Kenya’s top judge has advised the president to dissolve the country’s male-dominated Parliament, saying legislators failed to meet a constitutional provision which would allow for one-third of seats to be occupied by women.

Despite Kenya’s 2010 constitution stating no more than two-thirds of any elected or appointed body can be of the same gender, women hold 22 percent of seats in the country’s lower house of Parliament, and 31 percent in the upper house.

Court rulings since 2012 have directed Parliament to pass legislation to enforce the gender rule or risk being dissolved – but previous attempts have failed with female members of Parliament accusing male legislators of deliberately blocking efforts.

In an advisory sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, Chief Justice David Maraga said the failure to enact the legislation was clear testimony of legislators’ “lackadaisical attitude and conduct” in relation to the two-thirds gender rule.

“There is no doubt that the dissolution of parliament will cause inconvenience and even economic hardship. The fact that Kenya is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbates the potential impact of the decision,” wrote Maraga.

“Yet that is the clear result Kenyans desired for parliament’s failure to enact legislation they deemed necessary. We must forget that more often than not, there is no gain without pain.”

Some political analysts said the advisory does not compel the president to act, but women’s rights groups, who have long campaigned for legislation, said the move was a significant step in the fight for fairer gender representation in politics.

“We imagined it, we worked for it we made it possible,” tweeted Marilyn Kamaru from the #Weare52pc movement, a collective of activists and womens’ groups which had petitioned to have Parliament dissolved three years ago. “Whether the president dissolves parliament or illegally retains it in violation of the Constitution. It is important to remember this moment was made possible by the work of women activists, feminists & the queer community.”

Women make up a third of the 2.5 million people employed in the formal sector, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. While women provide 80 percent of Kenya’s farm labour, they own only 1 percent of agricultural land.

The percentage of women in Kenya’s Parliament is lower than east African neighbours such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Gender experts say women in politics face a barrage of challenges, ranging from physical and sexual violence to a lack of money to fund their campaigns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

French PM: high school students will have to wear masks

PARIS (Reuters) – French secondary school pupils returning to school next month after a coronavirus lockdown will be required to wear masks, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday. Speaking in parliament, Philippe said pupils in junior school would…

Britain standing firm over Huawei 5G deal

  No govt wavering, UK official says, as tech giant defends security record The British government intends to stand by its decision to allow Chinese telecoms company Huawei to have a significant role in the development of the country’s 5G…

Face masks in shops to be compulsory in England, as experts warn of 120,000 winter deaths

London (CNN)Wearing face masks in shops and supermarkets in England will be compulsory from July 24, with those failing to comply with the new regulation facing fines of up to £100 ($125), the UK government will announce Tuesday. “There is…

Records set for undersea flammable ice extraction

  China said it extracted a record amount of flammable ice during its second trial exploration in the South China Sea, with about 28,700 cubic meters collected per day. Flammable ice, which is methane hydrate, occurs when methane gas is…