Third Eye

Gender parity lessons from Rwanda, Ethiopia

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Constitution of Kenya. Photo/Courtesy

As Kenyans celebrate 10 years after the proclamation of the 2010 Constitution, implementation of the gender equity requirement still remains unresolved.

Parliament has failed to pass requisite legislation to ensure no more than two thirds of either gender occupy public office positions. 

Indeed, Parliament is at the mercy of the Chief Justice who has been petitioned to dissolve it for failing to pass the legislation.

There have been arguments the gender rule is unenforceable with suggestions that it should be removed from the Constitution through an amendment. 

But there has been a proposal that we can learn from Rwanda and Ethiopia on gender parity.

Kenya should be honest and discard its pretences on the subject and take cue from what Rwanda and Ethiopia have achieved in regard to confronting the gender parity question.

The two countries — whose respect for democracy and human rights cannot be said to be among the best — have taken bold steps to confront the issue of gender equity.

Leaders of both nations have moved to embrace Affirmative Action on that front by appointing a 50-50 per cent gender composition of their respective governments.

Rwanda made major changes in which women comprise half of the Cabinet to turn it into a global leader in female parliamentary representation and rank it the fourth country in the world in the gender equality scale.

In pre-genocide Rwanda, it was almost unheard of for women to own land or take a job outside the home.

Two years ago, Ethiopia’s Parliament also approved the appointment of 20 ministers with women making up half of the cabinet and the nomination of Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first woman President.

There is no reason why Kenya should not follow in the footsteps of the two previously war-ravaged countries to also register its commitment to gender equity.

President Uhuru Kenyatta can opt for this route by reshuffling his government and ensuring that half of his new pickings are women and leave Parliament to find its own way of wriggling out of the mess it refuses to find a way out of.

It should be remembered that the legislation is meant to cure injustices including cultural practices and violent elections that block women from securing positions in key decision making organs in a highly patriarchal society.  

Kenyans must continue pushing MPs to pass the gender-rule legislation.

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