D-Day in Parliament as MPs vote on contentious Gender Bill
The National Assembly is expected to vote on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, (National Assembly Bill No. 4 of 2018) popularly known as the Two-third Gender Bill on Wednesday.
The Bill, which is currently on its second reading, requires the support of at least 233 members of the House to pass.
The Bill aims to address the gender disparity in parliament by providing for extra nomination slots for women. For eight years, women have been pushing for a bigger role in politics through the enactment of a law that would fulfill the requirements of the 2010 constitution, which states that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.”
About 42 new seats are required in the National Assembly on top of the current 75 women MPs – 22 elected, 47 county women representatives and 6 nominated, being a third of the 349 members.
The Senate has 18 nominated women Senators and three elected and requires about five slots for women to meet the requirements of Article 81 (b) of the Constitution, which provides that not more than two-thirds of appointive and elective public positions shall be filled by the same gender.
In 2017, Justice John Mativo of the High Court ruled that if the parliament fails to pass the Bill into law, any Kenyan can petition the Chief Justice to advise the President to dissolve parliament on the basis of lacking the required constitutional representation.
The President, his Deputy and other major political leaders have already made public their views on the Bill, urging lawmakers to support it, although a section of male leaders are opposed.