Given our context that the implementation of the two third gender principle would run into problems was inevitable. Anything involving a massive change of the status quo is usually problematic (currently women make up less than a tenth of the parliament and implementation of the two third gender rule would change this dramatically).
Until relatively recently the term ‘gender penalty’ is one that neither I, nor most Kenyans, had heard, on a personal level I wasn’t even aware that such a term existed. However last week the Chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation, Micah Cheserem, advised Kenyans to elect more women to office to avoid being subject to the ‘gender penalty’.
So what is the gender the penalty exactly? According to reports the gender penalty refers to the additional money that Kenyans will have to pay to those nominated to the to the Parliament, the Senate and county assemblies if the two thirds gender principle enshrined in Articles 81 (1) (b), 175 (c), 177 (b), and 197 (1) of the constitution is not met (The Articles require that not more than two-thirds of the members of an elective public bodies be of the same gender.)
According to the calculations of the Commission on Revenue Allocation it will cost taxpayers an additional 4 billion shillings per year, to meet the salaries of those nominated to fill the possible gender gap. The spokesperson for the Commission on Revenue Allocation is quoted as stating “We will be nominating a lot of people who are not representing anybody but are there as a constitutional requirement, and that will mean a higher wage bill. The Commission on Revenue Allocation is concerned because the 15% to counties might end up paying salaries at the expense of development. That is why we should have elected women and not nominated ones.”
Effectively letting it be known to Kenyans that if we do not elect women there will be a price to be paid and it will not be cheap. And this against the backdrop of the Finance Minister’s warning to Kenyans that additional taxes would have to be raised to meet cost of the pay rise for teachers, lecturers, and doctors. Effectively the lack of political will to find a way to implement the two the third gender principle in a cost effective manner will cost the taxpayer 4 billion shillings per year.
What are your thoughts on the gender penalty, and the implementation of the two third gender principle?