Commission Lauds Record SIGs Elected in the 2022 General Elections
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for equality and freedom from discrimination for all persons, including guaranteeing the equal enjoyment of rights: civil, political, economic, social-cultural rights, and group rights. Article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, provides for the political rights of every Kenyan, including the right for every citizen to make political choices, the right to free, fair elections based on universal suffrage, and the free expression of the will of the electors, right to vote by secret ballot, the right to be a candidate for public office or office within a political party of which the citizen is a member and the right if elected to hold office. The principles of equality, freedom from discrimination and inclusion are fundamental requirements that cut across the various articles of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, national laws, and related policies and administrative regulations.
The overall mandate of The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) is to promote Gender Equality and Freedom from Discrimination for all persons in Kenya, with a focus on Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that include women, youth, children, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), older members of society, minority and marginalized groups. Section 8 (b) of the National Gender and Equality Commission Act No. 15 of 2011 mandates the Commission to: “monitor, facilitate and advise on the integration of the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination in all national and county policies, laws, and administrative regulations in all public and private institutions.” Under Section 8 (d), the Commission is mandated to “coordinate and facilitate mainstreaming of issues of gender, persons with disability, and other marginalized groups in national development and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof.”
During the August 9, 2022, General Elections, the Commission deployed 112 monitors across the country to monitor the participation of SIGs in the electoral process. The Commission made observations on 1,012 campaign sessions, 263 observations on electoral preparedness, and made observations in 315 polling stations. The monitoring activities focused on the preparedness and involvement of SIGs as candidates, voters, agents, and observers of the General Elections.
On the campaigns, the Commission noted that they were relatively peaceful and inclusive. However, there were reported incidences of intimidation meted out to SIGs candidates and voters. The lack of enforcement of the Campaign Financing Regulations worked against many women, youth and PWD candidates. These candidates were unable to mount wide-reaching effective campaigns.
On polling, the SIGs, among them pregnant and lactating mothers, older members of the society and persons with disabilities, were accorded priority during the polling exercise. The Commission observed that most polling stations were relatively accessible to persons with disabilities and where they weren’t, the IEBC officials and members of the public, took measures to ensure PWDs voters accessed the polling stations. The Commission also observed that a majority of clerks employed by IEBC for polling were youth.
The Commission documented challenges with biometric identification through the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) Kits deployed by IEBC. Such challenges were more common among the elderly and persons involved in unskilled jobs. In some polling stations, IEBC used other methods to identify such voters while in other polling stations, these voters were kept waiting for long before a solution to allow them to vote could be found.
The Commission continues to follow the tallying, announcement and declarations of elected candidates of the various electoral seats by the IEBC. Preliminary results indicate progress towards greater representation of women, youth, PWDs, and minority and marginalized groups in various levels of governance as enumerated in the following paragraphs.
Elected Women Governors
Compared to 2017 when 3 women governors were elected, the 2022 results indicate a more than double increase in the number of women elected as governors. Seven (7) women were elected as Governors (in Kirinyaga, Nakuru, Machakos, Kwale, Meru, Homabay, and Embu Counties). This is the highest number of elected women governors since the advent of devolution. In addition, there are eight (8) elected women Deputy Governors (in Trans-Nzoia, Kiambu, Murang’a, Narok, Makueni, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Bungoma Counties).
Elected Women Senators
Three (3) Women have been elected Senators in Nakuru, Kajiado, and Machakos Counties. This figure is similar to the number of elected women senators elected in 2017, with Nakuru County maintaining consistency in electing a Woman Senator.
Elected Women Members of Parliament
So far, thirty(30) women have been declared elected members of parliament spread across 18 counties. This is a thirty per cent (30%) increase in the number of women elected from the single constituency Member of Parliament in 2017 where only 23 were elected. Nakuru County leads with four (4) elected women MPs, followed by Homabay, Murang’a, and Kitui Counties with three (3) Members each. Kiambu, Makueni, and Uasin Gishu Counties have each two (2) elected women MPs; while Nairobi, Kisumu, Lamu, Narok, Nandi, Kilifi, Laikipia, Mombasa, Samburu, Nyandarua, and Busia have each one (1) elected woman MP.
Elected Young Persons
So far, the Commission has documented 17 elected young persons in various positions. One (1) male youth governor (Elgeyo Marakwet), two (2) male youth senators (Nyandarua and Migori), three (3) male youth Members of Parliament (from Oljoororok Constituency-Nyandarua; Mumias East Constituency in Kakamega; and Saboti Constituency in Transnzoia), one (1) female youth (Bomet County Woman Member to the National Assembly), and 10 male youth to the County Assemblies of Nyandarua, Makueni, Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, and Kericho
Elected Persons with Disabilities
The Commission has documented five (5) elected Persons with Disabilities; two (2) male Members of Parliament (Westlands constituency in Nairobi, and Webuye East Constituency in Bungoma County); one (1) female- the Makueni County Woman Member to the National Assembly; and two (2) male Members of County Assemblies of Kiambu and Siaya.
Elected Women Members of the County Assembly,
So far, 11 Counties have elected women members of the County Assembly (MCA) with Kisumu recording the highest (five (5) women MCA).
On the progress made in compliance with the not more than two-thirds gender principle, the Commission notes that Article 81 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for the general principles of Kenya’s electoral system. Specifically Article 81 (b) states that ‘not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender. While provisional results of the 2022 general elections indicate a positive trajectory in the absolute numbers of women elected in various seats, the realization of the not more than two-thirds gender rule is still yet to be realized in Parliament: The National Assembly and Senate. For the County Assemblies, the two-thirds gender rule will be realized after nominations in compliance with Article 177 (b). The Commission believes that the enactment of mechanisms to promote affirmative actions for women, youth and PWDs in the political spaces is the missing link in this endeavour. To this end, the 13th Parliament should consider as a key priority the enactment of laws to give effect to Article 81(b) and Article 100 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. The Commission shall continue to facilitate the Parliament realize this goal.
On post elections related programs, the Commission welcomes the pronouncement by the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) to offer psycho-social support to political leaders following the aftermath of the 2022 General Elections. The distress appears to have had a particularly devastating effect on young aspiring politicians. The psycho-social support program will go a long way in cushioning defeated candidates from further distress, adjusting to reality, and finding an entry point in serving the country in other leadership positions. We call upon other actors to support this course proposed by the ORPP.
Finally, the Commission lauds all Special Interest Groups and Kenyans in general for participating and conducting themselves peacefully during the entire electioneering period. We continue to urge Kenyans to observe peace even after the the announcement of President-Elect.