The Situation Background
The promulgation of the Constitution on August 27th 2010 ushered in a new beginning for Kenya as it addressed several issues that afflicted Kenyans but above all it secured the right of the participation of women in democratic governance. The Constitution further accords women equal opportunity and equal status as her male counterparts and has addressed discrimination against women in the social, economic and political spheres of life.
Following the first general elections under the new Constitution in 2013, we saw for the first time in independent Kenya the highest number of women ever ascend to leadership and decision making at both the national and county levels as well as in the respective executives. This was as a result of the constitutional provisions that require not more than two-thirds of the same gender in every elective and appointive offices enshrined in Articles 27 (8), 81 (b) and 177 (b). Despite this seemingly successful happening, there has been resistance from the male political elite as they have been feeling threatened by the inclusion of women and worked to short circuit the intent of the constitutional provisions which envision equality and equal representation of men and women in all spheres especially the political sphere. The male political elite have exercised veto power over the Constitution and essentially refused to implement the gender provisions to the letter so as to ensure that women enjoy the full rights accorded to them therein.
The Annual Women’s Rights Convention will be seeking to address the fragmentation in the women’s movement in Kenya that is making it difficult to forge common ground particularly on the political front as the women in the leadership spaces take sides supporting political positions without pushing for the full implementation of the celebrated women’s gains in the Constitution 2010. The situation is further worsened with women fighting each other on behalf of their political sides while the women’s political agenda records losses and a general sense of disappointment at the women in politics. There is also a divide between the women’s rights movement and the women in leadership and working together has become an uphill task.
As we approach the forthcoming general elections in August of 2022, it is imperative that women come together to understand that we are stronger together and forge a common front to safeguard the existing leadership and decision-making spaces while seeking to have more women, especially young women enter into those spaces. Additionally, we will discuss the economic situation of women and how to ensure women’s economic concerns are addressed in the post COVID world. This we must do united as a women’s movement in Kenya or face the probability of making significant losses as the women continue to fall into poverty due to their loose connection to labour markets that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic downturn and political losses as the two-thirds gender principle remains in abeyance and continues being seen as a women’s issue rather than a constitutional and political issue.