I am watching the unfolding debate on women representation with a lot of fore boding because i think the Cabinet resolution to amend the constitution clause hat representation in any one office by any gender should not exceed 2/3 will pass through.And it is going to pass through because men are a majority in parliament.
Despite having the highest ever number of women representation since independence in 1964,we have just 8% of parliamentarians being women,we still rank among the countries in the world with the lowest female representation in parliament
Rwanda which has held just two elections since 1994,they have managed to have 56.25 of their lawmakers being women.Their speaker is also female!
How did they do it?
Rwanda it seems under the keen eye of Paul Kagame made a deliberate effort to make more women representation a reality,and this in a country where women are 55% of the 11 million total population.A UNIFEM report on how this was achieved is available here.And much of it lays the success of this on the implementation of the quota system which in our haste we do not want to give a chance.
Our politicians need not chalk up air miles or split hairs on the issue,Rwanda is an example of how this is easily achieved and it starts with the President.
Paul Kagame whatever you may think of him has led the way in making sure the voice of women is heard and that it is heard loud and clear.Women representation in Rwanda is the highest in any legislature anywhere in the world.
Instead of chalking up air miles going to far off countries to see how successful parliaments are run, an overnight bus to Rwanda for our MP’s would do.Let us go learn something about empowering our women politically from our neighbours in the land of a thousand hills
We need to hear the partners ,the President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga leading the cause for more female representation.It is not an impossibility , we have seen the shattering of the glass ceiling in the corporate sector,where successful corporates are being headed by women.We can have the same in the political arena if only there is good will to honour what the constitution protects.
The battle though may sometimes seem to be a societal one e rather than a political .Kenyan women despite the fact that we form half the voting bloc rarely if ever vote for a woman no matter how qualified she may be.They would rather rally behind a man.
We need to confront the prejudices,stereotypes and myths we may have about being led by women and this i guess needs to start from our homes.In a country that is still fighting female genital mutilation,rape and domestic violence the task ahead is huge but it should not daunt us.
If Rwanda could achieve this task that to us seems insurmountable ,aren’t we taking the easy way out?
Such a bold move as was envisaged in the constitution rattled Kenya’s patriarchal society ,but this should in no way cow the Kenyan women into giving up.The writers of the constitution which has been hailed as one of the most progressive meant to right a historical wrong.
By amending the clause it will take us back to the dark ages.
We as a society should be bold enough to stand up with our grandmothers, mothers,sisters and daughters and fight for the ideals Constitution envisages.
We need change,change in the way we view governance,politics,our core values as a country and women representation was the first step into laying the groundwork for more participatory politics by Kenyans from all walks of life.
Let us not give up dear Kenyan women , men we are asking for your support too.More women representation can bring nothing but good to the country.And i am asking women activists,civil society bodies not to alienate the men as they seek for more support to ensure that the right that was granted in the constitution which we overwhelmingly voted for is not taken away.
We all remember what happened in 2008 after our disputed elelections and the lives that were lost,the blood that was shed,electing more women can be nothing but good news for a society like ours which hides its ethnic disguises under a thin veil of complaceny till the next election.
Lets keep talking,let us not give up.