Kenya: VWGR pressures political parties to abide by two-thirds gender rule in nominations ahead of August elections

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Nairobi – As Kenya heads towards elections in August, pressure is mounting on political parties to ensure they meet the gender quota to increase women’s representation in elective positions.

Kenya has fallen behind on the gender quota, with women remaining largely unrepresented for years despite calls from various actors and stakeholders to strike a balance.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ignored former Chief Justice David Maraga’s advice to dissolve Parliament which he said remains illegally constituted for failing to adhere to the two-thirds gender rule as laid down in the Constitution.

And to ensure that the two-thirds gender rule is respected in the next Parliament to be formed after the August elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is lobbying political parties to ensure that their nomination lists are gender sensitive. which they will not be approved.

“The Registrar of Political Parties and the IEBC have made it very clear that they will not accept party lists that do not meet the gender quota and it is now up to the parties to ensure they are on the safe side this rule,” said Sammy Muraya, program officer at Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights Kenya (VWGR-K), a project of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).

Muraya is concerned, however, that the gender quota will not be met through political parties, as nominations are usually made based on the popularity of aspirants, among other considerations.

“Pulling the buck to political parties is very tricky because the party leadership may claim that they will go with the most popular leaders in nominations, however, they have the gender balance entrusted to them,” a- he told Capital News in an interview.

He urged political parties to subsidize registration fees for aspirants to attract more to run for elective office in the August elections.

So far, only the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has announced subsidized nomination fees for female candidates who will pay half of what their male counterparts are required to pay.

In a notice released on Tuesday, the party’s presidential aspirants will pay 500,000 shillings, governors 250,000 shillings, senators 125,000 shillings, women’s representative 250,000 shillings, deputy 125,000 and county assembly members 25 000 shillings. The other parties have not yet defined their nomination rules.

In a letter to political parties, Electoral Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati said political parties must abide by the two-thirds rule which he called “an important issue in realizing the provisions of Article 81 of the Constitution on the general principle for the electoral system”.

Chebukati is adamant that political party nomination lists that do not adhere to the two-thirds rule will not be approved.

IEBC Vice President Juliana Cherera said the commission had created a Women’s Coordinating Committee (WCC) for the elections, while registration fees for women candidates had been reduced by 50%.

Speaking at a stakeholder engagement forum of women leaders and organizations on Friday, IEBC Vice President Juliana Cherera said it was time for women to seize the opportunity to increase the number of women elected by registering and voting.

She said the commission remains guided by the principle of inclusiveness and has formulated goals for women, youth and people with disabilities to help them engage with each other.

According to Cherera, if women harnessed their numerical strength, balanced gender representation in parliament would be achieved.

“In the 2017 general elections, we had 19,600,000 registered voters, 46.6% of whom were women. If women were well-coordinated and harnessed their numerical strength, they could have voted in their own candidates to achieve the 2/3 rule in national and county assemblies. ” she said.

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