Engendering the electoral process ahead of the 2017 general elections in Kenya

Kenya has made strides in achieving gender equality and equity in the last years.

Article 27 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 espouses the rights of women as being equal to men’s and  accords them equal protection and benefit before the law. This protection extends to the political, economic and social spheres. Politically, the two-thirds gender rule has been instrumental in ensuring a larger representation of women in this arena. However, a look at statistics shows that women only make up 16% of the total number in parliament. Rwanda on the other hand boasts of a 64% women representation in parliament.

How is that possible, considering that we have similar laws guiding gender representation?

Many people argue that these significant differences exist due to a lack of initiative from the women’s side. “How can we vote for women if they do not vie?” they ask. Culture is a big player in this. There still exists many patriarchal societies in Kenya where leadership roles are a preserve of the men. And the women will tell you this, “I cannot vote for a woman to be my member of parliament, that’s a man’s job!”

While the Constitution is clear about the 2/3 gender rule and that all persons are equal under the law, there are no implementation frameworks in place to help us act achieve this number. The law provides for affirmative action to remedy any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination. However, no policies have been made to give effect to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

A further look at how women in leadership are portrayed by some media both locally and internationally shows that there is still a lot of prejudice and sexism that needs to be addressed.

One small step in the direction of addressing this is to create awareness on the laws in place while highlighting the current status in the fight for gender equality and equity. Do you know about the Political Parties Fund? According to section 25(2) of the Political Parties Act; a political party shall not be entitled to receive funding from the Fund if more than two-thirds of its registered office bearers are of the same gender. The law is very clear on this, yet political parties still receive the funds – the law notwithstanding.

All these informed our decision as Global Partners Germany Programme (GPG II Kenia) to act. One of the most effective ways of creating awareness is through information multipliers. These are mainstream journalists, opinion shapers, citizen journalists, bloggers, leaders and influencers. The GPG II Kenia programme therefore organized a 2 day workshop together with the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) aimed at equipping the selected alumni in various strategic positions as listed above with the skills and knowledge necessary to help them highlight certain gender angles when reporting or discussing the upcoming general elections.

We aim to further ensure that the election reporting is balanced, appropriate and gives an accurate picture of the gender landscape to set a proper agenda and inform future policies and actions in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Contact Details

Name: Anne Samba
Email: anne.samba@giz.de
Posted in Gender Week Blog