The Gender Rule Bill, as proposed by majority leader Aden Duale, is important to the august House and will save the country from a constitutional crisis in 2017 if one gender exceeds the not more than two thirds limit.
In the Bill, Duale proposes that special seats for women be increased to meet the one third threshold but this must be limited to a period of 20 years from the next General Election. It also calls for a limit of nomination to two terms.
The Bill is positive and has been well received by a section of legislators. However, the media cannot be left out of this campaign to ensure that the Bill sails through.
Media must take it upon themselves to carry out a sustained campaign to give the Bill visibility. This will help Kenyans understand and appreciate why it’s important to have at least a third of legislators being women.
Through the Constitution of Kenya Amendment, the Bill proposes to amend articles 81, 97, 98 and 177 of the Constitution to pave way for the realization of the two thirds gender threshold.
By ensuring that the Bill sails through, media will have shown commitment to gender equality and non-discriminatory policies.
Media must be in the frontline in changing perceptions and attitudes not only among the ordinary Kenyans but also with legislators to make them understand why it’s important to have the not more than two thirds gender rule implemented in the National Assembly and Senate.
The two arms of Parliament are important because this is where laws are formulated and things cannot be done with women being left out of the circle.
It’s important to have the two third gender rule at this level because it will lead to transformative leadership since both genders will bring in their perspective in a more or less level playing ground. Transformative leadership is critical for good governance, accountability and transparency.
It’s imperative for the media to be in the lead of pushing the agenda to have more women in leadership positions.
While it’s noted that without the participation of both men and women, the two third gender rule cannot be achieved, the media must strive to ensure that the other half of society that is missing in political decision making table is represented.
In its role of informing and educating, the media must therefore, make Kenyans understand that the country will only be better placed if women are included as part of political leadership. The two third gender rule is anchored on affirmative action policy that is laying the foundation for equity and inclusion. This is why it’s important for the media to give the gender rule prominence by constantly reporting on it through campaign journalism.
This constitutional amendment is important because things must be tweaked a bit to have women represented in Parliament. The reason for this is that as things stand now, the National Assembly and Senate which make Parliament remain unconstitutional. If the Constitution is not changed to give room to the implementation of the two thirds gender rule in Parliament as reflected in the County assemblies, there is bound to be a constitutional crisis in the 2017 General Election.
It’s for this reason that the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Parliament must have given legislation on the two third gender rule priority, when the Attorney General sought direction from the Supreme Court on how to go about addressing the problem of exclusion in Parliament.
The Supreme Court in its wisdom ruled that Parliament is under obligation to come up with a legislation on the two third gender principle by August 27, 2015. At the time the Supreme Court ruled that gender equity as an affirmative action right for women is progressive in nature.
Although the August 27, 2015 deadline lapsed, the National Assembly requested for a one year extension to enable it come up with a formula on how the two thirds gender rule will be achieved.
It’s through this that Aden Duale, leader of majority in the national Assembly came up with the Bill that seeks to have seats for women increased for a period of 20 years.
The Duale Bill is quite progressive and the media can within its mandate act as a catalyst to push the legislators to pass the Duale Bill as fast as possible. It can do this by holding the National Assembly to account and ensure they keep the promise on supporting women’s leadership.