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Issue Number 41 • October 2013

Women and the Kenyan constitution

…By Duncan Mboyah

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enya’s new constitution became operational in the year 2010 and created opportunities for both gen-

ders. The constitution demonstrates several gains for the women of Kenya, including stronger protections for their health and lives. It affirms that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to health services and reproductive healthcare. It also ensures that a person shall not be denied emergency medical treatment, which includes necessary medical treatment for women seeking post-abortion care or emergency abortion services, regardless of their ability to pay for such services. It has also made it possible for women to have rights to matrimonial property. Under Kenya’s previous law, inheritance was governed by customary law, often preventing women from inheriting property from their parents or laying claim to joint assets when their husbands’ died. A new Bill of Rights also provides that all marriages shall be registered under an Act of Parliament. This means that even customary law marriages will be certified, protecting women’s interests in disputes between a widow and her in-laws over property. In the new dispensation, all marriages will be officially registered. Women will also be protected from claims by other women who turn up following a man’s death, claiming to have been married to the same man under customary law and demanding a share of his estate – a common occurrence. Despite being 50 percent of the population, women’s needs are rarely reflected in the overall national policy because they do not feature in key decision making positions that distribute power and resources nationally. The new structure of devolution should also benefit women as national budgets are brought closer to the people: a minimum of 15 percent of the national budget will now be allocated

at a local level. Even though several commissions like the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) were formed to help monitor, facilitate, coordinate and oversee the development of the legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the Constitution, a lot still needed to be done as their term comes to an end.

Implementation CIC is required to oversee the proper implementation of the devolution process and also protect the sovereignty of the people, to secure the observance by all state organs of democratic values and principles and to promote constitutionalism. According to a member of the commission Ms. Catherine Muma most government officials and County officials are university graduates but unfortunately they do not know what the new law stipulates. “Since the commission is coming to end in 2015, it’s is the responsibility of the government and universities to take up leading role by creating awareness to the public,” she observed during a sensitisation meeting at the University of Nairobi. Muma said that Kenyans voted for devolution because they felt that the central system of governance was not serving them equally as patriarchal and tribal alliance took a leading role in decision making when it came to sharing of resources. She however noted that the Major achievement that the constitution gave women is coming up with equality between all men and women to opportunities in political, social, economic, and cultural spheres. “It is not only marriage law that women achieved but women too are beneficiary in other areas such as land,” she added. She challenged the citizens to help monitor the implementation of the constitution adding that everyone has a role to play by ensuring that decisions are made in regard to the constitution. She appealed to the Supreme and Appeal courts to liase in ensuring that sections of the law that require

University rallies behind girl child education in mentorship programme

…By Isaiah Gwengi

T

he Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) is set to establish a mentoring programme that seeks to promote girl child education in the region. According to the Director of Centre for Gender Mainstreaming and Development at the institution, Dr Maria Onyango, the programme which is a brainchild of the university’s Vice Chancellor Prof Steven Agong’ is geared towards promoting girl-child education to enable them compete effectively globally. “The University will engage in capacity building programmes which will serve as agents of change in the society,” disclosed Onyango. Speaking at the University when marking the International Day of the Girl Child, Onyango described girl child education as a basic human right to help them chart the way to a successful and productive future. She noted that despite the constitutional requirement on two thirds gender representation in both appointive and elective positions, there are no adequate numbers of women to fill such positions. “Lack of access to quality education is a major determinant of poverty and ignorance in the society,” she said.

women participation in political leadership are followed to the letter.

Oversight The Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Ms. Anne Waiguru revealed that the government has deployed gender officials in all ministries and departments with the aim of ensuring that citizens gets proper services as is stipulated in the constitution. She noted that the ministry is currently collecting data and is in the

"Most government officials and County officials are university graduates but unfortunately they do not know what the new law stipulates." Ms. Catherine Muma

process of setting up sexual and gender centres to offer medical and legal support to women who are violated. Waiguru called on the University of Nairobi (UoN) to spearhead evidence based research to advice the government on how best to implement the constitution since many people are still thinking as per the old constitution. She told county and national government officials to follow the laid

down governance structures in the constitution while giving services to the people. According to Ms. Priscilla Nyokabi, Women Representative for Nyeri County, Kenya Women Parliamentarians have developed marriage and matrimony bills that are expected to be passed by parliament soon.

Change Nyakabi revealed that following the new constitution, five women are currently chairing parliamentary committees, something that was unthinkable in the old governance order. She said that through Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), the elected women leaders have vowed to ensure that the number of women legislators increase from the current 85 during the coming general elections. “We have come from far but we still have to work hard to ensure that more women are elected in parliament to help change laws in favour of all genders in this country,” she observed. Prof. Isaac Mbeche, the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs observed that the universities in Kenya and the region must help shape national and regional development through research. He said that UoN is ready to help in ensuring that that Kenya’s constitution 2010 is understood by all citizens. Prof. Mbeche called for the implementation of affirmative action as it is enshrined in the constitution as a way of empowering women in all aspects of life. “Research has revealed that women led institutions develops faster than those that are led by men adding that more women need to be given positions of leadership,” he added. The new constitution has given women opportunities in areas such as women and citizenship, women, equality and freedom from discrimination, women and rights to property and women and affirmative action.

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GBV centre established in Kisumu …ANGELA OKETCH

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ore than 500 survivors of Gender Based Violence within Nyanza and beyond are set to benefit from an established Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre in Kisumu. The Centre based at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) is the first in Nyanza and Western region and will provide comprehensive care services to the victims. The one stop Centre will see survivors receive medical, psycho-social and legal services. In an interview, Kisumu County Director for Social Development Jane Obiero said that the centre comes at an opportune moment following reports that Nyanza and Western have the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) cases in Kenya. “Kisumu County government plans to come up legislation, raise awareness and engage in advocacy as well as provision of post sexual violence services in health facilities,” said Ms Obiero. She said the Gender Technical Working Group (GTWG) has come up with an integrated and comprehensive way of addressing GBV in the County. “Gender Based violence (GBV) has been recognized as a serious global health, human rights and developmental issue worldwide and thus should be accorded attention by the county government as well,” she said. “Lack of integrated medical-legal services and community ownership of services has been identified as a challenge in addressing GBV coupled with the fact that there are few programmes that provide integrated care for survivors of GBV in Kenya,” said Ms Obiero. She added that the Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre was constructed with support from KEMRI/CDC who funded construction of the building and hired interim staff for a year at a cost USD 200,000. Gender Technical Working Group (GTWG) has been mandated to provide support to ensure that the Centre meets its objective. Kisumu County Governor Jack Ranguma officially opened the Centre whose theme is “A coordinated response to Gender Based Violence” with sub theme “A violence free society.

Jamii Bora Bank to implement women and youth Fund

…By Kenyan Woman Correspondent

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he government has partnered with Jamii Bora Bank to finance women and youth executing public contracts under the 30% procurement allocation .This was disclosed during a meeting held recently, when the Chief Commercial Officer of the bank, Mr. Timothy Kabiru, and the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ms. Anne Waiguru, met and agreed to take up various collaborative initiative, in order to support youth, women, and persons with disabilities for infrastructure and agri-business projects on a county and national level. According to a press release made available to different media houses by the bank on 31st October 2013, this effort followed the announcement by the government to allocate 30% of all tenders to youth, women and persons with disabilities. In line with this, the bank has said it will finance all organizations participating in the tenders under the program through issues of bid bonds, performance bonds, LPO financing and invoice discounting with favourable

credit requirement. The release also revealed that the government is currently in the process of registering and pre-qualifying enterprises owned by youth, women, and persons with disabilities under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) programme, also noting that special interest groups, will stand a chance to benefit from over Sh300 billion of the Sh1 trillion allocated to public procurement in this year’s budget.

Support Jamii Bora bank, having identified that youth, women, and persons with disabilities will still face a major challenge of high capital required in the procurement of tender, despite that government has waived several requirements to encourage special interest groups to participate in procurement, including scrapping capital minimums and tender fees, has said it will offer various financial instruments such as LPO financing, and invoice discounting to these enterprise, alongside other institutions such as Uwezo Fund and women enterprise funds. The bank has also agreed to re-finance

all Uwezo Fund beneficiaries who demonstrate outstanding repayments records and strong management capabilities, guaranteeing the beneficiaries a continuous source of funding after their businesses outgrow the Uwezo Fund. Furthermore, the bank has partnered with ATIX, a business advisory company for SMEs, to provide training on how to bid for government contracts as well as assist in company/business name registration, registration with treasuries at both county and national level, completion of tender documents as well as follow ups on the procurement process of tenders. According to the bank, some of the contracts already up for award are the supply and delivery of flowers, provision of cleaning services, photography and videography, and supply and delivery of mobile airtime. Jamii Bora bank noted that its main focus however will continue to be on leveraging technology to enable customers and all its stakeholders have access to a truly robust financial service that will enhance and transform their lifestyles anywhere, anytime and enabling them to do anything.

Kenyan Woman Issue 41  

October 2013 Issue | The Kenyan Woman newspaper is a monthly publication of African Woman & Child Feature Service.

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