Gender Bill gathers steam as Uhuru gives push

Friday April 14 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during the funeral service of Margaret Wambui Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during the funeral service of Margaret Wambui Kenyatta at St Andrews Church in Nairobi, on April 13, 2017. Margaret Wambui Kenyatta was elected councillor for Dagoretti Ward in 1963. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FAITH NYAMAI
By FAITH NYAMAI
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WANJOHI GITHAE
By WANJOHI GITHAE
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President Uhuru Kenyatta told lawmakers to pass the one third gender Bill as he eulogised his sister Margaret Wambui Kenyatta.

He said the passage of the Bill would give women a chance to contribute to the development of the country.

“We have a responsibility to work together and ensure that the two thirds gender rule is passed so that women can take their rightful place in society,” he said.

The rule seeks to ensure that individuals of the same gender do not occupy more than two thirds of a particular category of public positions.

However, lawmakers have been scuttling efforts to pass it.

Margaret Wambui Kenyatta was the first African mayor of Nairobi.

CELEBRATE WOMEN
The President said his elder sister was one of the women who played a great role in the fight for the country’s independence.

Mr Kenyatta said his sister, his mother Mama Ngina and his wife Margaret were examples of great women in the Kenyatta household.

“Her name comes from our matriarch, Wambui. I come from a family that has very strong women, women who are the backbone of the family,” he said.

“Today’s service has turned out to be a day to celebrate women. The gender rule should be passed to enable women participate in national issues.”

From her years as a girl tormented by anguish of her father’s incarceration in the 1950s to the twilight of her public life as a commissioner with the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya in 1990s, speaker after speaker, said Margaret carried herself with dignity.

LIFE AS A MAYOR
The service was at PCEA St Andrews Church in Nairobi and the eulogy was read by her sister Jeni Wambui Kenyatta Gecaga and Dr Eddah Gachukia.

Margaret Wambui Kenyatta, who was Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s second born daughter from his marriage to Grace Wahu, was elected councillor for Dagoretti Ward in 1963 and re-elected for four terms.

During her tenure, she played a prominent role in the administration of public health, where she led the reconstruction of Pumwani Hospital.

She became the deputy mayor of Nairobi in 1969 and mayor from 1970 to 1976.

Her election made her the first African woman mayor of Kenya’s capital city.

She was also the second African woman Mayor in Kenya.

Her tenure was marked by adoption of standards that uplifted Nairobi to status of “The Green City in the Sun” and thus one of the leading cities in the world through the implementation of many projects, part of the eulogy read.

STATE OF EMERGENCY
Among the projects she is credited for were the construction of the Jamhuri, California, Kariobangi South, Buru Buru and Madaraka housing estates, the first of their kind in East and central Africa.

Margaret Kenyatta represented women in the United Nations activities and led the Girl Guides Movement.

When Mzee was jailed after the declaration of the state of emergency in 1952, she was the source of information for her father through the numerous letters that she wrote.

Her cousin Kung’u Muigai and step sister Kristina Pratt told mourners what went on in the Kenyatta household in the 1950s.

Mr Muigai recalled Ms Kenyatta visiting the family in Gatundu, Kiambu in 1957.

Ms Muthoni Likimani, an author, age mate and a childhood friend, said she used to visit Margaret Kenyatta in Kariakor during the emergency.

GOOD RECORD
Former MP Phoebe Asiyo, also a childhood friend, said she used to visit her to read magazines.

Deputy President William Ruto said Margaret was a great woman who served the country with distinction.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero described her as a person of integrity whose record as mayor of Nairobi has been difficult to match.

Margaret was 89. She had one son, High Court Judge Patrick John Kamau who died in 2005.