Two-Thirds Gender Rule in Kenya's National Assembly and the Senate

Two-Thirds Gender Rule in Kenya's National Assembly and the Senate

The monthly Gender Forum took place on November 27, hosted by Heinrich Böll Foundation
The monthly Gender Forum took place on November 27, hosted by Heinrich Böll Foundation — Image Credits

Two Thirds Gender Rule in the National Assembly and the Senate

To fully realize the two thirds gender rule in the national Assembly and the Senate, Kenyans will have to agree to a minimum constitutional amendment. This was the message that was given at the monthly Gender Forum on November 27.

The forum organized by Heinrich Böll Foundation discussed the “two-third gender majority principle in political representation in Kenya.”

Constitutional Lawyer, Martin Oloo who was one of the panelists said the amendment is necessary to entrench the formula in the constitution as is in the case of county assemblies. "Whereas there exists enormous challenges and the domination of patriarchy in achieving the gender rule, there is hope beyond the deadline of 2015" he emphasized. Mr. Oloo explained that there was no fear of not achieving the implementation of the 2/3 rule because reality will set in 2017.

Mr. Oloo approached the discussion from a legal perspective and presented the shocker saying, "whatever mechanism we choose, it will mean amending the constitution through a referendum. If implementation is not realized by 2015, then whatever happens after the 2017 elections, Kenyans will be free to move to court to strike down any house that will not have been constituted in compliance with the 2/3 principle.”

This means that we have no option but to adopt amendments that are inevitable especially the inadequacy of articles 97 & 98 which do not state the limit of representation, especially in comparison with article 177 of the constitution which is specific on how representation should be implemented.

The forum also discussed the implementation of the 2/3 principle in the political representation before the deadline 2015. Several processes are in place to ensure the realization of this rule as explained by Shiro Mogeni, the other panelists who represented the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA). FIDA is a member of the taskforce mandated to ensure implementation of this principle through four mechanisms which are:

  • Amendment to political Parties and election Act

  • Lift Article 177, which basically refers to the number of seats and 2/3 representation in the membership of county assembly

  • Party Ticketing, a process where voting is done for the party and not the individual

  • Rotational of constituencies on gender basis

The taskforce has vowed to keep pushing for this reform process. Shiro Mogeni quoted “as part of the working, we are not going to be cheated; we are going to come out and educate the public on the importance of this process”

The above mentioned mechanisms are plausible especially with the fact that they have a great following and they have made good strides towards realizing those amendments, but the greatest obstacle emerges on the basis of legality of the processes.

The forum brought together a wide pool of stakeholders in gender issues; the most notable included the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Federation of women Lawyers (FIDA), Association of Muslim Organization, Kenya Climate Justice Women Champions (KCJWC), #MyDressMyChoice activism group and Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA).

The panelist constituted highly experienced and respected champions of gender equality in the country. It comprised of Mr. Martin Oloo, constitutional lawyer and lecturer at the University of Nairobi; Ms. Wambui Kanyi, Centre of Research at the Africa Women Studies Centre, University of Nairobi; and Shiro Mogeni, FIDA; representing the civil society on the taskforce formed by the Attorney General mandated to implement the two-third gender principle.

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