The NGEC in collaboration with the Women’s Movement under the auspices of the National Women’s Steering Committee-NWSC, working in conjunction with the Senate, the Council of Govenors-CoG, and the Ward Representative Association of Kenya-WRAK convened a conference dubbed “USAWA WA KIJINSIA, MSINGI WA UONGOZI” in Naivasha on the 9th of May, 2014 at Sawela Lodge in Naivasha.
The conference deliberated on gains so far on equality and inclusivity from the affirmative actions entrenched in the 2010 constitution and its implementation roadmap. The conference followed the tone set in the 58 session of CSW side event organized by KEWOPA seeking for improved quality of leadership among women in political and other decisions making positions. The conference observed the need to move beyond an affirmative action and policy to a comprehensive framework for protecting the rights of special interest groups beyond county level. The framework would consolidate and expand gains for special interest groups in representation at national assembly and senate by seeking compliance with article 81(b) which states ‘not more than two thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender’.
The National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson Winfred Lichuma lauded the Government’s commitment in supporting women agenda.
“The President has been in the forefront in supporting women issues and I’m sure he shall reject the move to reduce the number of women seats in parliament as is being proposed,” she said.
She called on any persons with brilliant idea of a framework towards realization of a two thirds gender rule to contact the commission for deliberation on such ideas. They committed the commission to continue auditing private and public institutions of their compliance with all affirmative actions provided for in the 2010 constitutions and issue advisories thereof.
Other speakers in the conference included the Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro, Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, and just re-elected Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto. On his part, Speaker Hon Ekwe Ethuro admitted that the country was agonising over how to achieve the two-third gender rule by 2015, but said women’s rights and those of vulnerable populations must be protected. Ethuro said the Constitution should be respected in terms of gender balance and promised Members of County Assemblies that women’s seats would be protected.
Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro expressed concern that women were yet to gain the one-third representation at national level. She said women leaders were committed to making sure that the two-third gender rule was achieved by 2015. “We are challenging governors to facilitate women MCAs in registering their caucus so that we can have a common front,” she said.
Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto supported the need for adequate representation of women at both county and national levels. He argued that women members of county assembly nominated or elected should enjoy same privileges and work together for a common good. He committed the council to support the gender agenda in planning and budgeting levels.
The conference brought together over 1300 participants representing the Governors Council, women senators, women members of the county assemblies (all 47 counties), minority and majority whips of county assemblies, members of the NWSC, Constitutional Commissions, development partners and civil society organisations. The commission was represented by chair persons, commissioners, senior management in the secretariat, program staff including the regional coordinator for Rift Valley.
The conference delivered a four point communique. The commission is committed to tracking fulfilment of the promises and actions contained in the communique below.
JOINT COMMUNIQUE OF THE NATIONAL WOMEN STEERING COMMITTEE, COUNCIL OF GOVERNORS AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS, THE SENATE, KEWOSA, MCAS
Having reached a Concensus at the Conference on Devolution and gender Equality,
- We encourage and support Partnership and cooperation both Horizontally and vertically and urge Kenyans to end witch-hunting and bickering and promote accountability, as a nation,
- Gender sensitive development budgeting for service delivery
- No to amendments that will compromise inclusion and equity,
- Unity and security of Kenya to secure life and development
Conference on Devolution and affirmative action held in Naivasha