Gender equality campaign is more serious than lipstick talk

Monday December 3 2018

gender bill

Members of Parliament debate the gender bill on November 21, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KALTUM GUYO
By KALTUM GUYO
More by this Author

I will start by saying that I emphatically support the Bill on gender equality. More so now than ever before. There is every reason to have more women in Parliament at least to teach men the difference between a slay queen and a woman of substance.

Slay queen can, of course, be a woman of substance depending on which man is judging. After all, it took two to tango to birth the term slay queen.

To suggest that the slots being created for women will be filled by slay queens is to suggest women have very little to offer the society than red lipstick and heels.

Prof Wangari Maathai did not need to play a slay queen card to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first African woman to do so. Her achievements went uncelebrated at home for a long time because our patriarchy was still trying to get to grips with whether a woman could scale such great heights of success.

Now we know she can!

GENDER BILL

The slay queen claims surrounding the gender Bill have all the hallmarks of intimidation and bullying by the patriarchy to silence the only voice still unrepresented at the policy making table. Why can’t she speak for herself? Kenyan women do not need to be objectified in order to be pulled down before the battle even begins.

Neither is there a rule against a mother with a rainbow of children being appointed. If she failed the integrity test because she had children with different men, as it is claimed, so did the fathers of the children. Not all circumstances of single mothers are the same.

The moral threshold does not need to be higher for a woman because she is just that, a woman in the eyes of the sexist men.

Accepting the gender Bill shows that we are ready to take humanity to the next level of sophistication. Equality shows that we value everyone in the society by giving opportunities to all without judging the physical attributes.

PROSPERITY LADDER

Equality is about taking the human race up one rung on the prosperity ladder. This is about showing the progress we have made over the years by letting go of archaic patriarchal systems that have undermined women’s progress for centuries.

It is about being secure in our skin and accepting others as equal and useful members of the society.

One argument given in objecting to increasing women’s representation in politics is that it will be unaffordable.

The same Parliament turns around and demands more allowances for MPs. This is either a classic case of misogyny or Parliament is selfish beyond redemption.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES

I agree there has to be a formula to appoint women to the slots reserved to avoid abuse of the system. However, this argument should not hinder the implementation of the Bill. It is negligible in the grand scheme of things. The benefits of having more women in politics will definitely far outweigh the cost.

The Bill would give women from marginalised communities equal opportunities. Without it most of them will continue to be exploited as exotic creatures only fit on a postcard for tourists.

Some advanced communities will have women strong enough to be able to fight it out with men but for others it is still a pipe dream for cultural reasons. There are men in Kenya who still believe a woman is nothing but a child with big feet.

However, a woman’s ‘big’ feet will become dependable in the absence of the man in case of death or divorce.

The 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals had Gender Equality as one of the 17 to be achieved globally by its member states as part of Vision 2030.

HUMAN RIGHT

The UN indicated at the time that: "gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will nurture sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large” There you have it.

Leaving out half the population because they do not fit the bill due to their gender, is absurd. We need everyone on board if we are to secure ours and the UN’s 2030 SDGs. Otherwise, we would be the only country left behind in the advancement of women’s rights.

ACQUIRE JOBS

We have opened up the space for girls to study and acquire jobs, but many more are still left behind in the political arena.

The gap needs to be bridged in the political sphere where we lag behind other countries so that we can have the right women in the right places to fight for the rights of women.

The gender Bill will help to expand representation in politics and in other areas of leadership. Let us not be sexist but rational by allowing positive discrimination of women to enhance their visibility now in order to lay a strong foundation for them in future social, economic and political arenas.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected]

Advertisement