Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fight for power, First Lady tells women

First Lady Lucy Kibaki has urged Kenyan women to fight for leadership positions rather than seek to acquire power on a "silver platter" August 27, 2011. FILE

First Lady Lucy Kibaki has urged Kenyan women to fight for leadership positions rather than seek to acquire power on a "silver platter" August 27, 2011. FILE 

By DAVE OPIYO dopiyo@ke.nationmedia.com

First Lady Lucy Kibaki has urged Kenyan women to fight for leadership positions rather than seek to acquire power on a "silver platter".

She said women must "campaign aggressively" for leadership rather than leaving the political arena to be dominated by men.

“As we seek new avenues of enhancing the role of women in leadership, I call upon them to push for realistic reforms that are achievable not only for them but also for the country as a whole,” she said in a statement Saturday.

“I urge women to work tirelessly for what they want because nothing can be achieved without hard work.”

“Indeed, sweat and determination is the surest way of achieving gender equality. Moreover, there is no pride or joy in being spoon-fed or in receiving things in a silver platter.”

Mrs Kibaki said Article 81 (b) of the constitution, that requires not more than two-thirds of members of elective bodies be of the same gender, could not be implemented in its current form.

This, she argues, was because its implementation will contravene other articles of the constitution and compromise the democratic process.

“In particular, the implementation of this law would contravene Article 38 (2) that grants every citizen the right to free and fair elections based on universal suffrage,” said the first lady.

“Thus, voters who would get aggrieved for being constrained to freely contest for election in order to create room for women will seek recourse to the court process,” she went on in a statement.

Mrs Kibaki said there is no country in the world where one gender is barred from contesting an election in order to give way for another gender to have an easy access to the legislature.

“Any such law would be undemocratic and unconstitutional,” she added.

But even as she made her feelings on the matter known, the First Lady still maintained that there were ways of increasing women representation in elective bodies.

She said there are workable electoral designs that are in use in other parts of the world that can be used to achieve the goal of increasing the number of women in the legislature.

The First lady said even as Kenyans celebrate the first anniversary of the new constitution, it is important that they explore international best practices so that women are adequately catered for in the new constitutional dispensation.

“Therefore, the challenge before us is to explore other practical avenues that can be adapted to our local circumstances and applied to not only increase the representation of women but also other marginalized groups in our society,” she said.

She revealed that she has been keenly watching the unfolding debate on the representation of women in elective public bodies as provided for in the Constitution.

She said increasing the number of women in decision making organs leads to improvement of the lives of women.

“Indeed, no society can hope to develop and realize its optimal potential if over half the population is marginalised and disempowered.”

The First Lady said even as Kenyans celebrate the first anniversary of the new constitution, it is important that they explore international best practices so that women are adequately catered for in the new constitutional dispensation.

“Therefore, the challenge before us is to explore other practical avenues that can be adapted to our local circumstances and applied to not only increase the representation of women but also other marginalised groups in our society,” she said.

She revealed that she has been keenly watching the unfolding debate on the representation of women in elective public bodies as provided for in the new constitution.

She said increasing the number of women in decision making organs leads to improvement of the lives of women.

“Indeed, no society can hope to develop and realise its optimal potential if over half the population is marginalized and disempowered.”

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