Women who attended a public hearing on the two third gender rule in Nairobi County have expressed support for a new Bill by Majority Leader Aden Duale.
The women who turned up on Monday to give their views on the Bills proposed towards the attainment of the gender rule, however, demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Bill that was proposed by Ainabkoi MP Mr Samuel Chepkonga who chairs the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the National Assembly.
They termed it ‘a broken promise’ and an attempt to deny women their constitutional rights.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee conducted a public hearing at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No.1) Bill 2015 and the Two Third Gender Laws (Amendment Bill) 2015. Both Bills were published on April 30, 2015.
The committee had invited members of the public to give their views on the two Bills before it goes back to Parliament for consideration.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposed by Mr Chepkonga provides for the amendment of Article 81 (b) of the Constitution so that the gender principle is achieved progressively, setting aside the five-year deadline.
The Two Third Gender Laws (Amendment Bill) 2015 on the other hand seeks to amend various laws to give effect to Article100 of the Constitution.
This is for purposes of promoting representation in Parliament of women, youth, and persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and marginalised communities in elective and appointive positions.
The Two Thirds Gender Rule Laws (Amendment) Bill was proposed by a Technical Working Group under the leadership of the Attorney-General.
It provides for amendments to five Acts; the Political Parties Act, the Elections Act, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act and the National Gender and Equality Act, to compel parties, the electoral commission and county governments to consider interests of special interest groups.
During Monday’s meeting, the women who were mobilised by various lobby groups to attend the public hearing did not want to hear anything to do with Mr Chepkonga’s Bill.
They would heckle down anyone who spoke contrary to what they were demanding and occasionally break into anti-Chepkonga chants like –‘Chepkonga out, Duale in.’
The meeting was chaired by Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang who was accompanied by other members of the committee, as well as Nairobi County Women Representative Ms Racheal Shebesh.
In their memorandum to the parliamentary committee, they said women of Kenya are tired of empty promises to equal treatment.
“We will take concrete, practical measures to empower women and deliver full equality in both law and practice,” they stated in the joint memorandum.
“We are tired of empty promises. Withdraw this Bill and pass the Technical Working Group Bill or any Bill that provides for the realisation of constitutional gender principle now as required by law,” they stated.
Similar hearings on the two Bills were carried out in Kisumu, Mombasa, Trans-Nzoia, Nyeri, Isiolo counties on Friday and Saturday.
The Nairobi forum failed to take off following protests from some of the women who claimed they had been denied entry to the venue which was the mini-chamber, County Hall, at the main Parliament Buildings.
Mr Duale tabled the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 4) Bill, 2015 in the National Assembly and moved a motion on Thursday to reduce its publication period from 14 days to four days, in a bid to fast track the same.
The Bill signed by Mr Duale but originating from the Attorney-General seeks to ensure that affirmative action is realised in both the National Assembly and the Senate through a top-up mechanism of members elected.
Among others, it proposes that those who will be nominated for special seats should serve for a maximum of two terms. It provides that any person who is elected to any House of parliament or legislative assembly by way of nomination shall enjoy such a nomination to a maximum of two terms.
At Monday’s hearing, however, women protested and rejected the use of the word ‘progressively’ in the newest Bill. The Bill proposes a 20-year framework within which the gender rule can be implemented.
According to the Bill, the allocation of the seats will be done proportionally on the basis of the number of seats won by a political party in order to ensure the empowerment through nomination will be spread to many people.