Since the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, there have been several attempts to actualize the realization of the 2/3rd gender principle with no success. The attempts have failed mainly due to a lack of political goodwill to support legislation on the floor of Parliament.
Despite the setbacks, there is an opportunity that might help achieve this if the country’s leadership lives up to its promise of making this a reality. Through a communique to the Senate and the National Assembly on 9th December 2022, the President of the Republic of Kenya sought interventions to address constitutional gaps towards implementing the two-thirds gender principle, among other issues. The communique proposes the need to harness views in a collaborative frame, resulting in the immediate and long-term realization of the two-thirds gender principle.
Kenya women leaders, through a consultative forum that was held on 23rd, February 2023, were optimistic that the commitment from the executive, if fully supported, would unlock the stalemate. The government has also established the Office of Advisor, Women’s Rights Agency led by Hon. Harriet Chiggai, within the President’s Executive Office, whose mandate is to enhance women’s involvement, protection, and advancement.
“Regarding women in political decision-making, equality is still a dream yet to be realised. This meeting allows women leaders to discuss how to have more women represented in parliament and other leadership spaces.” Hon. Harriette Chiggai, President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights.
ActionAid has not been left behind in this discourse. Through partnerships with other like-minded organisations, we advocated for implementing the 2/3rd gender principle through a popular initiative dubbed “Green Amendment Campaign”; through this campaign, we collected over 1.4 million signatures to champion women and youth to take up leadership. This is why ActionAid supported the consultative forum by Kenyan Women leaders, as it sets the stage for realizing this principle.
“ActionAid recognizes that participation in political processes and leadership is crucial for women to influence local, county, and national decision-making. This meeting will pave the way for collective action to actualize this aspiration.” Susan Otieno, Executive Director ActionAid International Kenya
The forum has set the stage for more other consultative meetings whose discussions will culminate into a bill to be tabled in parliament in the year. Once enshrined in the Constitution, the law will provide a lasting and sustainable solution to increased gender parity and women’s empowerment. Additionally, it will ensure all organizations deliberate and continuous efforts to achieve gender-responsive leadership, governance, and development at all local and national levels. Secondly, it will provide a well-informed and empowered citizenry that understands the two-third gender principle. This will change Kenya’s citizens’ and stakeholders’ attitudes, cultures, and behaviors toward gender inclusion.
Author: Ezra Kiriago (Communications Coordinator, ActionAid Kenya)