The topic of political leadership is highly emotive in Kenya. Raising a political motion, even among your peers, sets you up to receive several labels to your name. “You are tribal! You are a feminist! So that’s how you got your job, or car, or home?” The list is endless. Labels notwithstanding, young people need to take on the issues arising from the current and past leadership regimes. Speak up – you may speak for the minority, but still, you speak.
Let’s discuss the contentious Affirmative Action clause aimed at increasing women’s participation in leadership. What is wrong with having all Kenyans represented in the August House? Since independence, women have sought to have a hand in national leadership. The Plan of Action set in place by women from around the world in Beijing in 1985 saw the Gender Movement make significant progress globally. Many African countries, such as Malawi, have embraced the idea of women in power. Kenya, as a pacesetter in many other sectors, should strive for similar or even greater achievements.
Our constitution has been lauded by several world leaders and governments as one of the best governing tools of the 21st century. It is well written, easily understandable and with the most comprehensive Bill of Rights, Kenyans have ever had. We thank H.E. Mwai Kibaki for delivering the first step in the journey of Kenya’s future. The next was to implement its every article in 5 years. Kenyans were wide-eyed and hopeful. Change was coming, we could smell it.
Welcome to 2015 and we have seen, a devolved government, non-political members of the Cabinet, purge in the judiciary, purge in the National Police Service, and re-enactment of new laws to protect the citizen’s rights. Yet, the number of women in Parliament still does not meet the recommended quota. The two-thirds rule requires that in the August House alone, there should be at least 33% representation of either gender. This was set specifically to ensure increasing participation by Kenyan women in matters of governance.
The fast approaching August 2015 implementation deadline has occasioned various reactions and sentiments from our leaders and citizens alike. Still, no one is willing to explain how it can be implemented. Perhaps, it is this tumult that will cause a ripple effect to the next government set to be elected in 2017. We must be willing to discuss how it should be done. We could educate the women, old and young alike; not only to empower them to sustain themselves, but also to create leaders at all levels. Encourage women to vie for real political power and speak honorably about them.
Gender equality in all aspects may not be possible but stopping discrimination on the basis of gender surely is. Raise a woman president and stir up generational change. Promote women leaders and build good governance. Create women leaders to walk in step with their male counterparts. Respect the constitution and speak for Affirmative Action. This is not a women’s issue. It is a Kenyan issue.
NOTE: This is a guest post submitted by Wambui Maingi, a young Kenyan lawyer. All the intellectual property rights in this article belong to her.