Role of women MPs in the spotlight at forum

Friday April 25 2014

PHOTO | FILE Siaya County Women Representative Dr Christine Ombaka speaks during a past forum. County women MPs are holding a retreat to reflect on their role in Parliament and to brainstorm on how they can improve their contribution.

PHOTO | FILE Siaya County Women Representative Dr Christine Ombaka speaks during a past forum. County women MPs are holding a retreat to reflect on their role in Parliament and to brainstorm on how they can improve their contribution. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By CAROLINE WAFULA
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County women MPs are holding a retreat to reflect on their role in Parliament and to brainstorm on how they can improve their contribution.

The 47 representatives in the National Assembly started their two-day meeting in Naivasha on Friday to discuss their output in the House.

The meeting was organised by the Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association and Suny Kenya. It is seen as a response to growing criticism of the role of the County Women MPs.

A year after their election, leaders from within and outside Parliament have re-ignited debate on whether the women leaders were making any meaningful contribution to Parliament.

At a recent political parties meeting, organised by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, questions were raised about the performance of County Women MPs. Participants argued that their could hardly be felt.

The meeting discussed gender equality in parties and noted that performance of women was a crucial measure of the quality of their leadership. 

Participants discussed the challenge of translating elected women leaders’ numbers to real political power.

GENDER EQUALITY

The Naivasha retreat will discuss the same question. The women’s association said the 47 County Women MPs will reflect on their roles and look into ways of turning their numbers into quality output.

“We want to redefine their role and find ways of profiling them in a good way,” an official of the association said.

The MPs will also discuss the proposed Social Development Fund through which they want to implement development by giving each county Sh70 million.

At the forum organised by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, women were trying to understand why they do not influence political decisions in parties even where they hold senior positions.

Findings of a survey conducted by the lobby indicated that although parties had policies to support gender representation, that had not had much effect.

All the 18 political parties were clear on gender equality, core values and principles, with some providing for a 50:50 gender representation in all party structures.

That, however, did not translate into notable gains for women during the last General Elections, according to the findings.

Parties should promote active policies of gender balance to enhance women’s participation in politics and at all levels of decision making, it states.