It is no secret that women have traditionally been marginalized in Kenya. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the two-thirds gender rule has been ongoing for a while now. To understand this concept better we have to ask ourselves some questions. First, what is the two-thirds gender rule? Second, what is the intention of the two-thirds gender rule? In this article, we will be answering these questions hence ensuring readers access everything they should know.
The idea of the two-thirds gender rule Kenya came to life with the new constitution of 2010. The brains behind this constitution foresaw that if one gender was overly represented in parliament it could result in the marginalization of the other gender. Since independence, the Kenya parliament has been dominated by male parliamentarians. In as much the population of women is almost the same or slightly more than that of men, women have suffered historical injustices that prevented them from competing for leadership positions. Below are the important things you ought to know about the 2/3 gender rule in Kenya:
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According to the two-thirds gender rule, both the national assembly and senate should not have a composition of more than two-thirds of their members from one gender. This rule applies to all elective bodies as stipulated by the Kenyan constitution.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 which is currently on its second reading is intended to raise women representation in parliament. The bill was sponsored by majority leader in parliament Aden Duale and has gained support from top politicians including the president and opposition leader.
The rule was much welcomed but failed to take effect because the constitution did not offer a guideline on how to implement it. Following the legal dilemma, the office of the attorney general sought the advice of the Supreme Court on the same. According to the court, the gender principle is not a full right yet. As such, it cannot be subjected to direct enforcement. This meant that the rule could only be implemented progressively.
In 2015, Justice Mumbi Ngugi of the Kenyan high court ordered the attorney general and the commission for implementation of the constitution to act on their mandate and ensure that the law was tabled for legislation. This did not bear any fruits.
In March 2017 a high court judge by the name Justice John Mativo advised that if the gender rule was not implemented by the end of that year anyone was at liberty to write to the president of the supreme court who would, in turn, advise the country’s president to dissolve parliament. One year later yet neither the rule has been implemented nor has parliament been dissolved.
In parliament, the bill has failed to see the light of day on several occasions. The bill has been introduced a couple of times but it fails to proceed due to a lack of quorum. In February 2017 for instance, nominated senator Judith Sijeny sponsored a bill on the same but it required 45 members for the vote to pass. This never happened just as had been in the national assembly a year earlier.
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Whereas the intention of the two-thirds rule has always been the same, it has failed every time because there is no guideline on how to implement it. Duale’s bill seeks to offer a criterion based on the nomination to ensure that the number of women should not be below two-thirds of the total. Nominations will, therefore, have to be conducted after an election and the gender parity has been determined which is a new concept in Kenya law. Each political party will be expected to nominate female members based on its strength in parliament.
Now you know why the two-thirds gender rule Kenya has not been affected nearly a decade after the passing of the new constitution. Efforts have been made to change the status quo but it seems not enough has been done so far. All eyes are on the Kenyan parliament to see whether it will come up with the right affirmative action to deal with the gender issues in Kenya once and for all.
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