From Sebastian Gatimu, Researcher, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, Institute for Security Studies, Nairobi. The article discusses the failure to pass a law to give effect to a Constitutional requirement in Kenya, to limit the representation of one gender to no more than 2/3rds of parliament:
On 27 April and 5 May 2016, a bill was tabled seeking to amend the Constitution to allow for more women to be nominated to Parliament. The proposal is also meant to ensure that the country complies with Article 27 of the Constitution, which calls for equality and freedom from discrimination. On both occasions, the bill was thrown out due to a lack of quorum in the Parliament. The bill states that if elected women do not meet the two-thirds gender rule, the remaining number must be filled through nominations. This bill would have provided new hope to break historical injustices against women in Kenya.
This idea is, however, also associated with tokenism – as argued by some of the MPs who boycotted or voted against the bill. Some argue that the situation of nominating additional women MPs may have weakened healthy competitiveness among women in the political arena. Proponents of the bill, however, counter that it would have provided an opportunity for Kenya to start living up to the commitments outlined in the Constitution.
The most important intervention needed would be to establish a level playing ground for political competitors, across gender lines. This can only be happen if the leadership is committed to affirmative action and women empowerment, as has been the case in Rwanda.
Many Kenyan women who have tried carving out a political career have directly or indirectly had their aspirations thwarted due to entrenched patriarchal views.