during the primaries. “This intimidation forced many potential women candidates to give up contesting the seats that were easily won by male candidates,” Jebiwot Sumbeiywo, Chief of Party Peace Initiative Kenya (PIK) told Kenya Woman.

Advocacy Organisations at the forefront in the fight against gender based violence should advocate for the information regarding violence to be made public since GBV, especially sexual violence is a major concern both at the national and county government levels. Other women politicians facing violence, children are not spared and are abused by relatives, neighbours and teachers. “Problems of poverty, urban overcrowding and social structure breakdown are allowing the predatory activities to flourish, calling for GBV actors to coordinate their efforts to play a strong advocacy role which will bring every home and every institution to discuss the problem of Gender Based Violence,” notes Sumbeiywo. She adds: “Borrowing from the peace campaigns during the just concluded elections, this gesture can also

be replicated in fighting Gender Based Violence because it is still a form of violence that needs to be eradicated in our minds and then we actually see results.” However, Sumbeiywo challenges women leaders to continue educating the public on the one third principle to correct the misinformation that is being given to the public. “Leaders must continuously engage with men and the community in general to consider how many more women are given elective positions so that by the time we get to another election, communities will have known the correct information as opposed to propaganda,” she explains. Women’s rights movement and human rights organisations have also been called upon to intensify monitoring of all county governments to ensure that the one third rule is actualised at all levels of decision making. In Kenya, electoral violence relates to people feeling unsafe if other ethnic candidates take up leadership roles. When their own people do not get these positions, people become fearful and resort to violence. “The new government must encourage inclusion of all ethnicities and should not favour any region but must make effort to correct errors of previous governments favouring regions where people in power came from,” Sumbeiywo reiterates. According to a study done by the African Woman and Child Feature Service (AWC Features), most of the women affected by violence were those who contested for the post of Member of Parliament (37.2 per cent). They were followed by those who contested for the governor’s seat at 20.9 per cent, senator at 19.8 per cent, county representatives at 9.4 per cent, women representatives at 8.1 per cent and presidency 4.7 per cent. All women affiliated to various alliances and parties that participated

Kenya’s only woman Presidential aspirant during the last General Elections Martha Karua seen during her campaign trials. Most women aspirants faced violence leading to their poor performance in the elections. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

in the electoral process faced numerous challenges. Women aspirants in the Jubilee Alliance (48.6 per cent) and Cord Coalition (34.7 per cent) faced the greatest violence in their efforts to be elected. The assessment reveals that violence targeting women candidates mainly occurred during the party nomination stage (42 per cent) followed by the period of actual campaigns (33.7 per cent), registration of voters by the electoral body (22.9 per cent) and on the election day (1.2 per cent). The more pronounced forms of violence directed at women candidates during the 2013 electioneering were mainly in the form of intimidation, propaganda and physical assault. Other forms of violence experienced by women aspirants included threats, destruction of property, abductions, verbal abuse and use of derogatory language which demean women status. Electoral violence against women candidates occurred mainly after the political rallies where 36.9 per cent of women aspirants were reported attacked or during the declaration of results. Some women were attacked by male opponents who on sensing danger of losing would unleash violence to intimidate them. The announcement of results is yet another trigger for

violence and voting against women candidates seeking political leadership in Kenya. Violence against women candidates was quite prevalent in the month of December 2012 and January 2013 when the women hit the road soliciting for votes. Different media houses were found to have their own editorial policy on coverage of electoral related challenges that faced women in the run-up to 2013 General Elections. The Star dedicated the largest space in covering violence related news targeting women with a space of 29,361 cm2 (32 per cent) followed by The Daily Nation 24,498 cm2 (26.7 per cent), The People 22,663 cm2 (24.7 per cent) and the Standard 15,231 cm2 (16.6 per cent). Cross analysis by newspapers indicate that Daily Nation and The People covered most of electoral violence targeting Jubilee women candidates (43.4 per cent) and (40.1 per cent) respectively while Cord Coalition women candidates were mainly covered by the Standard (36.7 per cent) and People (39.1 per cent). Amani Coalition were mostly covered by the Standard (11.7 percent) compared to the People (9.4 per cent) and Daily Nation (5.6 per cent). A prominent feature of the articles on electoral violence target-

ing women was that such stories were mostly hidden in the inner pages of the newspapers at 96 per cent with only 2.7 per cent of such news captured on the headlines and 1.3 percent in the back pages. The editorial line of each media outlet displayed a clear polarization in coverage based on individual women aspirants’ political leaning. Print media were more diverse in their coverage of women candidates with aspirants across the political divide receiving coverage as highlighted in the individual candidate’s experiences.

Legislation The report notes that political parties and the electoral body must come up with strict electoral code of conduct and punitive legislation to curb electoral violence against women through civic education. Media houses are called upon to conduct tailored training for media professionals (journalists) and editors focusing on electoral news coverage and the need for impartiality as well as exposing electoral violence and other malpractices targeting women. The study challenges lobby groups to ensure enforcement for Bill of Rights Article 27(3) on the two-thirds principle to achieve gender equality in leadership is achieved.

Bruising battle for representation at county ward level …By Joyce Chimbi


s the dust settles after the much heated General Election, organizations and individuals advocating for gender equality and empowerment have retreated to assess the performance of women in the 2013 race. While women had previously performed better at the lower levels of representation than the national, the ushering in of the new constitution was expected to boost their numbers but this was not the case. Many of the women, due to lack of the necessary academic qualifications and campaign resources, opted for lower positions. However, they had to fight hard to first earn political party nomination, and then sustain a vibrant issue-based campaign for them to have an impact. In the 2013 election was not an exception, only 84 women were elected out of 1,450 county wards. In

Kisii County for instance, 14 women will have to be nominated for the assembly to comply with the not more than two thirds gender rule. In other counties the number of women to be nominated will be higher given that no single woman was elected. “With only 84 female ward representatives out of 1,450, it is clear that even at the lower level, women did not fare any better,” says Dinah Mukami, a political activist.

Push In all the 47 counties, no woman was elected senator or governor prompting the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) to push for more women to be absorbed within the county executive committees. With only five per cent women representation in elective national politics, it is evident it is a long way to go before Kenyans can embrace women leadership.

“Were it not for the 47 women representatives elected under the affirmative action to represent counties in the National Assembly, gender disparity in political representation would have been massive,” notes Mukami. There is concern that if not checked, marginalisation of women in governance is likely to be worsened in the county governments. It is imperative to note that the 67 seats out of 349 members (excluding the Speaker) represents 13.5 per cent of the National Assembly members. An indication that indeed, the affirmative action as is the case in Uganda and Rwanda, is making inroads. Failure by women to register major gains in the elections can be attributed unfavourable political environment. Women continue to cry foul claiming that their male counterparts have turned competitive politics into an adversarial and antagonistic smear campaign.

Millicent Mugadi, Ziwani Ward representative, and the first female ward representative in Nairobi on The National Alliance (TNA) party, confirms that the journey was marred with mudslinging. In a bid to alienate her from the women vote, Mugadi’s opponent produced a photograph of a naked woman claiming that it was her.

Standards “There are gross double standards in politics. Women are expected to be moral but the electorate seems least concerned with the morality of men,” explains Mukami. She adds: “So when the moral character of a female candidate is put to test or questioned, this can have very damaging repercussions on her.” Ken Otieno, a social analyst concurs: “It is true that there was a lot of propaganda against women, especially around their moral standing as well as the affirmative action seat.”

According to Otieno, voters were rallied against voting for women “because they already had their own seat”. Otieno notes that while affirmative action seats were established in good faith, little or lack of voter education may have resulted into voters being duped by unscrupulous male politicians. Although Kimani Wamae does not dispute the fact that women had it rough in politics, he says: “As an anthropologist, I believe in the power to adapt to the environment, something that women in politics need to learn.” Using a metaphor, Wamae explains: “There is a reason why giraffes have longer necks. They were not always like that but as the trees continued to grow taller, the giraffes had to adapt, those who did not died.” He, therefore, draws a similar analogy to women in politics. “Women in politics must adapt to the rough terrain or they will surely die politically,” he says.


Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Status of Women

Parliament risks dissolution over gender quota …By Faith Muiruri


he simmering debate on the realization of the one third gender rule appears to have taken centre stage even as the expanded legislature and county assemblies take shape. In the past few weeks, the National Assembly grappled with the challenge of implementing the one third gender rule in formation of the House committees. There are 69 female MPs in the 349 member National Assembly, which is short of the at least 30 per cent requirement. At the county level, about 600 women have been nominated to bridge the gap after the March 4 General Elections failed to deliver the required gender threshold as outlined in Article 177 (b) of the Constitution. However, legal experts are upbeat that the 2015 ceiling set by the Supreme Court ruling will provide a clear roadmap for the subsequent implementation of gender quota in Parliament.


According to the ruling, Parliament must enact the necessary legislation to give effect to the two thirds gender principle, under Article 81 (b) of the Constitution and in relation to the National Assembly and Senate, by August 27, 2015. The legislation must also be enacted within the timeframe outlined in the fifth schedule of the Constitution. “The Constitution also provides a recourse if the legislation is not enacted within the specified timeframe. Article 261 of the Constitution can be invoked to pave way for the dissolution of Parliament at the expiry of the grace period,” explains Prof Jill Ghai, a legal expert on Constitutional matters. Ghai notes that in its ruling, the Supreme Court largely relied on the provisions of Article 100 on the promotion of representation of marginalized groups. However, Article 100 is really meant to promote measures that may include education and providing incentives such as using the Political Parties’ Fund to reward parties that get women elected. “While it is highly possible that they may have misunderstood the intentions of Article 100, the good news is that all laws under Article 100 must be passed by 2015 as stipulated in the fifth schedule of the Constitution,” Ghai explains. Focus now shifts to Parliament to give meaning to the two thirds gender rule which is derived under Article 81(b) of the Constitution. Parliament has an array of options including putting in place legislative measures it considers appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement of the two thirds gender rule.

Options For instance, Parliament can opt for the adoption of a Mixed Member Proportion system, with only 210 constituencies, and 80 list members, the latter allocated on the basis of votes received. This would produce a house roughly proportional to the votes cast. Either all the 80 could be women, or as many as needed to produce one-third women. Or they could adopt a purely proportional representation system which has a natural tendency to produce legislatures that reflect the make-up of

Legislators seated during the state opening of parliament in April this year. Failing to fulfil the constitution on gender requirement threatens the sittings. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

the country — since the parties seek to appeal to all sectors in their choice of candidates. Parliament can also enact the legislation contemplated in Article 27 (8) or amend the Constitution as proposed earlier to have top up seats. According to Prof Wanjiku Kabira, Parliament must take advantage of the 2015 grace period to effect the gender rule within the stipulated timeframe. “The Supreme Court ruling granted Parliament temporary reprieve which expires in 2015. After that anybody can move to court and seek dissolution of Parliament if the required legislation is not put in place,” Kabira notes. According to Kabira Parliament has no option but to put in place proper mechanism in tandem with the Supreme Court ruling to aid in the realisation of the gender rule. She says that Parliament must explore all possible avenues including amending the Constitution to give effect to the gender rule. “Parliament must be open to options that may include amending the Constitution to give effect to the thirds gender rule,” she says. Kabira explains that once the legislation is enacted, political parties can decide to nominate more women to parliament to bridge the gender gap. “Once the necessary legislation is in place, political parties can still nominate more women to parliament to meet the two thirds gender rule, but even if this is not done, women will be assured of a solidified gender quota during the 2017 General Election,” Kabira expounds. She says that initially, the gender rule provision was entrenched in the harmonized draft of the constitution but Members of Parliament rejected the clause during negotiations in Naivasha.

“The Parliamentary Select Committee rejected a proposal by the Committee of Experts (Co) in their “Revised Harmonised Draft”, for extra seats, to bring up the number of women to one third (as well as persons with disability to five per cent, and five per cent being in a broad class of other marginalised groups,” Ghai explains. However, she notes that it was impossible to know how many extra seats would have been needed, because the Committee of Experts, wisely, did not specify the number of geographical constituencies. It was a form of Mixed Member Proportional system because the extra members would have been taken, from party lists, in proportion to the number of votes cast for each party in the constituencies.

Amendment Proposals for constitutional amendment could, however, return to the Revised Harmonised Draft approach for the National Assembly. The Kenya Human Right Commission (KHRC) nevertheless feels that Parliament needs to explore legislative mechanisms that include amending the Elections and the Political Parties acts to enforce the gender rule. “Asking Parliament to amend the Constitution could result in reversal of gains. It will set a bad precedent of resorting too quickly to constitutional amendment whenever there is a challenge,” the Kenya Human Rights Commission avers. It states that gender issues are likely to be relegated to the periphery and addressed in a simplistic manner if the Constitution is amended, therefore, robbing women of their gains. Failure by last Parliament to pass the necessary legislation prompted Attorney General Githu Muigai to

petition the Supreme Court for an interpretation of how the country should attain the gender equity principle.

Marginalization On December 11, 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitutional provision calling for a mandatory one third gender representation would not apply to March 4, General Election and should instead be implemented progressively by August 2015. In the landmark decision by four of the five judges hearing the case, Jackton Boma Ojwang, Njoki Ndung’u, Philip Tunoi and Smokin Wanjala, the one third gender requirement for the National Assembly and Senate could not be enforced in the 2013 elections. They said that the historical

“Parliament must be open to options that may include amending the Constitution to give effect to the thirds gender rule. Once the necessary legislation is in place, political parties can still nominate more women to parliament to meet the two thirds gender rule, but even if this is not done, women will be assured of a solidified gender quota during the 2017 General Election.” Prof Wanjiku Kabira

marginalisation of women in elective bodies could not be resolved by quotas but would only be realised over time and in stages. However, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga ruled in favour of the principle being implemented ahead of the elections. The ruling by the Supreme Court provoked uproar with women leaders terming the action as a big blow to women’s empowerment. “The women of Kenya are seeing this as a blatant and direct violation of women’s constitutional rights of equality and non-discrimination based on sex,” said Rose Waruhiu, a women’s rights activist and former member of the East African Legislative Assembly. She added: “The ruling makes a charade of the whole idea of constitutionalism and is the ultimate insult to Kenyan women, women around the world and in essence the Kenyan people.” The government has in the past signalled its belief in using ordinary legislation to achieve gender balance. Its periodic reports to the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), even before the Constitution of Kenya indicate that it is possible to achieve that objective through the instrument of the Political Parties Act. The State has already signalled its capacity to use ordinary legislation to achieve gender balance through the County Government’s Act. In USA where gender equality provisions are less explicit than Constitution of Kenya (CoK) 2010, affirmative action was achieved not via constitutional amendment but through a raft of executive orders and voluntary internal administrative action by non-state actors. This is what Kenya could resolve to if not through constitutional amendments to achieve the gender quotas.

Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Joyce Laboso: Strategy key to political survival …By Faith Muiruri


he essence of strategy is being able to seize the moment when an opportunity presents

itself. This is exactly what Dr Joyce Laboso did to clinch the position of a Deputy Speaker in the eleventh parliament, thus becoming the first woman in the history of this country to hold the coveted seat. Today, she has become a household name and is quickly emerging as a strong political force both at the national level and in her Rift Valley backyard. “I knew from the word go that I had every opportunity to become the Deputy Speaker. I had served in the Speaker’s panel during the tenth parliament and thus had the requisite experience needed for the seat,” Laboso explains.

Survival Her fortunes were, however, highly pegged on her ability to endear herself to members from both sides of the house. Secondly, she was a member of the Jubilee Coalition which was poised to get the position owing to its numerical strength in Parliament. However, Laboso still required support from across the political divide. House rules require that a winner gets two thirds of the votes to win in the first round. She says it was not easy but with the help of female MPs from across the political divide, she managed to marshal immense support to win the seat in

the first round. Laboso was elected the Deputy Speaker with 254 votes — the highest for the day — against Abdikadir Omar of ODM who got 90 votes. “It was a matter of seizing the moment and deciding this is what I am going for and reminding those in the position to support me,” says Laboso. Speaking during a two day women’s conference jointly organized by the Women Empowerment Link Laboso intimates that she first sought support from the two principles in the Jubilee Coalition because she didn’t know who was going to be their choice for the seat. The women’s meeting was held under the theme “Advancing Women Rights Agenda; Bridging the Gender Equality Gaps’’. “When President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto convened a meeting of elected representatives after the elections, I took it upon myself to announce that this is what I want because I have the ability, I have the experience and I am in the right side of the coalition that stands a high chance of winning the position,” she said. Laboso also reached out to CORD MPs who sponsored her first bid to Parliament. She told the newly elected women MPs and senators who attended the meeting to become strategic in their new roles and reposition themselves in a way that will increase their visibility in the house. “You must learn the art of being able to seize the moment and opportunity when it presents

itself and avoid shying away from responsibilities,” she said.

Opportunity The Deputy speaker said as legislators, they can only increase their visibility if they contribute at the floor of the house. “You were elected to talk. There is nothing else. Most of you think you can only talk after you have researched to be able to say very sensible things. Get up and speak because that is what parliament is about,” she urged. She said “the more you speak, the more you will get noticed. “Do not be afraid and do not shy away from the media. You would rather say something wrong and apologise later rather than not say anything. That is how you begin to build your profile. That is how you get to be known and recognized,” she affirmed. Laboso called on women to unite beyond party lines and rally around a common agenda. She said that women MPs and senators should be able to address gender concerns at all levels of representation adding that the women agenda should not be subverted by other considerations such as party and ethnic interests. She also urged them to contribute to motions and bills. “Currently we do not have question time where legislators would contribute and therefore, women must be familiar with motions and bills before the

House to enhance their participation. She told them to take advantage of support accorded by other players including the civil society organizations to bring motions in Parliament. “We have a strong legal department which can help you formulate bills. All you need is to formulate the question and the legal experts will research

for you,” she said. “You also need to identify your niche to be able articulate issues passionately. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of sustaining a strong presence at the constituency level,” Laboso reiterated. She added: “You will need to have a clear program of how you will engage both at the national level and as an elected representative in the constituency.”

“You were elected to talk. There is nothing else. Most of you think you can only talk after you have researched to be able to say very sensible things. Get up and speak because that is what parliament is about.”  Dr Joyce Laboso

Unclear laws a barrier to political determination for women Continued from page 1

This can be traced back to the first parliament which was all-male. In the second general election in 1969, Nyanza Province made history by electing the first woman Member of Parliament, Grace Onyango, for Kisumu Town Constituency. Onyango’s election was the beginning of long painful journey of women representation in parliament. From 1979 to 1988, Dr Phoebe Asiyo was elected the parliamentary representative of Karachuonyo Constituency. She was again elected in 1992. In 1984, Grace Ogot was elected as GEM MP and subsequently appointed as an assistant minister by the then President Daniel arap Moi. She was again elected in 1988. Since then, in the intervening years, the region did not elect a woman to parliament. The impasse was recently broken by the election of Millie Odhiambo as National Assembly representative for Mbita. Unfortunately, the low representation of women in politics is similar across the country with only the Rift Valley and Central provinces being receptive to women’s leadership. However, the number of women MPs remain disturbingly low. “The socio-economic and politi-

cal context still favours men, as does the process of accumulating resources needed to win a critical mass within the political context,” explains Grace Gakii, a social scientist and gender expert.

Minefield Patriarchy and the Single Member District (or the Single Winner Voting), an electoral system that only returns one office holder in a district and or constituency, has made politics too combative for women. However, even within the current electoral system that has been hailed as more sensitive to challenges facing women in politics, there are still fewer gains with the political terrain is largely skewed in favour of men. “The reason why women are not performing well can be attributed to the challenges they face. In Africa, leadership is viewed as masculine and culture has endorsed it,” explains Vincent Kimosop, Executive Director of International Legislative Affairs. Kimosop blames women’s dismal performance on weak financial muscle. In an attempt to narrow the gap between male and female leaders, the Constitution created a provision whose intent is to make political positions more accessible to women. However, says Kimosop: “The af-

firmative action seats worked against women who competed against men. The electorate was being asked why they were electing women while they (women) already had their seats.” According Kimosop there was insufficient civic education to sensitise people on what the Constitution says regarding affirmative action seats. Even though promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 was hailed as the dawn of a new political era for women eyeing elective positions, this has not been the case. “Women were misguided in believing that the political space, under the law, had expanded in their favour. While the law is key, ballot 2013 shows that we still have a long way to go,” Gakii expounds quoting some of the Articles as 27(3), 27(6), 81(b), 177(b) and 197. Article 27 (3) states that ‘women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres’. The article further states that ‘the state shall take legislative and other measures including affirmative action programmes and policies to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination’. Article 81 (b) is even more specific and it unequivocally states that ‘not

more than two thirds of members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender’. “The two midwives of Kenya’s constitution — Committee of Experts and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Review — merely postponed the dilemma of women’s representation instead of spelling out how to effect these provisions,” notes Akoko Akech, a Programme Officer at Society for International Development (SID). Akech further notes that “by implicitly endorsing the single member district constituencies, drafters of the Constitution significantly constrained Kenya’s options on mechanism or formula’s for effecting the provisions on gender equity”.

Representation Although the Kenyan Constitution is the most progressive within the East African Community (EAC), the country lags behind when it comes to representation of women in politics. Kenya is 15 percentile behind EAC’s regional average of 20 per cent women representation as National Assembly representative. This is significantly low compared to Rwanda’s 56 per cent, Tanzania’s 36 per cent, Uganda’s 35 per cent, and Burundi’s 30 per cent. According to Akech, there are two

main reasons for women’s exclusion from higher elective offices. These are Kenya’s patriarchal culture and electoral system. He notes that another problem is that the country’s political contests tend to require an enormous outlay of social capital. “Yet, the processes of economic, cultural and political capital accumulation still favour men more than women, irrespective of ethnic, religious and class divides,” notes Akech. Nonetheless, the irony is that women are key players in politics, more so as voters. “During the campaigns, the candidates had wonderful things that they said they will do for women when elected to power, this was of course to consolidate the women vote,” notes Gakii. She adds: “It is generally accepted that women are a swing vote but it appears women are unable to consolidate their power as an electorate to ensure that more of their own get into positions of power.” The walk towards equal representation will take a little longer than what the women had expected after the Supreme Court failed to determine how the country will be able to achieve the two third gender rule progressively at 2015.


Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013

When voters gave capable women a wide berth …By Odhiambo Orlale


s Kenyans take a stock on the 2013 polls, there is no doubt that women politicians were the biggest losers in the General Election. The women’s movement who had spearheaded the clamour for affirmative action which is entrenched in the Constitution were shocked to find that voters had given them a wide berth. The voters did not consider the impeccable credentials of Martha Karua, Charity Ngilu, Sally Kosgei, Margaret Kamar, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Jebii Kilimo, Beatrice Kones, Peris Simam and Sophia Abdi Noor as attractive. They seem to have been swayed by the political party wave and the coalitions. In an election that was hotly contested, political parties failed to promote affirmative action when they held their primaries despite the Political Parties’ Act having three clauses that stress on gender equity. This virtually locked out women aspirants. Some of the strong women who feel victims to the unfair decisions by voters and the public include: Linah Jebii Kilimo: A leading crusader against female genital mutilation (FGM), Kilimo made history as the first woman to be elected MP in Elgeyo Marakwet County to represent Marakwet East in 2002. She was appointed Minister for Immigration and Registration of Persons. In 2007, she defended her seat on a Kenda ticket going against the wave of the ODM that rode the region and was appointed Assistant Minister for Cooperative Development. In the Tenth Parliament, Kilimo also served as the chairperson of the Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA). In 2013, she defended her seat on a TNA ticket, but was a victim of the URP wave that hit the North Rift region even though both parties were in one coalition. Martha Karua: Very vocal and served for two decades as Gichugu Member of Parliament having been elected. Before she got into politics she served as chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) and League of Kenya Women Voters. Karua who had also worked as a magistrate made history by being the first woman to be appointed as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. She was also the first woman to serve as deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament. She is currently the chairperson of Narc-Kenya. Charity Ngilu: She was the first woman to declare interest in and vie for the presidency in 1997 on a Social Democratic Party ticket. However, that same year the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai also indicated interest in the presidency. They both lost to President Moi, with Ngilu

coming in fourth. Ngilu served as Member of Parliament for Kitui Central from 1992 to 2013, and was a Cabinet minister for 10 years in President Kibaki’s regime, serving in the health and water dockets. Ngilu is the chairperson of Narc Party. She lost her bid to be elected the first Senator for Kitui County to David Musila, a former Member of Parliament for Mwingi South. Dr Sally Kosgei: The immediate former Member of Parliament for Aldai served for one term on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket from 2007-2013. During this period she first served as Minister for Higher Education and later as Agriculture minister. A long serving career civil servant, she also served as Kenya’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom rising to be the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, under President Moi’s administration. Kosgei lost her Aldai seat to the URP wave that hit North Rift. Prof Margaret Kamar: She served as the Member of Parliament for Eldoret East from 2007-2013. During this period she was appointed Minister for Higher Education. Before joining politics, Kamar served as former Deputy Chancellor at the Moi University and principal of Moi University’s Chepkoilel Campus, which has since been upgraded to full university status. Kamar first ventured into politics in mid-1990s when she was picked to be a member of the East African Legislative Assembly. She also participated as a delegate at the National Constitutional Review Conference, also dubbed Bomas II conference. An expert in soil and water conservation of which she holds a PhD from the University of Toronto, Kamar lost her bid to be the first Governor of Uasin Gishu County in the past elections. Wavinya Ndeti: Wavinya (as she was popularly known) is the immediate former Member of Parliament for Kathiani. She first tried her hand in politics in 2007 and won the se on the Chama Cha Uzalendo, a feat she achieved by going against the ODM-Kenya wave that dominated Ukambani region. She was then appointed Assistant Minister for Sports. In the last elections, Wavinya vied for the Machakos gubernatorial seat on the Chama Cha Uzalendo, but lost to former Government Spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, who was nominated by Wiper Democratic Party, under the Cord coalition. However, Wavinya has filed a petition challenging Mutua’s election. She holds a Master of Science degree in Business Analysis and Design from the City University, in London.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru: A renowned tele-evangelist, Wanjiru ventured into politics in 2007 and was elected MP for Starehe on an ODM ticket. She was later appointed Assistant Minister for Housing until 2012, when she opted to vie for Nairobi gubernatorial position but was disqualified for lack of educational papers for the position. Her party then nominated her to vie for the Nairobi Senatorial position which she lost to TNA’s Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi. Sophia Abdi Noor: She joined Parliament in 2007 having been nominated as a Member of Parliament under ODM Party in the August House. She also served as deputy chairperson of the Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) and sat in several parliamentary committees including that of Justice and Legal Affairs as well as the Constitution Oversight Committee. She served as chairperson of the Committee on Labour and Social Welfare. In 1997, she made history as the first woman from the region to vie for a parliamentary seat (Ijara). She bided her time and tried it again in 2013, on a URP ticket but lost. However, she has petitioned the results in court. Noor is one of the founders of the organization WomanKind Kenya that empowers women, promotes girl child education and fights against FGM. Beatrice Kones: Kones was elected Member of Parliament for Bomet following the death of her husband Kipkalya Kones who died in a plane crash in June 2008. She was elected on an ODM ticket and was appointed Assistant Minister for Home Affairs. Late last year, Kones de-camped from ODM to URP to contest for the Bomet County Women’s Representative seat but was knocked out at the party nomination stage. Peris Chepchumba Simam: The immediate former Member of Parliament for Eldoret South, Simam served for one term on an ODM ticket, after she clinched the seat in 2007. She was the vice secretary of KEWOPA during her five-year tenure. However, her attempt to seek a second term on a URP ticket was nipped in the bud during the party nominations. Simam served as a member of the Land and natural Resources Committee and also represented the country at the Pan African Parliament. She was also Vicechair of the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption, Kenya Chapter. Simam is an alumnus of Kenyatta University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Education in Science.

Failure to vote in women catches the eye of observer missions

…By Jane Godia


s Kenyans take stock of the just concluded elections, the glaring gender disparities at all levels of representation have elicited widespread reactions from observer missions. The European Union, Carter Centre and Commonwealth observer groups expressed concern over the minimal number of women who were vying for elective positions. The European Union stated that despite the quota system and constitutional principles for affirmative action, women’s participation as candidates was disapprovingly low. The Carter Centre for International Elections Observation observed that “inspite of a legal framework providing for a solid set of rules to enhance women’s participation in politics”, the numbers were very low. It stated: The quota system, rather than empowering women to fully

engage in the political process as candidates and elected representatives, the reserved seats for women have served to segregate female candidates and to bar them from standing as candidates for any other seat in parliament”. The European Union noted that “inspite of the numerous dispositions aimed at ensuring a better representation of women in public office, it regretted the undermining of the essential component of a modern society that is the promotion of women’s representation in elective positions”. The Union singled out the Political Parties’ Act which contains three significant articles on gender equality but their existence failed to translate to higher political representation for women”. According to the Act (Article 7 (2)), a political party can only be registered if (b) the members . . . reflect regional and ethnic diversity, gender balance and representation of minorities and marginalised groups; (c) the

composition of its governing body reflects regional and ethnic diversity, gender balance and representation of minorities and marginalised groups; (d) not more than two thirds of the members of its governing body are of the same gender. The Commonwealth Observer Group in its preliminary statement noted with concern that the Supreme Court had dealt women a blow by postponing implementation of the two third gender principle that did not

“Inspite of a legal framework providing for a solid set of rules to enhance women’s participation in politics, the numbers were very low.  The Carter Centre

allow more than two thirds of the same gender to hold elective or appointive positions. “Following a decision by the Supreme Court that not more than two thirds of the same gender will be members of an elective or appointive body, it is hoped that future elections will guarantee a more balanced representation.” The European Union in its preliminary statement noted that the constitution principle of providing representation for minority and marginalised communities through the system of special seats has not been fully implemented. It noted: “The lists earmarked for special seats were published late due to the fact that some political parties failed to comply with the legal requirements relating to gender, age, and special interest groups quota.” This was also mentioned by the Women Situation Room, the election observation group that was monitoring and responding real time to the

issues specifically around gender based violence. The Women Situation Room in its final observation noted the desperately low numbers of women who vying and those who were eventually elected. However, the observer groups from Africa, namely Comesa, African Union, East African Community and IGAD did not mention anything to do with the women’s low representation in their reports. The observers gave their verdict as it emerged that the election outcome was a major drawback in the on-going efforts to increase women representation in the political scene. From parliament to the regional assemblies, the elections failed to deliver the much needed increased women representation to at least one third as anticipated in the constitution However, existing laws, political party leadership and greed for power has not made it clear to the electorate on the necessity of electing women.

Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Political Coalitions a danger to women empowerment …By Jane Godia


n 2010, when a referendum was called to determine whether Kenya should adopt the new Constitution, women were ecstatic and voted in large numbers citing their gains as entrenched in the supreme law. However, they were faced with another hurdle as the provisions had to be legislated. Parliament had to enact laws but by the time of going to elections, they had not passed the law that would see not more than two thirds of the same gender elected in Parliament. Questions were raised as to whether the country would be able to marshall enough women to meet at least one third because it was assumed that the two third was for men. On the General Election day on March 4th, women came out in large numbers to vie for the various positions. Despite the low turnout for the top seats such as Presidency and Governor, there were many women who aspired to be Senators, Members of Parliament as well as County Assembly ward and Women representatives.

Numbers However, a challenge came into the fore as parties decided to join forces since it was deemed that one single political party could not garner enough support for the President to win 50 plus one votes. This then saw the formation of Coalition for Restoration of Democracy (CORD), Jubilee, Eagle and Amani alliances. These coalitions brought together political heavy weights as they hoped to bring in the strength of numbers. However, while the Presidential candidate was going to benefit from the coalitions, it was not going to work for individuals as certain factors came into play. One, the coalitions opened the field for competition to more players and women ended up being sacrificed. The issue of regional balancing, bungled nominations and patriarchy ended up being the biggest undoing for women. According to Cyprian Nyam-

His sentiments are echoed by Faith Kasiva, Executive Director Gender and Media Initiative (GEM), who notes that the coalitions actually led to increased competition on an uneven playing field and compounded matters for women because regional balancing came to the fore. “The coalitions brought in more players for the position with different men and women competing for the same seat,” observes Kasiva. She adds: “Regional balancing removed women Ethnicity from the centre to the margins leaving no woman benThis then was made worse by the efitting from the coalitions. coalitions that took a regional and Politician Charity Ngilu with Jubilee politicians led by President Uhuru Kenyatta at a political Women were sacrificed ethnic turn and this saw the tribal rally before the elections. Coalitions are blamed for failure by women to capture more seats in regardless of the party ticket. foundation for party and coalition the March elections. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent In most of the coaliformation. tions, parties agreed that they “Women suffered because of the would dominate a certain area. coalitions. Even if a woman was in a the limelight women in TNA strongwere being asked to step down in For instance, in the Jubilee coalition, it favour of male candidates. strong national party, she ended up hold and by the end of the elections was unilaterally agreed that URP will being affected because the party may the party had six women elected into This was the case with one strong field candidates in the North Rift and not be strong in the region where she parliament. woman who was forced to give up her TNA would not. The same was said for bid for the Nairobi Senatorial position is vying from,” explains Nyamwamu The coalitions as structured in this Central where they agreed that URP giving an example of Lina Jebii Kilimo past election must have been a lesson because leaders from her community would not field a candidate. who was vying with The National to many women. They will need to said they will only support a particular However, this affected strong Alliance (TNA) party in a region that rethink how they can angle themselves coalition if she did not vie, noting that women like Kilimo who was vying on was a United Republican Party (URP) her community culture does not accept within parties and be able to negotiate a TNA ticket in an area seen as Jubilee stronghold. for themselves. women’s leadership. stronghold. “Even in Eastern Province women According to Dr Miria Matembe, According to Joy Masheti, a Speaking at the Women Situation who were strong supporters of Orange a former Member of Parliament in programme officer at the Caucus Room immediately after the results Democratic Movement (ODM) Uganda, Kenyan women were not senfor Women Leadership, societal were announced, Kilimo said that suffered because their party joined sitised enough to make bargains during prejudices came to play in the main alliances with Wiper, which was strong the leading light for URP came to her the formation of coalitions. coalitions. constituency and demanded that they in especially Ukambani region” says “Women should have constituted While men who failed to win only elect people from the party. AcNyamwamu. He notes that TNA was themselves in groups and gone to presinominations with the main party in cording to Kilimo, they did not want seen largely as a party for Central dential candidates and demanded for their areas went to smaller parties the “secrets of their house being shared and won, women who joined the little Kenya and, therefore, those women in positions since they are the biggest bloc by outsiders”. other parties like Narc-Kenya did not of voters,” explains Matembe. known parties that were in the coaliWithin the regional balancing, have a say once the top four carried She notes that women in Kenya tions still failed to win. patriarchy also came to play as women the day. were not sensitised enough to know that Masheti notes that about 99 per they were being cheated. They should cent of women who were nominated have asked all presidential candidates to came in through the big coalitions. “There were strong women who were vying for have women as running mates. “It depended on how the woman political seats but they lost because the party Matembe notes that for women to placed herself within the coalition and nominations were badly carried out.” the value she was bringing in,” Masheti succeed, they must put gender issues as a priority over party interest and observes.  Cyprian Nyamwamu not lobby individually but as a bloc. She says coalitions helped bring to wamu, a political analyst the rains started beating women when the political parties’ primaries were bungled. “There were strong women who were vying for political seats but they lost because the party nominations were badly carried out,” observes Nyamwamu. Giving an example of Nyanza, he says women from the region fell off by the wayside because the party primaries were mismanaged. “Seventy to 80 per cent of women who were aspiring for political positions would have made it if party nominations were credible,” notes Nyamwamu.

Turning elections into a less nightmare for voters …By Ruth Omukhango


f there is one thing Kenyans learnt from the General Election was poor preparation of the voters on dealing with a complex poll. This in the end contributed to the many hiccups that were witnessed. The experience is an indication that the country should start thinking of how to make future elections more user friendly, especially for female voters. The positions of the presidency, governor and Member of Parliament appeared to elicit more interest due to the high publicity they had received. However, many voters did not have sufficient information on other positions such as senator as well as women and county ward representatives as majority were not known to them. Even after the elections, the citizens are still ignorant about the roles of senator, governor and county representatives. “Picking and marking the ballot papers and later casting the votes took

me around 20 minutes. My fear came true on the material day and this was giving IEBC logistical nightmares as well as the voters who had queued for long hours,” says Fredrick Ochieng, a voter in Sarang’ombe ward, who had participated in the mock exercise at Olympic Primary School. His sentiments are echoed by Elizabeth Ndeda, a primary school teacher at Littlerock Primary School in Kibera, who voted at Raila Educational Centre in Kibra Constituency, was on the queue as early as 6.00 am. She was confident about who she would vote for among the top candidates. However, she lacked enough information on women and county ward representatives, coming across the names of the candidates for the first time at the polling centre. “I was confused on who to vote for because I had never seen the candidates campaign,” explains Ndeda. Many voters appeared overwhelmed after they were given six ballot papers on the polling day to vote for president, senator, governor, Member of Parliament as well as county ward and women representa-

tives all at the same time. Besides challenges posed on the number of ballot papers, the colours that adorned the papers were also wanting since they were not sharp enough to be identified. This led to confusion as many voters were unable to clearly identify the colours of the ballot papers and as a result placed ballot papers in the wrong boxes. “Many of the spoilt votes were as a result of lack of a clear distinction of the colours and therefore voters placed the ballot papers in the wrong boxes,” says Alphonce Tambo who was a Returning Officer at Olympic Primary School Polling Station in Kibra Constituency. Despite efforts by the IEBC to conduct voter education through public media, most voters argued that the electoral body should have reached out to them through informal channels of communication. Challenges posed by illiteracy among the voters contributed to delays as those affected had to seek for assistance from IEBC officials and spent more time on the polling booths.

Although Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conducted mock elections as a test run before the General Election aimed at educating Kenyans on how they would vote, the exercise recorded low turnout. This is despite the fact that IEBC had mobilised the necessary machinery for a trial run in 1,450 polling centres. The low turnout was largely blamed on the fact that the exercise was conducted on a Sunday when most people prefer going to church or attending to other family matters. According to Atsango Chesoni, Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the IEBC was not sufficiently prepared to run and observe the elections. She noted that citizens lacked information on the voting process due to late or insufficient voter education. Her sentiments were echoed by Peter Aling’o, Director Institute for Education in Democracy who noted that the lack of information among voters was a “worrying trend”. “It is very worrisome because an uniformed voter will always make

unwise decisions, which is detrimental to democracy and good governance,” Aling’o said. He added: “This poses a danger to the positive gains the devolved government promises to bring in Kenya.” Aling’o blamed the media and government institutions for failing to educate the public about the constitutionally mandated decentralisation of the government. However, James Oswago, IEBC chief executive officer said they carried out voter education in stages to avoid overwhelming the public with too much information. “In November, last year, our voter education was focused on encouraging the public to register as voters. Later our messages were designed to convince voters to check their registration status before we embarked on a full-swing education on the seats up for grabs and the functions of those elective posts,” Oswago explained. Nearly 330,000 ballots were rejected for not following election rules, raising criticism to voter education efforts.


Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Status of Women

Why two third principle must begin now

…By Joyce Chimbi


he promise of the Constitution to expand the political space for women has borne little fruit. This is despite the Constitution entrenching a gender sensitive rule demanding that not more than two thirds of the same gender should occupy public elective or appointive positions. The argument floated by critics of gender equality was that there are not enough women who can take up political decision making positions. Regarding the actualisation of the two third gender rule, the Attorney General turned to the Supreme Court to determine how the gender parity rule is to be operationalised. This was after the women’s movement had moved to Court seeking clarification regarding Article 81(b) of the Constitution which states that “not more than two–thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender”. The ambiguous clause was silent on the manner in which the gender rule would be actualised. The Court, in its decision, ruled that the gender principle enshrined in Article 81 (b) would have to be progressively realised by 2015. However, it is important to note that this ruling only alludes to the National Assembly and Senate positions.

Research At the county level, the Constitution (Article 197 (1)) was explicit that: “Not more than two-thirds of the members of any county assembly or county executive committee shall be of the same gender.” “The Supreme Court ruling threw the spanner into the works and gave political parties a loophole to ignore women,” says Julia Mueni, a woman leader in Machakos County. According to studies done on gen-

der issues in the Great Lakes Region, despite an increase in the number of women in legislative bodies, they continue to be underrepresented in most structures of power and decision making. Many have watched in dismay as the expanded political space has been filled by more men. The challenge for women began with the political party nominations. When the political parties’ primaries were held to nominate candidates to vie for elective positions, it was evident that the political terrain would be rougher for women more than ever before. Male dominated political parties blatantly made a farce of the political space, expanded by the gender sensitive Constitution of Kenya 2010. Unfortunately scores of party tickets went to male aspirants.

Political goodwill The Rift Valley region which in the previous parliament had elected the highest number of women — seven — had the number drop to four this time around and only two were re-elected — Helen Sambili and Joyce Laboso. The rest succumbed to political party and coalitions’ euphoria. However, Rift Valley produced two women from minority tribes, Peris Tobiko (Maasai) and Grace Kipchoim (Endorois), being the first women from their communities to get into the National Assembly. “For the country to have elected fewer women within the context of the most gender sensitive constitution in the world is telling that we are operating in a political context that has very little, if any, political goodwill for female politicians,” says Grace Gakii, a gender activist in Nairobi. Her sentiments are echoed by Hamisa Zaja, a politician in Mombasa who says: “Although there were

Women demonstrating while demanding for the enactment of the gender rule as is entrenched in the constitution. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

more seats for women to compete for, the environment was still not enabling. Women remained under attack from male opponents and even the society.” Despite there being fewer incidents of physical violence and assault against female aspirants, the elections were characterized by verbal abuse and degrading sexual innuendoes. This was the experience of Veska Kangongo when she bid for the gubernatorial seat in Uasin Gishu County. Her rivals kept on saying that the first Governor in the region will be “anything but a woman”. The statement was replayed across the country and consequently and this put off many women leaving only a handful to run for gubernatorial and senate. “Women are not violent by nature and tend to shy away from violence. This means that while the Constitution requires that not more than two thirds of members of elective public bodies should be of one gender, it will be an uphill task before women can get there because of the violence that is inflicted on them be it physical or psychological,” says John Ndeta, Media and Peace Coordinator for the Peace Initiative Kenya project under the International Rescue Committee.

Attitude Zaja notes that besides the society’s negative attitude women are still not able to amass the required resources to hold successful campaigns. “I pulled out of the race for the Governor of Mombasa County under the Wiper Democratic Movement because I did not have the economic muscle required,” Zaja says. Her sentiments are echoed by Jacky Mwaura, a campaign agent who

explains: “This is besides the money required to oil an effective campaign, getting vehicles and fuelling them to facilitate mobility as well as branding among other things.” The issue of money and other resources were very clear in the way certain candidates exposed themselves. It was easy to tell who were the more moneyed just by looking at the kind of branding that was put in place especially among the presidential and governor candidates. When Martha Karua, the only woman presidential candidate said she has only KSh56 million to her name, it was not clear how she would finance her campaign machinery when her most serious rivals were talking of about KSh8 billion campaign budget. This showed that if Karua was going to rely on family resources for her campaigns then she would not be able to compete favourable with her male rivals.

Challenges Other challenges facing women aspirants included the confusion that was created over the women representative position. “The society is anything but supportive. Male politicians successfully incited voters, to push women to vie for the affirmative action seat (women representative),” explains Mueni. This confusion then left the voter thinking that women could only be elected as women representatives and not for the other positions. It also affected the number of women who were elected as county ward representatives as only 84 were voted in out of 1,450. Further, the manner in which campaigns were conducted proved to be a barrier for women. “Men campaign and lobby at

night. A woman isn’t expected to do so. You find that a woman aspirant goes to bed thinking that her position in the party is secure only to wake up to new realities in the morning after men have kept their night vigils,” Zaja explains. Women who attempt to campaign at night are also at risk of rape and other physical harm. They also stand a high chance of breaking their marriages. Education continues to be another problem. When the current crop of women aspirants should have been in school, a good number of them were not offered the opportunity. Many women who are good leaders failed to get the bigger political positions simply because of the education qualifications required. One of the strong woman politicians in Nairobi County, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru found herself locked out of party nominations for the governor at the very last minute for lack of a recognised university degree. “Before she was disqualified, Wanjiru had a massive following and was a threat to many male rivals,” says Mueni. She notes: “However, she is not alone. There were many women who could have vied for the ward representative position but could not simply because they lacked postsecondary education.” Clearly, more than ever before, the results of the General Elections have reaffirmed the perception that the promise held in the Constitution, to expand the political space for women, is still far out of reach for a significantly high number of women who are harbouring political dreams. This will only be successful if the two third gender rule is implemented to the letter and spirit of the new constitution.

Status of Women

The fine legacy of Kenya’s first young female MP …By Evans Kanini


ven though she has been dismissed by some as a pale shadow of her former self, Philomena Chelagat Mutai, the first Kalenjin woman Member of Parliament and a famous politician from Nandi, does not agree. She maintains she is still the same person journalists knew when they highlighted, on a regular basis, her constructive contributions in parliament, as she fearlessly tore into the governments of both the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and retired President Moi, over a wide range of issues. This saw her being detained on several occasions by both regimes. In 1976, she was arrested and sentenced to six months. She was accused of inciting her constituents to invade a sisal plantation at Ziwa. At the time, the media referred to her as “Lakwet (girl)” as she was the youngest legislator in the National Assembly, having been elected at the age of 24 years as the Eldoret North MP in 1974. This made her the youngest person ever to be elected into Parliament. In that particular election she was the only woman among eleven men who were contesting for the Eldoret North seat. Many a times, she was chided by the establishment functionaries for raising several issues that touched on corruption, landgrabbing and political assassinations, which often rubbed the then governments the wrong way. Mutai is best remembered for her vicious contributions in the National Assembly which often drew vitriolic responses from several quarters. A political scientist, Mutai still thinks and dreams politics many years after she left the august House in 1981.


Her disability has not affected her position on key national issues. She remains a firm believer in freedom of expression and strong democratic institutions. It should also be noted that Mutai was viewed as a “traitor” by powerful individuals whom she often differed with as she was not afraid of naming and shaming. Soon after joining parliament, she got steeped in what was largely seen as radicalism in some quarters and established rapport with the trouble-shooting band famously branded the seven bearded sisters comprising Koigi Wamwere, Abuya Abuya who replaced George Anyona, Lawrence Sifuna, Mwashengu wa Mwachofi, late Martin Shikuku, Lawrence Sifuna and James Orengo. That was the group of radical and uncompromising politicians who fearlessly exposed the ills of the state as it struggled to hammer out strategies on how to contain them.

 Chelegat Mutai

Women leaders in Kilifi seek justice …By Adam Juma he general election might have ended about three months ago, but women candidates in Kilifi County are a bitter lot. They want the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to learn from the problems of the last General Elections so that issues that led to their lose are addressed. The candidates claim that the polls were marred by several irregularities that created a loophole for rigging. Led by Esther Kache who vied for the women representative seat on a Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) ticket, the women lament that most male candidates committed several election offences but were not penalised despite the issues being reported to the election body.


They believe their failure to garner votes for various positions that were contested for can be attributed to insecurity and lack of commitment by the IEBC officers. During the interview, Kache claimed that there was laxity by the IEBC officials especially during the transportation of ballot boxes and counting. “Our male counterparts used financial influence to get the votes which is against the code of ethics set by IEBC to candidates,” she noted. The women cited an incident in Kilifi North Constituency where vote-counting was done in two separate areas away from the polling centres.

Reputed lawyer

“These were trumped up charges crafted by government operatives to sound a death knell on my chequered political career.”



In fact, they were referred to as Marxists in parliament particularly by the once-highly powerful Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, out to make Kenya a communist state. Mutai was particularly outstanding and was prepared to die for a cause, astounding both friends and foe, with her realistic and practical approach to issues affecting her constituents and the country at large. Mutai had just graduated from Nairobi University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Public Administration where she posted a First Class Honours. At was at the university that her political activism was refined when she served as editor of the students’ magazine, The Platform. She was critical of the Kanu leadership, which saw her in and out of university before completing her studies to venture into real politics. Later, she met the late Jean Marie Seroney, a reputed lawyercum-politician who was to be her mentor in politics and convinced her to vie for the Eldoret North seat after her uncle William Saina was jailed for incitement. Her stint in parliament was, however, short-lived as she was forced to flee to Tanzania after she was threatened with another jail term for allegedly making false mileage claims in the National Assembly in October 1980. “These were trumped-up charges crafted by government operatives to sound a death knell on my chequered political career,” Mutai says during an interview. She adds: “Someone had realised that I had not reformed and I was to be taken back to prison. I decided to escape to Tanzania where I took my Master’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Dare-Salam,” she says. She came back home in 1984 and took a low profile. Interestingly, Mutai mended fences with Moi and worked with the Kenya

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Chelegat Mutai taking a walk with her grandchild within her compound. Picture: Evans Kanini

Commercial Bank and at the Kanu headquarters as Assistant Director in-charge of publicity. She was appointed secretary to the Standing Committee for Human Rights until 1999. That was her last appointment and as she says, she’s not interested in employment again. Mutai was born at Lessos, Terige Village in Nandi North in 1949. She attended Terige Primary School 1956-1959 and joined the Chepterit Intermediate School from standard Five to Eight between 1960 and 1963. She passed and was admitted to St Joseph’s Chepterit Girls’ School. She passed her ‘O’ and joined Highlands Girls’ (now Moi Girl’s) School Eldoret for her ‘A’ levels in 1968-1969 upon which she was admitted to the Nairobi University in 1970. Mutai was expelled from Highlands for leading a strike against the school authorities and was ordered to write her “A” level examinations from outside. Surprisingly, Mutai shocked the school authorities by passing with flying colours. She graduated in 1974 at the University of Nairobi with First Class Honours despite having been expelled for a year over students’

unrest. She is the mother of one daughter Josephine Chemengich whom she expects will venture into politics one day. “Like mother like daughter,” she believes.

Politically lethal Mutai, who is still politically lethal as she was 30 years ago, admits that she is still a diehard of socialist ideals. Just like the past Kanu regime, she charges that from the time she quit politics, the government has been led by “fascists who believe they know what we want and that what they are doing is right to the end, which as misplaced”. In 2006, Mutai suffered a road accident that damaged her spinal cord. She did not have enough funds to seek proper treatment and suffered in silence until she was rescued by then Prime Minister Raila Odinga on June 22, 2011 when he went to where she was staying in Kasarani with a friend and took her to hospital. Raila was accompanied by James Orengo, Mutai’s contemporary and Fred Gumo and they had her admitted at the Spinal Injury Hospital to enable her get skilled health care.

After the end of the voting, ballot boxes were allegedly first taken to Kilifi IEBC offices and Kenya Forest Service offices in Kilifi before being transported to Pwani University for the final tallying of the constituency. The counting had already started but some politicians convinced the Kilifi North IEBC coordinator to move the counting to Pwani University,” stated Kache. Some of the ballot boxes that had already been opened were transported while open as the seals had already been broken during the first counting.  Expressing similar sentiments, Sophie Kadzo Kombe, who lost the Kilifi County women representative seat blamed IEBC for not living up to its promise of delivering a free and fair election. “I may have lost but it could have been good if IEBC did not leave such loopholes. This raises a lot of concerns on the credibility of the election,” said Kombe.


They further expressed concerns that in future it will be very hard for women to get elective posts if IEBC does not level the playing ground. However, the North Coast region IEBC coordinator Anastasia Mutua denied the claims saying most of the irregularities occurred because of security reasons. “The attack at Chumani, which was our main tallying centre for Kilifi North Constituency was horrific and everybody was in fear. That is why the boxes were transported to Kilifi immediately the voting ended,” explained Mutua. However, the candidates pointed that the attack was just a plan by political “moguls” to frustrate the voting process in that area. Sources at the Kilifi police headquarters revealed that the IEBC had refused to heed advice about the security challenge of the area. The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the police had advised IEBC to shift the tallying centre to another place but they declined to take the advice.


Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Status of Women

Senate nominee puts women empowerment at the heart of her agenda …By Abisai Amugune


n March 21, Catherine Nabwala Mukite was preparing to go to the farm when her cell phone sud-

denly rang. At first Mukite, a resident of Trans-Nzoia County, ignored the call thinking it was one of the callers who had continued to bother her in the run-up to the March 4, General Elections. Mukite, a widow and a mother of five, was not concerned very much with phone calls as she was pre-occupied with the planting season. However, something just made her pick this call and the retired banker and hotelier in Kitale town was a more elated person after listening to the speaker on the other end. She had been nominated as a member of the Senate by Ford-Kenya party.


Initially she thought this was a hoax from one of the political brokers who had invaded the local platform since the electioneering time. Mukite’s happiness was, however, restored when she confirmed from a top official of Ford-Kenya official that she had actually been considered for the nomination slot in the Senate under the CORD banner. “Yes, I had applied for the position as a member of the Ford-Kenya party but I did not know that I would be nominated in the Senate. Many thought that I was not a fully paid up member of Ford-Kenya but now it has dawned on them that this had only been a rumour. I am a bonafide member of the party,” she says from her exclusive Wine Lounge Hotel in Kitale.

Mukite was Ford-Kenya’s nominee for the Senate alongside the Chairman of Luhya Council of Elders Patrick Wangamati who was preferred to the National Assembly. She is among the 16 women nominated to the Senate. Her elevation to the Upper House brings to three the number of women legislators from Trans-Nzoia County. Others are Dr Zipporah Kittony (Senate) and Janet Nangabo (Parliament).


Also in the Senate from TransNzoia County is the former Director of Immigration Henry ole Ndiema who was elected on the Ford–Kenya ticket. But did Mukite receive the nomination on a silver platter? Did she deserve the seat amongst the hundreds of Ford-Kenya women supporters? Mukite says she has been an active Ford-Kenya member since the 2007 polls when she went out of her way to campaign for the party. During the just-concluded March 4 polls, she contributed her vehicles for party campaigns besides financing the campaigns. She attributes her nomination to the Senate to her support for the party alongside the victories of Dr Chrisantus Wamalwa (Kiminini) and Ferdinard Wanyonyi (Kwanza) to the National Assembly and five wards. “This was not a mean achievement in Trans-Nzoia County that is considered to be the zone of the rival New Ford-Kenya party. As things stand now, Ford-Kenya has overtaken New Ford-Kenya,” she notes. Mukite’s entry into the TransNzoia political board revives the memories of the 1990s when her young brother the late Peter Mukite took on the mantle to oppose former

Vice President the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana for the Saboti Parliamentary seat. Since the demise of her brother, the Mukite family kept off politics, leaving the Wamalwa family to dominate the local political scene. This was evidenced with the succession of Kijana by his younger brother immediate former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa. According Mukite, at 69 she does not foresee a prolonged political career except if some of her five siblings will decide to join politics. However, she suspects that her nomination could be a continuation of the career set by her nephew the late Elijah Mwangale.


The Senator says in collaboration with the other elected leaders in Trans-Nzoia County she is going to fight for the release of funds to empower the local women. “Trans-Nzoia women are disadvantaged because they only depend on maize production for survival. What they lack is economic empowerment to diversify their activities,” she says. Mukite is particularly concerned with the dropout rate of the girl-child in the County that faces many challenges such as lack of fees, ignorance, early pregnancies and the long distance covered in accessing learning institutions. “This situation has contributed to poor development of the County,” she observes. Mukite says she has dedicated her Senate salary to improving the status of the woman and girl-child in the

County saying that her pension and earnings from farming are enough to cater for her needs. She says party politics will not bar her from co-operating with Kittony (KANU) and Nangabo (New FordKenya) in highlighting issues affecting Trans-Nzoia residents. “Political party rivalries ceased being relevant after the March 4 elections and we intend to deliver services to the voters,” she says. Mukite lost her husband in 1996 but soldiered on single-handedly after opting for early retirement in 2004 at Barclays Bank where she rose to the position of Branch Manager in Westland. Mukite went to Misikhu Primary School, Limuru Girls’ High School for secondary before joining London Certificate College of Accounts for a degree course. With her banking and risk management experience, she says she has what it takes to participate in hotlycontested debates in the Senate. “With the 26 years of experi-

“Trans-Nzoia women are disadvantaged because they only depend on maize production for survival. What they lack is economic empowerment to diversify their activities.” Catherine Nabwala Mukite

ence in financial management, TransNzoia County is expected to benefit greatly from this,” she says.

Kenyan women should emulate Thatcher in their leadership …By Jane Godia


hen Margaret Thatcher took over as Prime Minister of Britain in 1979, the country had huge problems: industrial strikes were the order of the day and a country in peril. However, she managed to transform this sector and Britain has a whole into an enviable country. Thatcher ruled Britain for the longest time, 1979 to 1990 being the first woman Prime Minister, and serving for the longest period than anyone else in the past 150 years.

Iron Lady

As Thatcher was laid to rest on April 17, many recalled that her toughness had made Soviet Union nickname her the Iron Lady. She was a no nonsense leader and even though she made friends and enemies alike, she made a mark as a woman leader.

Today Kenya has a total 67 women in Parliament. There is no woman Governor but there are nine Deputy Governors and 16 women who were nominated to the Senate and joined by one living with disability and a youth. There are 47 women who were elected as Women Representatives from the counties. When the elections bell rang, six women were nominated to vie for Governor Position, 18 for Senator and 197 for Parliamentary. However, hundreds more were nominated to vie for the County ward representative positions. Out of the 1450 wards only 85 women were elected. While we celebrate the women who were elected, Kenya mourns the loss of a strong crop of women who lost in the elections. These are Martha Karua, Prof Margaret Kamar, Charity Ngilu, Margaret Wanjiru, Peris Simam, Beatrice Kones, Sally Kosgei, and Jebii Kilimo. These were

the strong women of Kenya and Karua was actually nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady’. The only sad thing is that none was replaced by another woman. According to Dr Miria Matembe, a former Member of Parliament in Uganda, the biggest loss for Kenyans is that the women who had already gained political experience lost. “Even though the strong women lost, the new crop must be strong enough to take over from where they left,” notes Matembe. All these women who were elected must prove that they are the Thatchers of Kenya. They must not hide behind numbers and fail to deliver. They have the task of proving to Kenyans who look down upon women’s leadership that they are equal to the task. “There has been no political goodwill to support women at the level of governance in Kenya,” notes Matembe, adding that those who

were running for political positions that needed running mates did not consider picking women as running mates.

Mobilization “It is a shame that only 16 women were elected to Parliament. Those who are there must show they are capable and then they will have an impact in Parliament,” she notes. They must learn the art mobilising support in parliament and prove they are capable. The constitution of Uganda is a good example to quote because it has empowered women to participate in the political process and that is why elected women number 35 per cent. Below the government in Uganda, there are districts. Every District must elect a woman to Parliament. It is through the district constituencies that women MPs’ number has increased.

Kenyan women legislators must not to serve power but hasten to promote gender issues and participate beyond numbers. They must participate to influence policies and programmes and make the laws gender sensitive. Even though the quota system is important, at times it is used to capture and patronise women and then they are unable to influence or oppose Government agenda, especially when it is not gender sensitive. The women who are in Kenya’s national and county assemblies as well as senate, whether elected or nominated must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that women can be outstanding political leaders. They must be able to speak up, and negotiate within and without the national assemblies, senate or county assemblies. They must show that they are the Iron Ladies who can influence change and make a notable difference.

Status of Women

Soipan Tuya election changes perception of women leadership among the Maasai …By Kabia Matega


outhful Soipan Tuya, daughter of former Narok South legislator Samson ole Tuya was the last person to declare her candidature in the race for the Narok County Women’s Representative seat three months to the General Elections. At first, people thought she was a compromise candidate sponsored by individuals who were out to complicate the race that was dominated by women political giants from the County. She was not known in the political arena although it was easy to relate and introduce her through her father’s name. Her political prospects began to rise during the funeral of the late Patricia Parcitau where she was introduced as a friend to the deceased from their days in secondary school and university. Soon after the introduction, mourners began endorsing the youthful lawyers as the best person to replace Parcitau. Days before Parcitau’s Soipan Tuya during her campaigns that led her to capture the seat of women representative, in an election that is changing the death, she was perceived as perception of Maasai community. Picture: Kabia Matega the top contender for the seat despite the politics behind her marital status that she was development. campaigns targeting the community, mittee, Agnes Pareiyo a long serving married to a man from outside the She undertook undergraduate civic leader with the defunct Narok only a handful of women contested County. However, Parcitau managed for elective seats. studies in law at the University of County Council and United Nations to solve the issue and ended up leadNairobi and later on pursued a Mas(UN) woman of the year 2004 courMost female aspirants crowded ing in the contest. ters of Laws degree at the University tesy of her contribution in the fight themselves in the Women Repreof Washington in the United States. against Female Genital Mutilation sentative seat and left the men to Boost (FGM) and early marriage for girls compete for other elective positions Human rights “I promised to follow in the footin the Maasai community. Others and at the end of the elections only steps of Parcitau to endear myself to She has worked in the human were Eunice Marima, wife to former the electorate and keep her fire burn- one was declared winner. rights, gender and access to justice Narok North MP Moses ole Marima The Narok County Women’s ing,” Tuya told the mammoth crowd field with the Ministry of Justice, and Josephine Kimeto, a business Representative seat attracted Agnes in response to their endorsement. Kituo cha Sheria, Mainyoito Pastoralwoman.  Shonko, a career secondary teacher, She further received support ist Integrated Development OrganiTuya is an advocate of the High Janet Nchoko, also a teacher, Lydia from Deputy President and United zation (MPIDO) and the government Court of Kenya with a keen interest Ntimama, a seasonal politician who Republican Party (URP) leader Wiltask force on community land and in public litigation gender integrarose to become the chairperson of liam Ruto who offered to sponsor USAID. tion as a critical tool for sustainable Narok County Council Audit Comher through his party’s ticket. Ruto She is a member of the Law Society had personally attended the funeral to campaign for the youthful lawyer who at the end of the vote count emerged victor with an indisputable margin. Deeply rooted cultural beliefs among the “Maa” community worked against other women aspirants who opted out of the political race. Women are still perceived as second class citizens in Maasailand and only a few have the guts to openly challenge men in any contest lest they are viewed as outcasts in the society. Despite the endless sensitization

of Kenya, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Global Indigenous Women Caucus. During her campaigns, she asked the locals to rally behind her bid saying that she will ensure their voices are heard in the Government. Tuya noted that women are important in the society and that they should be given equal share of leadership positions. The new Women Representative pledged to initiate development projects and further involve women in project development.

“I promised to follow in the footsteps of Parcitau to endear myself to the electorate and keep her fire burning.”  Soipan Tuya

Male politicians perfect the art of insults against female leaders …By Joseph Mukubwa


omen political aspirants in the just concluded General Elections and those now operating in the counties are share one thing in common: intimidation, propaganda, and insults by their male opponents. Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) laments

that the trend is pathetic as women too have a right to be elected by the voters. Speaking during the Nyeri Town Constituency cluster forum held at the Nyeri town CDF hall, the association facilitator Mallo Nasirumbi said there were many challenges including cultural beliefs that discouraged women from vying for the political seats. “Although there were a few

cases of direct physical attack against women candidates, there were many challenges faced by those who contested for the seats,” noted Nasirumbi. She revealed that some organisations have pledged to support women in their quest for political leadership. “We are in the process of creating awareness among women politicians to help build their capacity,” she said.

She stressed the need to educating the girl child adding that this should be the responsibility of every woman. During the just concluded General Elections, no woman was elected either as County Representative, Governor or Senator. The forum that addressed violence against women in the electoral process was attended by 100 women and opinion leaders.

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Women to watch in national, senate and county assemblies …By Odhiambo Orlale


he political terrain proved tough for women vying for political positions in the just concluded general elections. However, there were those who held on through the bumpy road and won elective seats. The 16, who were elected to the National Assembly (Parliament) and their colleagues who were nominated to the Senate, lobbied their party officials and colleagues effectively and ensured that two of them were elected to senior and influential positions within the corridors of power. In addition to the 16, there are 47 women county representatives who were elected to sit in the National Assembly as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The most senior post held by the women in the male dominated National Assembly is that of Deputy Speaker held by Dr Joyce Laboso, who is also the Sotik MP. She is the first woman to occupy the powerful and coveted office since independence.

House business

Laboso is serving her second parliamentary term having been re-elected on a URP ticket. In the Tenth Parliament, she was one of the temporary deputy speakers who would handle house business when the speaker is not there. The second most powerful woman in the august House is Dr Naomi Shabaan, elected deputy majority leader in the National Assembly. She is a former Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs and Social Development. A dentist by profession, Shabaan is serving her third term as Taveta MP. The Senate has 16 women among the 67 members. The 16 women leaders are among the 20 nominated members by the Jubilee, Cord and Amani coalitions. There was no woman elected to the Senate. Secretary General of APK, an affiliate of the Jubilee Coalition, Beatrice Elachi is the chief whip. Meanwhile, nine women professionals are deputy Governors having been appointed running mates. All the 47 governors are men. Although they will not sit in the national assemblies, they will guide business at the county assembly level. They are Adelina Mwau (Makueni); Susan Chepkoech Kikwai (Kericho); Ruth Odhiambo Odinga (Kisumu); Hazel Ezabel Nyamoki Ogunde (Mombasa) and Fatuma Mohamed Achami (Kwale). The others are Mary Ndiga Kibuka (Taita Taveta); Dorothy Nditi Muchungu (Embu, Evelyn Chepkurui (Narok) and Penina Malonza (Kitui). Equally powerful and influential women are the three who were elected as County Assembly Speakers in the 47 Counties. They are Ann Adul (Kisumu), Susan Wakarura Kihika (Nakuru) and Anne Wangechi Githinji (Kirinyaga).


Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Pre-election agreement denies Kisii County assembly woman speaker …By Ben Oroko


atherine Manzi Kasyoka, the only female Ward Representative in the Kisii County Assembly, lost her bid for the County Assembly Deputy Speaker’s position following a pre-election agreement that shared out the County seats among the six clans which constitute Kisii County. Kasyoka, who won the Machoge-Bassi Ward Representative’s seat on a Kenya Social Congress (KSC) ticket, lost to Evans Omwansu of The National Alliance (TNA), who is the Bogetenga Ward Representative. She managed to garner 11 votes while Omwansu bagged 25 votes in an exercise presided over by the County Speaker, Samuel Ondieki at the Assembly Hall. In an exclusive interview with the Kenyan Woman, Kasyoka revealed that her bid for the seat was hampered by a pre-election agreement to share equally the County’s top positions among the six clans. Her bid was further complicated by the fact that she was the only female candidate in an assembly dominated by male members. “I was psychologically prepared for the outcome since there was intense lobbying among members of South Mugirango clan who wanted to be supported for the Deputy Speaker’s position, claiming other clans had benefited from other top County positions,” she notes. Kasyoka hails from Bomachoge clan which according to the ODM’s pre-election power sharing formula had been assigned the position of the Deputy Governor which went to Dr Joash Maangi. The ODM leadership in the County had prior to the March 4, General Election drafted an informal power sharing pact of the top six seats among the County’s six clans. According to the pact, the Bobasi clan was rallied behind Chris Obure who won the senator’s seat while Kitutu clan benefitted from the Governor’s position that went to James Ongwae. Nyaribari clan was allocated the County Assembly Speaker’s seat which was won by Kisii lawyer Samuel Ondieki. Bonchari clan on the other hand won the position of Kisii County Women Representative through Mary Otara. In the power sharing pact, South Mugirango clan was earmarked the County Chief Executive Officer’s position. The clan has in addition won the County Assembly deputy Speaker’s position.

Why Nyanza women performed badly in March elections …By Valentine Atieno


he political wave that swept Nyanza region pushed women politicians to the periphery, despite the constitution requirement of one third women representation for various elective seats. Were it not for the constitutional provision on the nominated seats, there would only be a handful of women in parliament and none in the senate. But thanks to the provision, Nyanza region now has gender representation in both Parliament and the Senate. Women aspirants who fell by the wayside have revealed why they did not succeed in their various bids. Speaking to Kenyan Woman, Nyanza female candidates who contested for different positions in the just concluded General Election blamed party politics for their dismal performance. Nyanza was a Coalition for Reform and Development (CORD) stronghold and therefore, majority of the strong candidates were contesting on Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper or Ford Kenya tickets.


According to Grace Akumu who was aspiring for the Nyakach parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket, the party did not support women candidates. Akumu claims to have submitted her complaints three times to ODM’s dispute resolution mechanism at the national level but no official communication has been made to her to date. “I am a party official on the ground and I worked very hard to grab the seat but to no avail. I spent a lot of resources in the constituency but all this has gone to waste. Had the elections been fair and free as they call it, I would be the Member of Parliament given that this was my second attempt for the position and the party cannot even nominate me,” said Akumu. Another challenge pointed to lack of resources by female candi-

Grace Akumu (left) speaking to Grace Mbugua, Executive Director, Women's Empowerment Link (WEL) as another woman leader looks on. Picture: Henry Owino dates to marshal any meaningful campaign. “The male candidates use a lot of money to buy voters and this was a major challenge to us because we were out to sell our policies to voters not to buy them,” said Akumu. She added: “The issue of intimidation was at the peak in the campaign trail and this led to fear of being sidelined by the electoral process.” According to Ruth Odinga, who is the Deputy Governor Kisumu County, members of the public should change the way they view women candidates and acknowledge the leadership of a woman more so in Nyanza. “There were times you would go to a campaign rally and the voters would demand to see your husband but that same question was not posed to the male candidates who may even be single. Voters should focus on individuals and their policies,” reiterated Odinga.


The party could have nominated women for the positions of Member of Parliament, Senator or Governor from Nyanza to add to the number of the women representatives. “Although women translated to a majority of voters in the just

concluded General Election, very few sailed through as candidates and it is not because women did not vote for fellow women but that the party failed them,” observed Akumu. She noted: “They did not practice what was in their manifestos, it was all about the highest bidder and not the person who was loyal and committed to the party.” Odinga says; “I was definitely denied the chance of becoming a Governor because of my relation with the party leader, not that I cannot deliver but because of the male dominance and a lot of political propaganda.”


Nyanza has blocked out women leadership and those who got nominated even within the smaller political parties hardly stood a chance against the stereotyping. “The experiences I had in the campaign trail with the older folks was traumatizing. They have had men as leaders in their whole lives and when a woman presents herself, she has to contend with lot of propaganda that at times becomes difficult to deal with,” said Rosa Buyu who lost the Kisumu West Constituency parliamentary seat. Buyu noted that she had to go around the whole constituency trying to defuse propaganda instead of

articulating her policies and selling her agenda to the people. “There is a certain clique who could sit somewhere and tell the voters lies about me in a bid to fight me politically. I had to clear all this to restore the voters’ trust which took a lot of my time,” noted Buyu. Another challenge was that the party top officials were not there to campaign for the female candidates as they did for the men. “In as much as I was given the nomination certificate, I struggled alone to clinch the seat not even one official from the party gave me support by coming to campaign for me leave alone providing any financial support,’ said Buyu adding “this was a clear indication that they were not ready for women leaders”. The Kenyan Human Rights Commission also documented the intimidation of female candidates in the run-up to the election. “There was the aspect of women candidates being threatened to be stoned, hired youths shouting at the woman candidate, manhandling them and even went to an extent of threatening the voters, telling them that there are some women who will face their husbands wrath because of their choice at the ballot,” said Julie Kingsland of the commission.

Women politicians call for fair treatment to all contestants

…By Adam Juma


omen candidates who lost in Kilifi County have called on the Independent Electoral Boundary Commission (IEBC) to ensure they receive a fair hearing as they challenge the outcome of the elections.  The women claimed that the last General Election was marred by several irregularities that created room for rigging.   Led by Kilifi County Women Representative candidate on a Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) ticket Esther Kache, they claimed that most male candidates committed several election offences but were not penalized despite the matters

being reported to IEBC. In an exclusive interview with Kenya Woman, Kache noted that there was laxity on the part of IEBC especially during the transportation of ballot boxes and counting. “Our male counterparts bribed voters openly to influence the electorate which is against the code of ethics set by IEBC to candidates,” she revealed. They cited an incident in Kilifi North constituency where voter counting was done in two separate areas away from the polling centers. After the end of the voting, ballot boxes were first taken to Kilifi IEBC offices and Kenya Forest Service (KWS) offices in Kilifi before being transported to Pwani University for

the final tallying. “The counting had already started but some politicians convinced the Kilifi North IEBC coordinator to move the counting to Pwani University,” added Kache. She said that some of the ballot boxes had already been opened when they were moved to Pwani University, thus creating room for rigging.

Delivery Sophie Kadzo Kombe who also lost the Kilifi County Women Representative seat blamed IEBC for not living up to its promise of delivering a free and fair election. “I may have lost but it could have been good if IEBC did not leave such

loopholes. This raises a lot of concern on the credibility of the election,” said Sophie. They further said that more women lost during the polls due to the uneven playing field. North Coast region IEBC coordinator Anastasia Mutua said most of the irregularities occurred because of security reasons. “The attack at Chumani which was our main tallying centre for Kilifi North constituency was horrific and everybody became afraid and that is why the boxes were transported to Kilifi immediately after the voting,” said Mutua. However, the candidates pointed that the attack was just a plan by political hirelings who wanted to make sure

voting did not take place in the area. “This was a plan by a few politicians to instill fear among the voters which IEBC and the police must ensure does not happen again,” said Naomi Cidi. Sources at the Kilifi police headquarters revealed that the IEBC had refused to heed advice about the security challenge of the area. The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the police had advised IEBC to shift the tallying centre to another place but declined to take the advice. Most of the women attributed their failure to garner votes to the rising cases of insecurity and lack of commitment by the IEBC officers.

Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Mary Emasse sets her agenda for Teso South

…By Gilbert Ochieng


ary Emasse Otucho (Pictured), former senior accountant at the Judiciary has every reason to smile after she was elected as the first female Member of Parliament in Teso since independence. The MP who contested for the seat under the United Republican Party ticket (URP) ticket beat all odds to clinch the Teso South Parliamentary seat. She garnered 13,623 votes against her closest rival 11,923 votes in the race that attracted four male contenders. The journey to Parliament has been long for Emasse who attended Aterait Primary School in 1976 before she moved to Morukamosing Primary School in class three (1978) where she finally sat for her Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examina-

“I also underwent a refresher course on Operational Project Planning in Dar-es- Salaam sponsored by Setty M. International INC,” she explains. The legislator also served as a director at the former Sheria Sacco for a period of three years, One Touch Designers, Pluto Ways Dry Cleaners Limited, Newcastle Restaurant and Sapphire Director GNLD International.

tion in 1982 and managed to score 26 points out of 36.

Education The MP did her ‘O’ levels at Chakol Girls’ High School. Between 1989 and 1992 and then joined Kenyatta University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting Option). Upon graduation, Emasse worked briefly with Joginder Motors before she joined the Judiciary as an accountant. Prior to resigning from Machakos Law Courts to contest for the political seat, Emasse had worked in Nairobi, Mombasa and Bungoma among other stations. She undertook courses on succession planning, leadership and management, prudent financial management, programme based budgeting, leadership and training, Anti-Corruption and Change


Management, strategic planning, GTI Computer Based Appropriation Accounts, HIV/Aids Control and Prevention and a course on Women in Management among others.

She also had the opportunity to serve as a Treasurer at Mahakama Football Club and a patron of AMOO Youth Group, an umbrella organisation comprising five youth groups in Teso South besides being a member of the District Education Board in Teso. Emasse also served as a member of the Board of Governors at St Peters Aterait Secondary school, Asing’e

Secondary School and Chakol Mixed Secondary School. Her hobbies include football, hockey, politics, reading and traveling. The MP says now that she has officially been sworn-in as Teso South legislator, her first task would be to push for the tarmacking of Busia–Malaba road which she notes has been in a pathetic state ever since despite records at the headquarters showing that the said road is already tarmacked. She also expects to push to ensure that the area has adequate health facilities. “I plan to support projects in the education sector to ensure that pupils access quality basic education,” she notes. Emasse intends to work closely with women in the district and ensure that they are empowered economically through access to loan facilities.

Mary Kibuka: Development expert to help manage Taita …By Benson Mwanga


hile the women who attempted to vie for the position of governor in the 47 counties failed to make it, some of those who were running mates were successful because the frontrunner won. Out of the 47 counties, nine have women as deputy governors and one of these is Taita Taveta. One of these women is Mary Ndigha Mwanyumba Kibuka, who is serving as the Deputy Governor in Taita Taveta County. Despite coming from a political family, Kibuka has always kept away from the political limelight. She has always maintained a private life and intimates that at first she was reluctant to join active politics until she was convinced by the John Mtuta Mrutu to be his running mate.

Development Initially Kibuka wanted to contest for the position of women representative. However, Mrutu who was inspired by her passion in development convinced her to become his running mate. “I was first approached by Ambassador Mwanyengela Ngali and Wisdom Mwamburi who were competing with Mrutu for the gubernatorial seat but I declined,” discloses Kibuka who is 61-years-old. She refused offers from three aspirants and joined Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and finally became Mrutu’s running mate. She became interested in Mrutu’s candidature because many people widely talked well of him. “The new Governor is a clean and respected man. Nobody has ever broken his academic record at Kenyatta National School in Mwatate,” notes Kibuka. She says they were able to delivers as a team within the CORD alliance because of good campaign strategies. "We split ourselves into groups

during the campaigns to ensure that we reached out to every voter and that is why we delivered more votes to the Cord Presidential candidate Raila Odinga,” Kibuka explains.

Taveta County as Deputy Governor

Water Aid, United Kingdom. In Tanzania, she worked as a research fellow with International Development Research centre in Ottawa Canada and as a secondary school teacher in Molepolole and Gaborone respectively in Botswana Resources South Africa. She notes that women poliIn Kenya she worked both ticians performed poorly in the as a regional and programme General Election due to lack of manager for the Kenya Water resources, funding by political for Health Organisation parties and community sup(KWAHO). She was also a port. She says cultural bias also lecturer at the Karen College worked against them and there of the Ministry of Health. was a lot of intimidation by male Prior to her current appoliticians. The women, Kibuka pointment, she worked as a says, also had poor campaign consultant in rural developstrategies that contributed to ment infrastructure, commutheir dismal performance. nity development, gender and “Some women were not development and development prepared and lacked resources education related fields. and strategies despite being Kibuka is well versed qualified for the various politiwith rural project planning cal seats,” notes Kibuka. especially with participatory Noting that education stanrural appraisal methodology, dards in the region have gone monitoring and evaluation of down, she says they will strive projects and primary health to improve both boys and girls care issues. Taita-Taveta County Deputy Governor Mary Ndigha Kibuka being sworn in by Wundanyi Acting education. She attended Sungululu Principal Magistrate K I Orenge as the County Executive committee for Lands. "We will improve both boys Primary School in Wundanyi Picture: Benson Mwanga and girls education and we have division from 1960 to 1966. to start at the early childhood and entering politics was just a fluke. national development organisations She then proceeded to Murray education stage. We also intend to In pursuit of her varied professional including the United Nations. Girls’ High School Wusi in Mwatate develop a reading culture to the local expertise, Kibuka is widely travelled Half of this period she spent District from 1967 to 1970. community,” she explains. with a vast international exposure specifically in the sectors education, She attended Kenya High School Noting that Taita Taveta County from many countries. water and sanitation as well as gender Nairobi from 1971 to 1972 for ‘A’ is endowed with enormous natuInternationally she has worked in levels and later joined Kenyatta and community development both as ral and human resources, Kibuka Liberia, West Africa with the United a senior manager and a consultant. College then a constituent college of reiterates that it has the region has Nations Development Programme Kibuka’s passion is development the University of Nairobi where she the capacity to generate more revenue (UNDP) as a Country (Provincial) graduated with a Bachelor of Educafor economic growth and poverty coordinator of the Community Based tion and Home Economics. alleviation. Recovery Programme (CBRD). “Some women were not After working for some time, she Kibuka is the first born child of went to the University of Manchester’s Profession the late Dawson Mwanyumba who prepared and lacked Institute of Science and Technology She has also worked with the was a Member of Parliament of Taita resources and strategies (UMIST) and Institute of DevelopUnited Nations Drug Control ProTaveta and Cabinet Minister shortly despite being qualified ment Policy Management (IDPM) gramme in Lao PDR South East Asia after independence. 1990 to 1991 and attained a Master as a Coordinator and Community Before joining politics, Kibuka for the various political of Science Degree in Management Development and Gender Specialist. had a work experience spanning seats.” and Implementation of Development She also served as a Resident 35 years in public service and civil Advisor in Tabora, Tanzania with the society. She also worked with inter Mary Ndigha Mwanyumba Kibuka Projects (MIDP).


Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Status of Women

Kenya doing badly compared to rest of Africa

…By Faith Muiruri


enya continues to rank poorly in the level of women representation in elective seats with the just concluded General Elections serving to affirm gender inequalities in the country. An analysis of numbers from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the just concluded elections reveals that out of the total of 197 women who vied for a National Assembly seat only 16 made it to parliament. This figure compares very poorly to 1,908 men who vied for the same position and 274 made it to the House. However, it is imperative to note that, affirmation of gender inequalities in politics begun long before March 4 since only a paltry 197 women vied against 1,908. Comparing the total percentage of women who made it to the National Assembly to that of men, one notices a glaring discrepancy. The 16 women who were elected represent a paltry 12 per cent of the total women who vied for a parliamentary seats and accounts for a mere five per cent of members of the National Assembly. At the county representative level, 623 women vied and only 85 were approved by voters. The same position attracted 9,287 male contestants, where 1,365 were elected, leaving women to account for less than six per cent of the county ward representative seats.

Women leadership Unfortunately no woman made it for the senate seat or governor position. Only one woman contested the Presidential race against seven men and performed dismally. These results sent a clear message that Kenyans are not yet ready for women’s leadership. According to Jennifer Masis who lost the Endebess National Assembly seat “the campaign tactics used by male aspirants encouraged voters to isolate women candidates, and therefore, majority were relegated to the women representative seat”. This is despite the fact that gender conscious interventions have now been entrenched in the Constitution. Article 27(3) of the Constitution provides that both women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. Article 27 (6) directs that the state shall take legislative and other measures including affirmative action programmes and policies to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination. However, the level of women representation in elective politics is sparingly low. According to Prof Wanjiku Kabira the electoral outcomes are a clear indication that the affirmative action clause is a critical component towards realization of the two thirds gender rule. “Women lobbied heavily and helped draft the new Constitution which has entrenched the affirmative action clause and guaranteed an additional 47 seats for women from the counties without which the numbers in the National Assembly would be wanting,” explains Kabira. However, according to Charles Ouma of the Kenya Human Rights Commission most countries that

Women members of the National Assembly and Senate joined women from civil society organisations in a two day consultative forum to look at the agenda of advancing women’s rights. Despite gender conscious legislation, Kenya lags behind her neighbours in terms of gender equality at decision making levels. Picture: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

have achieved significant increases in women’s political participation have embraced the use of quotas. Worldwide, about 30 of the world’s more than 190 countries apply some form of quotas for women in politics. There are three main quota systems in Africa namely the constitutional, electoral law and the political party. Some countries, including Kenya, Burkina Faso and Uganda have constitutional provisions reserving seats in national assembly for women. Election law quotas are written into national legislation, as is the case in Sudan while in the case of political party quotas, parties adopt internal rules to include a certain percentage of women as candidates running for office. This is the case with the governing parties in South Africa and Mozambique. “Gender quotas are now increasingly viewed as an important policy measure for boosting women’s access to decision-making bodies throughout the world,” explains Ouma.

Chamber of Deputies are elected as follows: 53 members elected by direct universal suffrage through a secret ballot but using a closed list of Proportional Representation, 24 women two from each province and from the City of Kigali by an electoral college with a women only ballot; two members elected by the National Youth Council and one member elected by the Federation of the Association of the

Quotas A report on the Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) reveals that over 20 countries on the continent have either legislated quotas or political parties have adopted them voluntarily. Among countries that have registered remarkable progress in the level of women’s representation through quotas include Rwanda which accounts for the highest number of female representation at 56.3 per cent. According to Prof Jill Ghai, a legal expert on constitutional matters, the government of Rwanda has enforced the gender rule in the constitution (Article 9 (4)) which accords at least 30 per cent of positions in decision making to women. The 80 members of the

“Women lobbied heavily and helped draft the new Constitution which has entrenched the affirmative action clause and guaranteed an additional 47 seats for women from the counties without which the numbers in the National Assembly would be wanting.”  Wanjiku Kabira

Disabled (Constitution Article 76). In Tanzania, women account for 36 per cent of representation in Parliament. Ghai explains that Tanzania has adopted a system where every political party which contests for Parliamentary elections must propose and submit to the Electoral Commission names of eligible women candidates for nomination as Members of Parliament for special seats as stipulated in the Elections Regulations 2010, Article 67 (1). As at January 2012, there were 350 members in the National Assembly of whom 126 are women. Seven additional members can be appointed by the President. Of the 126 women, 21 are directly elected from constituencies, 102 elected under special seats for women, two (of a total of five) from Zanzibar and one is appointed as Attorney General. In Uganda the level of women representation stands at 35 per cent. Ghai points out that the Parliament of Uganda is comprised as follows: 238 Constituency Representatives; 112 District Women Representatives, previously indirectly elected but since 2006 elected by all voters on a special ballot in each district for women candidates only; 10 Uganda People’s Defence Forces Representatives of whom two must be women. Among the five youth representatives, five persons with disabilities, five representatives of workers, there must be at least one woman for each respective group. In South Africa and Mozambique, for example, women hold 30 per cent of the seats in parliament — matching the international target. Women’s representation in national parliaments across sub-Saharan Africa equals the world average of about 15 per cent. Ghai points out that the Frelimo Party in Mozambique has used gender quotas since 1994. The party’s policy requires that 40 per cent of candidates

to national assembly and local government should be women. In addition, the quota system was accompanied by a commitment to balance the distribution of men and women through the list. Currently Frelimo holds 191 seats out of 250 seats in the national assembly. “They have proportional representation system which makes it much easier for women to be placed in the list as it has been done in Kenya through the Party lists under Article 90 of the Constitution,” Ghai explains. In Burundi where the level of women representation stands at 30.5 per cent, the gender rule is entrenched in Article 164 of the 2004 Constitution which assigns a 30 per cent quota for women in Parliament. Article 38 (3) of the electoral code stipulates that lists must take account of the gender balance, and Article 147 demands that “one in four candidates must be a woman”. “If the quota regulations are not met, a process of co-optation will follow, where the electoral administration adds more members to Parliament to meet the quota. No sanctions are imposed on political parties that do not apply to the quota provision in the electoral law,” observes Ghai. However, Deborah Okumu Executive Director Caucus for Women Political Leadership is optimistic that even the small numbers of women in the National Assembly can still play a more robust role. “The women MPs can form cross party platforms to help them unite beyond party lines and rally around a common agenda,” Okumu suggests. She says that women should use their numbers to push parties to address women concerns at all levels of representation adding that the women’s agenda should not be subverted by other considerations such as party and ethnic interests.

Status of Women

Madame Speaker Susan Kihika beats 13 rivals to become Nakuru County Assembly leader

…By Gladys Moraa


he is one of the three women who on March 19 were elected as the first speakers in the newly created county assemblies in the 47 counties across the country. Susan Wakarura Kihika, daughter to the late powerful Nakuru politician Dixon Kihika Kimani beat many odds to secure the position of speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly. Kihika had lost her bid to secure The National Alliance (TNA) ticket to contest for the Bahati parliamentary seat during the party primaries but that did not dampen her spirit. “I still had the passion to serve the people and decided to contest for the Speaker’s position. I am so elated because this time round, they endorsed me for the speaker’s position which still guarantees me an opportunity to serve my people with the same vigour,” she notes. Kihika went to Busara Forest View Academy in Nyahururu before she joined Bishop Gatimu Ngandu in Nyeri for her ‘O’ levels. She later enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science at the University of Nairobi before heading to University of North Texas.


Kihika has a Doctorate from Southern Methodist University School of Law located in Dallas, Texas in the United States of America (USA). Her legal expertise cuts across immigration, criminal and family cases. “I served as an Assistant District Attorney in Texas in the County of Dallas. I have also held the office of the Chief Felony Prosecutor in the same county and handled hard hitting cases,” says Kihika. Through her law firm, Kihika and Company Advocates which she founded in 2009, she has been able to serve as a defence attorney representing clients in court. “I have engaged the United States government in immigration cases that involve Africans, Mexicans and other races as a defence attorney through the firm which I founded in 2009,” explains Kihika who enjoyed overwhelming backing with The National Alliance (TNA). Since her childhood, the mother of two daughters aged 15 and 13, says she has always nurtured an ambition to join politics. Her father, Kihika Kimani is remembered as the only Member of Parliament who served in three different constituencies including Nakuru North, Laikipia West and Molo. “I was inspired by the desire to use politics as a platform to change the lives of people,” says Kihika. Her choice for the legal profession, she says, was informed by virtue that legal information and knowledge would be applied in every field. “Law is versatile and I knew that as much as I could use it in litigation, it could as well be applied in politics,” she explains. Her interaction with people both locally and internationally, has enabled her understand the diverse needs of the people. This is what inspired her to come back home in 2012 to seek the Bahati Parliamentary seat on a TNA ticket. She believes her experience in the law courts will come in handy as she sets out to engage in policy making, governance and democratic rulings at the county assembly. As the first Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly, Kihika takes note of the weighty responsibilities that await her alongside the high expectations by the residents. However, she reaffirms her commitment to uphold the law and do her work without

Issue Number 37 • June 2013


Retrogressive culture blocked women from elective leadership


…By Maurice Alal ost women across the country failed to clinch various elective seats not because they are incapable to lead but due to culture and violence among the communities. For many years, women have been looked down upon as housewives with some communities insisting that they cannot be allowed to sit in decision making platforms. In Nyanza region, most women lost various seats in areas they vied since they were deemed as people who cannot lead. According to Luo culture, a woman who has attained the age of marriage is referred to as migogo, meaning a lady who has been married somewhere). This norm barred many women from clinching seats they were vying for as it was a campaign tool used by male opponents. “How can migogo come and lead the community in her homeland where she is born,” one of the aspirants was quoted saying during the campaigns. However, all this did not stop one Millie Odhiambo Mabona, Member of Parliament for Mbita Constituency who turned around this notion to clinch the seat. Mabona was born in the area but married elsewhere. “People told me all sorts of things, insults and abuse to step down from politics,” says Odhiambo adding these challenges kept her going strong. Odhiambo notes that some women were sexually harassed by men as some had their breast touched without their consent.


“I was inspired by the desire to use politics as a platform to change the lives of people.”  Susan Wakarura Kihika

fear or favour. Nakuru County Assembly constitutes of 47 male and only eight women ward representatives. Of the 55 seats, TNA has taken 39 while United Republic Party (URP) has nine. Orange Democratic Party (ODM) has three seats while Mazingira Green Party, Kenya African National Union, United Democratic Forum and the Grand National Unity (GNU) share the remaining four. Asked how she managed to convince the men to vote for her instead of any of the 12 men and one other female lawyer in the race, Kihika says her agenda was clearly spelt out.


“I relied mainly on regional balancing, gender factor and my competence. Most of those who won top positions in the County during the elections were from the neighbouring constituencies and secondly there are few women in the assembly,” she explains adding “I have knowledge and skills to take up the position”. Kihika expresses her satisfaction to the men’s willingness to change and give women a chance to lead. Her election is a major step towards achieving the affirmative action in the country.

“I am happy that men are embracing women as leaders. They heed to my voice of reason that giving the girl child education is not enough if you deny her the opportunity to use the education,’’ she affirms. Kihika who describes herself as industrious, humble, easy going and resilient assures Nakuru County residents of a leadership that will spur the region into greater heights of development. “I am going to work with everybody, regardless of whether they voted for me or not and the party they belong to. I will be impartial and deal with issues pragmatically without any third party interference. My work will be to promote and not hinder developments in the county,” Kihika reiterates.


During her first 100 days in office, she will set up structures for capacity building to sensitize county ward representatives on their duties and roles, house standing orders and mechanisms of formulating relevant policies. This will enable her to focus on the needs and aspirations of the electorate and hence commit towards improving their lives. She promises to hasten the enactment of crucial bills that are significant to the County’s social development, economic growth and political stability. “I will also promote public participation in the assembly proceedings and intend to encourage the public to present memoranda and use other legally recognised avenues,” she notes. Though the assembly is dominated by TNA County representatives, Kihika says she will not allow the majority to oppress the minority.

She said that women venturing into politics should discuss the same with their spouses and children as charity begins at home. “My husband was very supportive during my campaigns as he was driving me in the entire Mbita Constituency where I was born,” she said. Speaking during colloquium on Democracy, Governance and Leadership at a Kisumu hotel, Odhiambo says women spend a lot of money after long struggle to pay for nomination fee to political parties only to be disappointed. However, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender and Children, Prof. Jacqueline Oduol says many times women have been only linked to kitchen chores with traditions blocking them to seek the leadership of this nation. Speaking during the same forum, Siaya Women Representative Dr. Christine Ombaka notes it is high time women came out strongly to seek leadership in this country as it is their right. “It is encouraging that the culture of women being incapable is dying,” Ombaka says adding that culture is dynamic and women should be at the forefront when it comes to leadership. However, Ombaka would like the government to put in place measures to address Gender Based Violence (GBV) especially to women across the country. “Women were attacked by their competitors in the last election. Some were even threatened with death from their rivals with most of them opting out of the race,” Ombaka notes.


Status of Women

Issue Number 37 • June 2013

Land has its owners and those are not women! …By Patricia Kaimeri-Mbote The Ogiek, Endorois, Sengwer, Maasai, Yaku, Batwa and Hadza’be are just a few examples of communities fighting for the recognition of their rights. Amidst their calls, however, is deafening silence on the right of women to the land within the communities. Women fight alongside their communities for land rights but their concerns are quickly forgotten when the communities get the rights sought. While land is critical to one’s citizenship or belonging to a group, narratives on communities’ quest for recognition and protection of their rights to land and related resources, has tended to overshadow the quest for rights by weaker members of the communities such as the youth and women. Yet it is clear that the rights — ownership, control and access — of members to community land are not equal and the quest for community rights’ recognition takes precedence over all other identities within the community.


This is attributable in part to the fact that rights to land are predicated on membership to a given community, functions relating to the land and the performance of reciprocal obligations owed to others in the community. For women, membership to society is a thorny issue as they are perceived to be transient from their parents’ homes awaiting marriage while they never fully belong to the community into which they are married. Customary, statutory and religious laws seem to conspire to relegate women to an inferior position where rights to land are concerned. The situation is compounded by the socially constructed roles of men and women which ascribe more power to men and hence assign them greater rights to land including rights to distribute and

redistribute access rights to members of the community. In male dominated patriarchal communities, the greatest power is vested in the older male members of the community. Ownership which constitutes the overall right to land also flows from social relations in the community even where rhetoric may have it that land is vested in the entire community. Indeed, while the perception is that the entire community owns the land, it is clear that those with the most power will control and determine access to the land. They can do this to the detriment of weaker members of the community who are powerless to stop them.


This male oriented system of ownership and control of land determines the social, economic and political autonomy for individuals as well as communities. Considering that land is the basis of the identity and citizenship of nations, communities and individuals, the exclusion of women from ownership of land broadly and in communities, excludes them from citizenship locally and nationally and rights that flow from that citizenship. Not surprisingly, less than five per cent of all title deeds — the most coveted evidence of ownership of land — to land are held by women in Kenya. Women thrive in stable community relationships where access is guaranteed for all members. Individual ownership of land and patriarchal norms, however, have progressively made women’s rights to land tenuous. Their access to, control over and ownership of land is influenced by marital status and land is mainly controlled by male household heads on the assumption that the rights are held in trust for all in the household. Women provide the bulk of labour for land based activities in many communities but have

only access or the legal right to use the land which can be wiped out by the dissolution of marriage or the death of the male household head because their rights to land are predicated on fiduciary relationships to fathers, spouses, uncles, brothers and sons. Women are also not represented in formal and traditional land decision-making institutions. The formal ones are highly centralized, complex and bureaucratic while the traditional/informal governance structures use unwritten social rules that A woman farmer busy tending to her crops with care. The right to ownership is however not discriminate against women equal as most women do not own land and only work in their husbands farms. Picture: Kenthough ostensibly derived yan Woman Correspondent from shared community values. Customary law has livelihood, food security and necessary women in county and community land few provisions for divorced women and for reducing vulnerability or shock governance levels as the sites of local even fewer for single women. power should be facilitated. mitigation; and conservation — are at This negates women’s autonomy the core of women’s empowerment. in the social, political and economic Interventions It is within this broad context realms. It is significant because land Beyond law, there are a number that national constitutions provide is the primary vehicle through which of interventions that can facilitate for women’s rights to land, security of women can move from the domestic the actualization of women’s gains tenure over matrimonial property and or reproductive space where their in the Constitution and the National inheritance rights. Constitutional prowork is considered private and not reLand Policy. These include firstly, visions alone cannot, however, get rid ally work to the public and or producawareness-raising through civic of the entrenched social, cultural and tive work space. education. Secondly, capacity buildhistorical subjugation of women where Access ing to enable women to contribute to land is concerned. Community land the land reform agenda, law reform laws must put in place mechanisms Indeed women’s ownership, and the configuration of institutions; for ensuring women’s rights to access, control and access to land is critical to access land administration and control and own land. for their participation in politics and There are a number of entry points management institutions; and to other sectors of society because land redress grievances through formal and related resources are the backbone such as firstly, the provisions in the and traditional dispute resolution Constitution and the National Land of the national economy and the basis forums. Thirdly, lobbying and advoof livelihoods for communities and in- Policy which recognise women’s rights cacy through workshops and media to land and provide for equity and the dividuals. It is also linked to violence campaigns to raise awareness, build creation of a transparent and accountagainst women and women’s voice able system of land administration and capacity, and accelerate the pace of in the domestic, local and national legislation and implementation of management. These provide a critical spheres. fulcrum for securing women’s rights to gender sensitive laws regarding land Interventions in the multiple land. Secondly, effective engagement of and property. functions of land — as a source of

Special women’s seat shapes national politics

…By Atieno Akumu


evelations from the just concluded elections appeared to yet again confirm fears that Kenyans are yet to embrace the role of women in political leadership. Only 16 women were elected to the National Assembly but none was elected either as a Governor or Senator. The Constitution only guarantees the one third gender rule in the County Assemblies. Articles 177 (b) and 197 of the Constitution state that the two thirds gender principle must apply in both County Assemblies and County Executive Committees. However, to address the gender disparities, the Constitution created 47 women seats who are now members of the National Assembly. The 47 Women Representatives

will participate in policy making processes which have previously been dominated by men. “This special seat for women apart from just addressing the numerical imbalances, will allow women to have more say on policies regarding the welfare of women through voting for bills and implementing the same,” said Jane Godia, gender and media expert with the African Woman Child Feature Service (AWC). Godia said some of the issues to be addressed by Women Representatives include policies on women economic empowerment, child healthcare, maternal care and others domestic issues that affect women on a day to day basis. This was reiterated by Zainab Chidzuga, Kwale Women Representative who explained that her priority will be to empower women economi-

cally. Chidzuga noted that poverty levels in the County cannot be addressed without the input of women. She said majority of women in the County are dependent on their husbands adding that she plans to support initiatives that seek to empower women economically.

Priorities “I have already set up a team that will work closely with women at the grassroots to venture into income generating activities,” Chidzuga explained. She noted that it will be on the same level that she will support youth to engage in meaningful activities as some had resorted to acts of lawlessness and drug abuse. “As a parent I feel sad to see youth on drugs or being recruited to criminals groupings such as the secessionist group, Mombasa Republican Council (MRC),” she said.

Chidzuga further noted that Kwale County residents have no access to clean water and she plans to push for the allocation of funds to aid in the implementation of water projects in the area. Her Lamu counterpart Shakila Abdalla said that her priority will be to mentor young girls to take the leadership baton in future. “Women lack mentors and this has largely contributed to high levels of illiteracy and cases of early marriages in the County,” she said. Abdalla further pledged to address the recurrent water problem in the County especially in Lamu East. “We are working on short term measures to ensure a consistent flow of water as we work on long term solutions,” she noted. Abdalla said that she will also lobby for the adoption of gender sensitive policies.

Kilifi County Women Representative Katana Aisha Jumwa on her part said the special seat for women was critical to enable more women participate in decision making platforms. Jumwa said she will use the position to front the women’s agenda at the National Assembly.   However, a tour guide operator Juma Khalifa said that the affirmative action seat may further widen the gender disparities. He noted that the boy child has largely been ignored in education and employment sectors as attention has only focused on empowering the girl child. Other African Countries where affirmative action has been successful include South Africa with the women representation standing at 42.3 per cent, Rwanda 56.6 per cent, Uganda 35 per cent, Angola 34.1 per cent and Tanzania 36 per cent.

Executive Director: Arthur Okwemba Managing Editor:

Jane Godia


Duncan Mboya, Faith Muiruri and Carolyne Oyugi


Joyce Chimbi, Mercy Mumo, Odhiambo Orlale, Ruth Omukhango, Evans Kanini, Adam Juma, Abisai Amugune, Kabia Matega, Joseph Mukubwa, Benson Mwanga, Atieno Akumu, Ben Oroko, Valentine Atieno, Gilbert Ochieng, Maurice Alal, Gladys Moraa, Patricia KaimeriMbote

Design & layout:

Noel Lumbama (Noel Creative Media Ltd)

The Kenyan Woman is a publication of African Woman and Child Feature Service E-mail:

Supported by:

Kenyan woman 037  

This month's edition of Kenyan Woman looks at the performance of women in the last general elections in Kenya. Get it on

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you