The Role of Women Representatives in Kenya

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What is the Role of Women Representatives in Kenya?

The role of women representatives in Kenya has puzzled many Kenyans who are not aware of their roles.

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.

Origin of the position and role 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

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).

Women representatives should promote the interests of women and girls within their counties. This role involves coming up with laws and policies that specifically target women and girls. Through parliament, they should lobby and advocate for equity and equal opportunities for women and girls.

They should sponsor and engage in bills, motions, resolutions, and/or notices that aim to redress any disadvantage suffered by women and girls because of past or present discrimination.

The other role of women representatives is to receive and act on petitions from the public on matters that relate to (discrimination of) women and girls.

Women Representatives in Kenya also have a role to play in mobilizing residents in their counties to identify projects that women and girls can benefit from. They should influence the national government to include or adopt these projects in the budget. Furthermore, they can utilize the role of parliament in the budget process to allocate money for these projects.

See Also:  How and When to Impeach a County Governor in Kenya

In addition, they should establish oversight mechanisms to ensure that the national government implements these projects. In doing so, they shall promote prudent use of public resources and ensure that the projects reach the target population. Their oversight will also ensure the projects have a lasting impact on the beneficiaries.

Women representatives guarantee equality for women

However, the role of women representatives does not involve providing immediate needs for the women and girls.

It is not the work of women representatives to provide sanitary towels or to drill boreholes.

They should advocate and work for long-term policy interventions to find solutions to challenges facing women and girls.

By playing their role efficiently, women representatives can guarantee gender equality.

Women Representatives in Kenya complement the elected and nominated female MPs. The position of women representatives raised the representation of women in the 11th parliament by 23%. However, the figure is below the 33% required by law (two thirds)

The other roles played by women representatives in Kenya are contained in Article 95 of the Constitution. They include budgeting (allocation, expenditure and oversight of national revenue), determining the conduct of State officers, overseeing state organs, and approving declarations of war and states of emergency.

In short, the functions of women representatives are representation, legislation and oversight (and budget allocation).

Women Representatives in Kenya and Affirmative Action Social Development Fund

They have also set aside 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 them to implement projects in their counties.

Ventures which this fund intends to bolster incorporate helping the recuperation of sexual and sex based brutality survivors. Others are supporting youth who have dropped out of school, vagrants and powerless kids and nurturing youngsters.

In financial year 2015/16, they received the fund up to a tune of Kshs 2 billion. They are implementing it under the umbrella of CDF.

Nevertheless, they do not deserve the fund.

A High Court ruling declared CDF unconstitutional in February 2015. The ruling reflected what the Constitution says on separation of powers between the organs of national and county governments. Lawmakers should not perform any executive functions such as management and implementation of funds.

This ruling in essence also invalidated other funds that lawmakers manage such as the Affirmative Action Social Development Fund.

Women Representatives can only play oversight on the implementation of the fund.

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.

Can a man contest for the position of women representative in Kenya?

The answer is NO. It is a position meant exclusively for women.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. How many terms are women reps supposed to run??
    I think it should be restricted to 1term.
    Reason being, they have been empowered and exposed. They can now run against their male counter parts in various position. Leaving their position to other women, that will help into adding their number in the house.

  2. Women always play many roles in the community and they are free to share what they have in their earth so we must respect them coz if not them where would man be? So let respect and appreciate them.

  3. The role of women representatives in Kenya is to make a bad system worse, by introducing new laws that are even worse than the despicable old ones, and by drumming them through on a gender platform.

    I have in Kenya seen good female politicians (Martha Karua) and top civil servants / executives (Dorothy Angote, Sicily Kariuki), but never good female MPs.

  4. I read the piece.. but still convinced that we don’t need county MPs..That’s why I voted against this futuristic constitution.

  5. Do not be discouraged women! You can’t believe the things that they will say about you. You keep doing the work you were called to do. Women are caring for the community and are often willing to share power much more efficiently than males, who are often driven by their ego. Males compete and vie for dominance, even when they try to band together in coalition. Perhaps women are part of the long Randell defeat of the endless tribal wars.

  6. Hello .Githiji by next year April I will be 35yrs .I have a burning desire to be The Next women rep in my county. kindly give me the qualifications for this post

  7. Thamk you Mr. Githinji. This is a very formative info. I would wish to vie for women
    rep in my county as a private candidate. How do I go about it?

  8. Thanks Githinji for a great article! This has assisted me to understand fully the roles of the women rep! I would also like to know if there is another way the women can bring development to the whole society other than projecting to women and girls?

    • Unfortunately, you cannot. It is a position created specifically for women in the constitution. Only women can express their interest for the position as candidates.

  9. Government have to think of a boychild….forgotten by society and government thats why they are in streets

  10. Hi George thanks for the wonderful article. I wish to produce a newsletter for the office of the Women rep in my county, will your permit me to use the content in this article.

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