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Kenyan Woman

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

MARCH 8, 2014

MARCH 8, 2014

Kenyan Woman

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Road to gender equality riddled with hurdles <<from page 11

other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender”. Wamaitha notes that this article has resulted to appointment and nomination of women in public leadership positions as the not more than two thirds of same gender representation threshold has to be met. Case in point is the 2013 General Elections where women had to be nominated in the county assemblies to fulfil the threshold constitutional requirement. “This is a wake-up call to Kenyan voters to vote for women in subsequent elections failure to which they will continue carrying the burden of paying salaries to the large number of honorable members who of course include the nominated women members,” Wamaitha states.

Regulations She notes that the Political parties Act 2012 requires that all political parties meet the not more than two thirds of the same gender representation threshold in parties leadership and nomination lists. “This demands that women are incorporated in the political parties’ leadership.” The Elections Act 2012 has outlawed election offences and spelt out strict penalties against culprits. “This is a step in the right direction in encouraging more women to step out of their cocoon and vie for leadership positions without fear of election violence which is usually meted on women aspirants by their male contestants forcing many of them to drop out of the race prematurely,” Wamaitha states. Realistically,

achievement

of

inadequate recognition of the Deputy Governor’s office. This has forced me to work twice as hard to ensure visibility of my office and influence over decisions in significant political matters.

Gender equality and empowerment of women particularly in this patriarchal Kenyan society is a process that will take time for it involves changing of people’s attitudes and mind-set.

Adelina Mwau who is the Deputy Governor, Makueni County. Mwau doubles up as the treasurer of the newly established network of women Deputy Governors dubbed Kenya Network of Women Governors.

Implementation However, the Kenyan government has made tremendous steps towards achieving this goal as evidenced by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and other relevant legislations. All that is required now is for the relevant institutions to implement the constitution and other legislation in letter and spirit in order to protect and promote Gender equality and women empowerment in Kenya. The MDG report notes that in the public arena, the Government put in place a policy requiring all public institutions reserve 30 per cent of all new appointments and promotions for women. As a result the number of women has been increasing from (32.4 per cent) 2008 to (38 per cent) in 2012. However placement of women in senior decision making positions in the public service remains tilted in favour of men. Women’s employment remains either within the traditional female occupations or within the domestic and farming sectors all too often as casual/ unskilled workers. Of significance is the new Government decision to appoint six women out of 18 cabinet secretaries to powerful dockets which include; Defence, Devolution and Planning, Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Environment Water and Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism. The Government has also supported programmes towards the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 through the development of the National Action Plan with clear recognition of the importance of equal participation of women in peace and security processes, and the mainstreaming of gender in humanitarian action.

We have a robust constitution that has as one of its pillars the promotion of gender equality and a commitment to improve the status of women. There are sector specific gains like the increased enrolment of girls in schools. Patricia Nyaundi, Commission Secretary Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Women leaders pictured during a previous event. The glaring gender gap has continued to define the political landscape in the country. PICTURE: RUTH OMUKHANGO

PICTURE: COURTESY

Women urged to be vigilant to bridge inequalities By Jill Anne Anami

T

he journey towards gender equality remains long and winding. Despite the Constitution granting women the right of representation at decision making levels, this has not helped to resolve gender inequalities.

This became clear during the launch of FIDA Strategic Plan where participants engaged in a heated debate over the lacklustre treatment of women and their issues since the Constitution was promulgated on August 28, 2010, more than two years ago. According to Winnie Lichuma, chairperson National Gender and Equality Commission, women have continued to be largely absent from relevant decision making bodies. Lichuma urged civil society organisations to remain vigilant especially in ensuring that the not more than two thirds principle is observed at all levels of decision

making.

Discrimination She cited the recent appointments of the 26 chairpersons to various boards of state corporations and parastatals by the President which contravened the gender principle as envisaged in the constitution. “With these examples, there is need for women to engage, Lichuma said noting “nice girls do not sit in corner offices. They sit on the discussion tables”. According to Lichuma, Kenyans are looking for people who can defend their rights yet there is so much happening where women need to be engaged. She challenged FIDA to be vigilant so as to denounce injustices that occur in the country. In addition, she said that the organization together with other

gender and human right activists should be able to challenge Members of Parliament to support bills that seek to increase women participation at all levels.

Represenation This was reiterated by Christine Ochieng, Executive Director FIDA who observed that women are side-lined in national and local governments. Currently, the representation of women in the government falls short of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number three on promoting gender equality and women empowerment. Article 27(8) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 states that, “the state shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive body heads shall be of the same gender”. However, a Gender Audit of the General Election held on March 4,

Nine women at the helm as deputy governors By Odhiambo Orlale

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he last General Election saw nine women who were running mates to governors take up their positions as deputy governors.

Although the nine may sound like a drop in the ocean considering that there are 47 Governors, they have at least made it to the management of county governments. Coast and Eastern provinces are proud of having the lion’s share of women leaders who made it as deputy governors in the last General Election.

Out of the nine women leaders who were honoured with that coveted seat, three are from Coast region and another three from Eastern region. Despite the gender principle embraced and enshrined in the Constitution, none of the 47 Counties in the country elected a woman as a Governor. That was even after an aggressive sensitization and affirmative action campaigns carried out at the national and grassroots level across the country. The supreme law states that the governor’s post is an elective while the deputy is appointed by the winner of the gubernatorial race, who must name the same person as his or her

running mate. There are 38 male deputy governors The Deputy Governors Forum is chaired by Everlyn Aruasa who represents Narok County. From the Coast are Hazel Katana (Mombasa), Fatuma Mohamed Achani (Kwale) and Mary Ndiga Kibuka (Taita Taveta). The other three are from Eastern region namely Dorothy Nditi (Embu); Peninah Malonza (Kitui) and Adelina Mwau (Makueni). The others two are Susan Chepkoech Kikwai (Kericho) and Ruth Odinga (Kisumu.

Adelina Mwau Makueni Deputy Governor remains a woman for all seasons By Odhiambo Orlale

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mong the nine women Deputy Governors in the country, Adelina Mwau is the most politically seasoned among

them, thanks to her five-year stint as an Assistant Minister and Nominated MP. The Makueni Deputy Governor is a former gender programme officer with Oxfam Kenya, and was at the forefront with fellow women leaders in mainstreaming gender in the new Constitution under the Ufungamano Initiative. Mwau doubles up as the treasurer of the newly established network of women Deputy Governors dubbed ‘Kenya Network of Women Governors’. Mwau hit the ground running after her swearingin as a Nominated MP, by President Kibaki’s Narc party in 2003, where she joined her fellow female colleagues like Martha Karua, Charity Ngilu, Beth Mugo, Njoki Ndung’u and Nyiva Mwendwa among others to promote the gender-agenda in legislation, policy formulation and budget-making. In her wealth of experience, Mwau served as founder and Board Member of the Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW), Kenya Women Political Alliance and Institute for Social Transformation in Uganda among others. During her stint as an Assistant Minister for Labour and Human Resource Development, Mwau served as a member of Public Accounts Committee, where she worked behind the scenes with her colleagues to promote the engendering of bills, motions and budget-making process in the ninth Parliament. The following are excerpts of a recent interview with her on the challenges she is facing in Makueni County under Prof Kivutha Kibwana.

Question: Who are your local role models and mentors, and how did they

help you?

Answer: My mother tops the list of my mentors. She is a former nominated councillor of Kilungu District. Others include the late Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai as well as Prof Wanjiku Kabira and Prof Judith Mbula Bahemuka of the Institute of Development Studies, Martha Karua and all the women in the women’s movement. They exposed me to leadership and prepared me for political battles. The lessons learnt from their experiences and struggles taught me to respect and appreciate women. They also made me realise that nobody gives you power, you just take it.

Question: When did you plunge into politics? Answer: It was in 2002, when former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration came to power under National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). In 2003, I was nominated as a Member of Parliament and later appointed as an Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Management.

Question: Since you took over the management of Makueni County as deputy governor, what are your major achievements and challenges so far? Answer: I was nominated for the Award of OGW (Order of the Golden Warrior) by the Devolution and Planning Ministry. I am spearheading a project that seeks to address menstruation management and hygiene practices in rural public primary and secondary schools. The project is aimed at ensuring that girls from poor families have access to sanitary towels and underwear. Besides, my office is liaising with various stakeholders and donors to support

construction of girl-friendly toilets in schools. I am also working with colleagues to advocate for Affirmative Action and tow third gender representation in all processes within Makueni County. I am actively involved in engendering county budgets and the County Assembly. Others activities are in advocacy, lobbying and community awareness on gender, adult education, reproductive health, human rights and development issues in addition to continuous education and awareness creation on devolution as well as opportunities available for women, youth and people with disabilities through the tendering process. We are also encouraging formation of groups in order to benefit from above.

Question: What have been your challenges Deputy Governor? Answer: Lack of clear definition of the roles of a Deputy Governor and inadequate visibility of the Deputy Governor’s office due to lack of gender sensitive media coverage.

Question: What are the functions of a DG and how have you carried them out? Why are the women deputy governors not visible? Answer: There is lack of specific functions for the deputy governors including a well-structured job description. In most of the counties, deputy governors have largely been overshadowed by governors thus remaining in the background and only venturing in public when performing delegated duties.

Question: How was the media treating you before your appointment and has it changed now that you have a big high profile office? Answer: The Kenyan media still continues to perpetuate the culture of male dominance in politics by failing to accord both male and female leaders equal coverage. There is need for increased coverage in various print and electronic media as this will increase visibility of women deputy governors.

Question: As one of the nine women deputy governors, how does it feel working in a male dominated environment and making an impact? Answer: I have encountered challenges due to

Question: As a member of the D Governors’ Forum, what impact, if any, has it made to lobby your issues at the national level? What is your agenda for this year? Answer: We have filed a petition at the Supreme Court demanding that the Senate amends the County Government Act so as to clearly define our roles. We are also demanding that the Supreme Court gives a constitutional interpretation regarding the impeachment of a deputy governor. Our forum has gained recognition so far through wide media coverage which has given it visibility and this has encouraged debates and dialogue among citizens on the role of deputy governors.

Question: So many women and girls are looking up to you for inspiration. What can you share with them as far as leadership is concerned? Answer: To pursue their dreams that they can be whatever they want to become if they concentrate on their education by working hard, setting goals and focusing on achieving them so that they can live better lives and become powerful and influential leaders in the future.

Question: What would you like to see being done to commemorate the International Women’s Day locally and internationally? Answer: Recognition of exemplary women or heroines who have stood out and touched lives of others in the community. Celebrate economic, political and social achievements of women. Increase media coverage on the need to empower women in economic, social and political spheres. I would also like to see the revival of women’s movement in Makueni County with a key focus on the women’s agenda and the cooperative movement for women. There is need to emphasise on visibility of women’s roles in all sectors in addition to an increased understanding of devolution and opportunities available for women including the benefits of devolution to both women and men.

Question: The Constitution has embraced affirmative action which the Supreme ruled would be implemented gradually in the National Assembly within the next five years and not immediately as had been expected by the women’s movement, do you have a comment? Answer: Kenyan women are slowly but surely breaking the barriers that have so long hindered their effective participation in politics and decision-making. Affirmative action will help solve the gender disparity that has been in existence for many years. If fully embraced, women’s representation in politics and in key decisionmaking positions is likely to improve.

Question: Is it being implemented in your county, if not, why not? Answer: Women in Makueni County are determined to use affirmative action to negotiate for space and visibility. However, women still have miles to go before they can sleep.

INSPIRING CHANGE  

Special issue of the Kenyan Woman newspaper for International Women's Day 2014

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