GITHAIGA: Gender rule not a favour to women - Daily Nation

Gender rule not a favour to women

Thursday January 10 2019

Parliament

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

By KAREN WANJIKU GITHAIGA
More by this Author

It is ironical that Plato, a student of Socrates, who supported all aspects of justice and pursuit of happiness and wrote various texts on the same — including The Trial and Death of Socrates and the popular Statesman — could not internalise that discriminating against a woman was an injustice.

This notwithstanding that those that he called “demons” or “the 30 tyrants” because they had executed Socrates, who Plato believed was the most just of men, were all men.

His model of a just city recommended a philosopher king who was most qualified, soldiers who had excelled in physical and mental fitness and then the masses, whom he associated with appetite.

Plato associated the king with gold, the soldier silver and the people bronze; to him, the people were the least qualified. And I agree with him that the leaders should be the most qualified.

EDUCATION

The two World Wars took place under the rule of philosopher kings and women have worked behind the scenes to advise men and pacify the belligerents.

How much more would they do if given leadership?

Since time immemorial, mothers were the first and most valuable school. They inculcate the culture and religious norms and values.

Through the instructions of the dos and don’ts, they inculcate the culture of peace. As primary educators, they have brought peace to the world.

There is no justice without peace and equality, and my ideal leader would be a philosopher queen.

GENDER BILL

Some people are looking at the two-thirds gender bill in the perspective that it concerns women. But what is gender?

Simply put, it is the state of being male or female. Therefore, the bill is simply about the social, economic and political equal opportunities for all Kenyans — women and men.

Article 27 of the Constitution is clear that equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is a human right entrenched in the Bill of Rights, in Chapter 4 of the Constitution. Article 81(b) stipulates that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.

We have 47 woman representatives in the National Assembly as a result of affirmative action, but it was only recently that they got a fund.

Even after the woman reps negotiated for special interest group funds, the money was lumped together with the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).

FUNDING

In the 2017/18 budget, every MP was allocated Sh101.4 million through NG-CDF as woman reps got Sh7 million each, yet both are elected and the latter represents a bigger geographical area! This inequality makes the MP more visible.

It is even worse for nominated members of the county assembly (MCAs); they have no money allocated to them through the ward fund bills.

Nominated MCAs consist of the gender top-up and representatives of youth, minorities and people with disabilities.

This discriminative law should be amended to get every member on board.

How can somebody using their hands compete in tilling the same size of land with one using a tractor?

COST

But county assemblies’ websites have numerous bills, motions, reports and statements that the women, youth and disabled have participated in.

The marginalised members also fill the quorum of the House. In our African set-up, the women are advisers, but they cannot shout about it.

As a man is endowed with strength and intelligence, a woman is a fortified version of the man.

The naysayers have come up with propaganda that the gender rule will inflate the public wage bill. What is the harm in paying more for improved production?

Women leaders are more committed, caring, genuine, and practical and, most of all, less corrupt. They will save Kenyans more billions than the increase in wages.

Maybe it is the criteria of the nomination that is wanting. It is, indeed, true that human beings are self-centred and, as Aristotle put it, “in the absence of law, man is a beast”. But this can be solved by a regulation.

MERIT

If political parties are given the privilege of nominating leaders, then those grassroots women who break their backs recruiting members and campaigning will never get the ticket.

However, a woman should not be put in the list just for their gender but what they bring aboard, lest the aspect of equal representation loses meaning.

The envisaged new Kenya is taking shape. The “Handshake” is proof that we want to build bridges to cross together and beat all the odds — including inequality, discrimination and prejudices.

Ms Githaiga, a former nominated MCA, Nairobi County Assembly, is a political science student at the University of Nairobi. [email protected]

Advertisement