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Groups want referendum on gender rule

by kenya-tribune

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Some civil society organisations have reignited the call to amend the Constitution through popular votes in a bid to realise the two-third gender requirement in leadership positions.

The Green Amendment Campaign seeks to collect one million signatures in order to push for a referendum to empower women.

The organisations – Womankind Kenya (Wokike) and Action Aid Kenya – are working with different groups in several counties to advocate for the campaign in order to collect more signatures to push through an amendment.

The campaign proposing women to be elected, not nominated, has suggested two formulas dubbed Formula 94 and Formula 136 to meet the constitutional requirement.

As collection of signatures continues countrywide, county governments have been faulted for under-performing in terms of ensuring that gender responsiveness is embedded in their budgeting process.

According to Mr Salim Odeny, a governance and development consultant, only 30 percent of budgets in counties reflect gender needs.

Mr Odeny, also a human rights activist, said counties should review their budgets and polices to ensure that they equally cater for both men and women.

Once collected, the one million signatures will then be presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for verification.

“After verification, a Bill will be introduced to the county assemblies then to the National Assembly and next we (Kenyans) move to referendum,” said Mr Odeny.

The proposal seeks to fix the number of wards to 1,450 where two adjacent wards would elect one woman bringing the number of elected women to 725.

The drive will scrap off nomination slots in county assemblies.

Formula 94 seeks to scrap off 80 constituencies in order to address the wage bill question.

The proposal wants to create 94 seats for women from the current 47.

On the other hand, Formula 136 seeks to create 136 seats for women, up from the current 47, but retains the 290 constituencies.

The campaign also seeks to have one man and one woman elected to the senate from every county.

Mr Odeny said women are under-represented.

Lack of political goodwill, gender imbalance in favour of men, cultural barriers, intimidation and stereotypes have been cited as major challenges in the quest to empower women in Kenya.

Parliament had been tasked with the responsibility of enacting a legislation that would help in the realisation of two-third constitutional provision but according to Mr Odeny, this has not been achieved due to lack of political goodwill.

There have been attempts to address the gender requirement through an amendment Bill presented in Parliament by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale but it failed to take off.

Isiolo County Tourism executive Tiyah Galgalo, who spoke during a workshop spearheaded by Womankind Wokike to sensitise MCAs and the county executive on inclusivity, gender responsiveness policies and budgeting process and Green Amendment campaign, said clan politics and cultural barriers are derailing the realisation of gender requirement in the region.

“Several women would wish to vie for political seats but clan dynamics in Isiolo limit women who are victims of identity crisis. Women are born in a specific clan but married off to a different clan, limiting our chance to get elected,” said Ms Galgalo, also the former Isiolo woman rep.

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