Is Gender Balance Really Technically Impossible to Achieve?

Posted by on 28th August 2011

Categories:   Kenya Constitution

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa.

“Technically impossible to achieve,” are the words used by the presidential press service to
describe the implementation of the constitutional provisions on gender balance. The statement
reads “With regard to the requirement for one third representation in parliament by either gender,
Cabinet decided to set up a taskforce (includes Mutula Kilonzo, James Orengo, Charity Ngilu, Otieno
Kajawang, Beth Mugo, Naomi Shaban, Kiraitu Murungi, Amason Kingi, Dalmas Otieno) to
prepare a Constitutional Amendment Bill to deal with this important requirement that is technically
impossible to achieve under the current stipulation.”

I’m assuming, and correct me if I am wrong, that the expression ‘under the current stipulation’
refers to the constitutional requirement that ‘not more than two-thirds of the members of elective
public bodies be of the same gender’ Article 81 (b). Which in real terms translates to requiring
that out of 290 MPs at least 96 be women. Or maybe the phrase is in reference to Article 27 (8)
which obligates the state to take ‘legislative and other measures to implement the principle that
not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same
gender? It’s difficult to discern the exact meaning.

Whatever the case,  the Cabinet’s solution to implementation of the gender balance provision does
not seem to involve finding solutions that would make it possible to implement the constitution
as is. Its seems the Cabinet would rather take steps to remove or change the requirement that
at least a third of the MPs in the next election be women through a constitutional amendment.
(Constitutionally parliament can change the constitution over a period of ninety days if a two third
majority support the amendment and after the amendment bill is publicised and public discussion
occurs). I wonder why that is?

As a concerned Kenyan and a woman who potentially stands to be adversely by the removal
or change of the gender balance requirement I would like an explanation on what is meant by
phrase ‘technically impossible’. Does technically impossible mean that there are an insufficient
number of qualified women who are willing to run for elective positions in the next general
election? Or, that the electorate will not vote for the women candidates? Or that parliament will
not effect legislation or take measures to ensure that gender balance requirement is met?