Women Representatives in Kenya Description
Women Representatives in Kenya: The National Assembly of Kenya consists of 47 women representatives each elected by the registered voters of the counties; each county constitutes a single member constituency.
The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 considerably expands the role and space of women in leadership and governance. It accords women expansive opportunities to contribute effectively in decision making both nationally and at the devolved governance structures. The challenge now is for women in elective positions as well as the aspiring women for elective leadership positions to come out and compete with their male counterparts in other electoral spaces besides those set aside for them. Although Kenya is a leading African state in many respects, it however lags behind others in terms of womenÕs role and position in national leadership and governance.
The Function of women representatives in Kenya
The Function of women representatives in Kenya has puzzled many Kenyans who are not aware of their roles.
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There has been an intense debate on their relevance as well. Some people are not satisfied with them. They say the women representatives are inept and complacent. Some even label them as ‘flower’ girls or a ‘wastage’ of taxpayers’ money.
To others, the women representatives do not know about the role they should play in parliament.
Each of the 47 counties has an elected women representative at the National Assembly. The public sees them as completely different from other MPs. However, they are all similar based on their functions.
The only difference is that the role of women representatives goes beyond that of other MPs. That is why the Constitution created positions for them in parliament.
WOMEN REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENT THE WOMEN, WHOM THE CONSTITUTION RECOGNIZES AS A MARGINALIZED GROUP (ARTICLE 100).
1. Women Representatives are supposed to primarily promote the interests of women and the girl child within their counties (and by large, nationwide) by coming up with legislation that favors and suits the women and girls within their dominions.
2. Through legislation, the Women Representatives should lobby and advocate for the rights, freedoms and interests of the women and girls, who are perceived by the society to be the ‘weaker sex’ in order to uplift them to the standard where they are considered at par with their male counterparts.
3. Women representatives in their legislative capacity are supposed to formulate legislative policies that uplift the social, economic and political status of women and girls in the country. Nevertheless, this advocacy does not necessarily involve advocating for immediate needs for the women and girls, such as sanitary towels and boreholes.
4. The intention of the position and mandate of the women representatives was for their roles to be long term in addressing the challenges that face the women and girls in this country due to persistent marginalization and neglect by the patriarchal society. This includes ensuring, through legislation and policy formulation, that majority of the female population has a certain level of affordable access to basic needs and wants, rights and freedoms, privileges and protections.
5. The other roles played by women representatives in Kenya are contained in Article 95 of the Constitution and they include budgeting (allocation, appropriation and oversight of national revenue), determining the conduct of State officers, overseeing state organs and approving declarations of war and states of emergency.
6. The women representatives have also been allocated a fund known as the Affirmative Action Social Development Fund. This fund is similar to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The fund is supposed to assist the women to implement projects in their counties that are in line with their mandate of female gender empowerment.
7. Nevertheless, the Women Representatives do not deserve the fund. A recent High Court ruling declared CDF unconstitutional and the Constitution prohibits legislative members from performing executive functions, which includes management of funds.
Origin position of women representatives
Article 97 of the Constitution creates the position of women representatives. It stipulates in section (1) (b) that the membership of the National Assembly consists of,
FORTY-SEVEN WOMEN, EACH ELECTED BY THE REGISTERED VOTERS OF THE COUNTIES, EACH COUNTY CONSTITUTING A SINGLE MEMBER CONSTITUENCY.
Women representatives are an outcome of the two-thirds gender law that aims at increasing the representation of women in parliament. The Constitution refers to this law several times.
The Constitution under article 100 classifies women as a special interest group. Article 27 (3) guarantees them equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunity, in the political sphere. Article 27 (6) stipulates that,
TO GIVE FULL EFFECT TO THE REALIZATION OF THE RIGHTS GUARANTEED UNDER THIS ARTICLE, THE STATE SHALL TAKE LEGISLATIVE AND OTHER MEASURES, INCLUDING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAMMES AND POLICIES DESIGNED TO REDRESS ANY DISADVANTAGE SUFFERED BY INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS BECAUSE OF PAST DISCRIMINATION.
Article 27 (7) says any measure taken under clause (6) should adequately provide for any benefits to be based on genuine need.
Article 27 (8) also stipulates the following–
IN ADDITION TO THE MEASURES CONTEMPLATED IN CLAUSE (6), THE STATE SHALL 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.
Article 81 on the general principles for the electoral system says on section (b) that,
NOT MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF THE MEMBERS OF ELECTIVE PUBLIC BODIES SHALL BE OF THE SAME GENDER.
The role of Women Representatives in Kenya is crucial
Women Representatives in Kenya have a huge role to play in the politics and governance of this country. Those calling for parliament to do away with them should reconsider.
The Women Representatives in Kenya face challenges. Although they have not lived up to their mandate fully, Kenyans should support them. What they need most is strength and capacity to play their roles effectively.
List of Women Representatives in Kenya
- Baringo County – Grace Kiptui – URP
- Bomet County – Cecilia Ngetich URP
- Bungoma County – Reginalda Wanyonyi NFK
- Busia County – Florence Mutua ODM
- Elgeyo Marakwet County – Susan Chebet URP
- Embu County – Rose Mitaru TNA
- Garissa County – Shukra Gure WDM-K
- Homa Bay County – Gladys Wanga ODM
- Isiolo County – Ali Tiyah Galgalo TNA
- Kajiado County– Mary Seneta TNA
- Kakamega County – Rachel Ameso ODM
- Kericho County – Hellen Chepkwony URP
- Kiambu County – Annah Nyokabi TNA
- Kilifi County – Aisha Jumwa ODM
- Kirinyaga County – Winnie Njuguna TNA
- Kisii County – Mary Sally Keraa ODM
- Kisumu County – Rose Ogendo ODM
- Kitui County – Nyiva Mwendwa WDM-K
- Kwale County – Zainab Chidzuga ODM
- Laikipia County – Jane Machira TNA
- Lamu County – Shakila Abdalla Mohamed WDM-K
- Machakos County – Susan Musyoka WDM-K
- Makueni County – Rose Mumo WDM-K
- Mandera County– Mahbub Fathia URP
- Marsabit County – Nasra Ibren ODM
- Meru County– Florence Kajuju TNA
- Migori County – Dennitah Ghati ODM
- Mombasa County – Mishi Juma Kamisi ODM
- Muranga County – Sabina Wanjiru Chege TNA
- Nairobi County – Rachael Shebesh TNA
- Nakuru County – Mary Mbugua TNA
- Nandi County – Zipporah Kering URP
- Narok County – Roselinda Tuya URP
- Nyamira County – Alice Chae ODM
- Nyandarua County – Wanjiku Muhia TNA
- Nyeri County– Priscilla Nyokabi TNA
- Samburu County – Maison Leshoomo TNA
- Siaya County – Christine Ombaka ODM
- Taita Taveta County – Joyce Lay ODM
- Tana River County – Halima Ware Duri WDM-K
- Tharaka Nithi County- Beatrice Nyaga TNA
- Trans Nzoia County- Janet Nangabo NFK
- Turkana County – Joyce Akai Emanikor URP
- Uasin Gishu County – Eusilah Ngeny URP
- Vihiga County – Dorcas Kedogo ODM
- Wajir County – Fatuma Ibrahim Ali ODM
- West Pokot County– Regina Changorok URP