Monday , September 26 2022

Kenya has to go through the bill of representation of women or the risk of constitutional crisis


Kenyan politicians must pass a bill to provide women with one-third of seats in parliament – or risk losing the country in a constitutional crisis, warned MPs who back the bill Tuesday.

Despite the Kenya constitution in 2010, which stipulates that not more than two-thirds of any elected or appointed organ may be of the same sex, women hold 22% of the seats in the lower parliament of the country and 31% of the upper.

Judgments in 2012 have urged parliament to pass legislation to implement the gender rule or the risk of dissolving – but previous attempts have failed with female deputies accusing male lawmakers of deliberately blocking their efforts.

If the Parliament is dissolved, the general elections will have to be summoned. Kenya had a controversial, strongly polarized and violent electoral year.

Against the backdrop of increased court scrutiny, the lower house in Kenya is due to vote on Wednesday on a bill.

"The truth is that we, as a parliament, are unconstitutional," said Rozaah Buyu, representative of the western region of Kisumu.

"What authority should we make known to others when we do not act within the constitution by ignoring the gender rule?"

The High Court in 2017 said the head of justice could be urged to advise the president to dissolve parliament if no law was passed, said Buyu, deputy chairwoman of the Kenyan Women's Association.

Time of counting

The Kenyan economy has grown on average by 5% a year over the past decade, but the benefits have not been equally divided. Women and girls remain disadvantaged from a social, economic and political point of view.

Women account for just one-third of the 2.5 million people employed in the formal sector, says the National Bureau of Statistics in Kenya. While women provide 80% of agricultural labor in Kenya, they hold 1% of the agricultural area.

The percentage of women in the Kenyan parliament is lower than East Africa's neighbors, such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Gender experts say that women in politics around the world are facing a challenge bar – from physical and sexual violence to lack of money to fund their campaigns. The odds, they say, help create a more balanced playing field and ensure voice representation.

The bill, which was introduced last week in Parliament, provides for the creation of special seats if the elections fail to get the necessary numbers and the candidates of the under-represented sex are nominated to fill them.

Supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, many MPs expressed their support for the bill, quoting recent actions in Ethiopia, where half of the cabinet, the head of the election, the head of the supreme court and the president are women.

"Regine killers" and sexist weaknesses

But the bill faces rigid resistance.

Previous attempts to vote on a bill have diminished, largely due to the quorum crises in which deputies have failed to be present, and there is fear that this may happen again.

Human rights experts say critics have pushed the opposition through the use of populist comments and sensational sexist weaknesses to present the bill as a "bill for women."

Positions, they add, will be given to masters of high-ranking politicians or "killer queens," a term used to describe a beautiful woman who gives rich men-not a merit.

A deputy suggested that women who are nominated for parliamentary seats be subjected to an "integrity test" in which their children's DNA is checked to ensure that they are all the same father.

Human rights experts say that this has fueled the public's misconceptions about the bill – leading to a debate dominated by sexism instead of deeds.

"There is a misunderstanding on the part of citizens that gender is a woman, and the bill is meant to favor women in political representation," said Zebib Kavuma, head of U. N. Kenya's Women.

"This provision could be men or women, as in the case of Rwanda, where more than one men are currently nominated to reach the two-thirds threshold. Filling the gender rule is important for posterity."

Male opponents also argued that the creation of additional parliamentary seats would cost Kenyan taxpayers millions of dollars in additional salaries, but campaigns cite studies from the Institute of Economic Affairs that estimates the cost per person to be around six shillings ($ 0.06) per year.

"All these are just secondary performances of the irrational patriarchy," said Marilyn Kamuru, a prominent lawyer and commentator for gender rights.

"Politicians are trying to unleash the anti-feminine feeling as a basis for justifying their vote no, so they do not want to talk about the fact that this bill is a constitutional requirement."

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