Speaker of the National Assembly Mr. Moses Wetang’ula has urged Kenyan Women Parliamentarians to continue fighting for more representation in all spheres of governance in the country.
Speaker Wetangula while addressing the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) Induction Workshop for new women parliamentarians elected and nominated to the August House in Naivasha on Thursday, observed that women have been historically under-represented, especially in higher ranks.
“I am alive to the fact that many parliaments world over are yet to achieve gender parity in representation in parliament and this as to change,” he said.
According to Wetang’ula, Rwanda and Cuba are the only parliaments that so far have a female majority, he expressed gratification that there was a steady increase of elected female members of parliament in Kenya`s 13th Parliament as opposed to the previous parliaments and attributed this to the enlightened Kenyan voter.
“The election of more women to Parliament is contingent on more women choosing to and or being nominated to run, and of relevance to our today’s program, for parliamentary positions,” Wetang’ula said.
He stated that pursuant to Article 27(8) of the Constitution, Parliament is now in the process of enacting legislation to establish a formula to guide the computation of the gender ratio in both Houses of Parliament in a bid to realize the two-third gender rule which has been a pain in the neck in the country`s bicameral house for some time now.
“Despite previous failed attempts to realize the two-third gender rule, I believe that this time around we shall succeed. On behalf of the National Assembly, I wish to express my commitment to work towards the operationalization of Article 27(8) of the Constitution,” the Speaker said.
Consequently, Wetang’ula recognized and esteemed the continuous efforts by KEWOPA to effectively shape legislation on the women’s agenda through formulating and implementing programmes intended to facilitate the growth and development of women leaders.
“I am aware that KEWOPA has besides significantly contributing to the realization of significant pieces of legislation, also spearheaded the push for the realization of the two thirds gender principle as dictated by the constitution and mentoring women leaders,” he stated.
He added that despite pre-convinced notions and traditional gender role beliefs, more women have taken up leadership roles and offered themselves for political contests.
Wetang’ula opined that the political evolution in Kenya has seen the country embrace a multi-partism approach and later the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, leading to increased political space by establishing the Senate and the 47 Counties which has seen more women elected to political positions.
“I particularly take cognizance of legislations championed by women parliamentarians such as the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) which has in the past decade addressed, and currently continues to address the needs of vulnerable groups in our society as envisioned in its inception,” the Speaker said.
He said the NGAAF Fund is a great resource which should be guarded and used adequately to address inequalities in our society, geared towards enhancing access to financial facilities for socio-economic empowerment among women, the youth, persons living with disabilities, needy children and elderly persons in the country.
The Senate Speaker Amason Jeffa Kingi on his part also acknowledged the strides the Kenyan women had made in the sphere of governance and other areas.
“We now have 102 women parliamentarians, domiciled in The Senate and The National Assembly, 63 of them newly-elected which is a major achievement from just one at the time of independence,” He observed.
He commended KEWOPA for the strides it had made considering it was formed in 2001 by just three visionary women MPs in the Eighth Parliament and registered under the Societies Act in 2007, but currently has an impressive membership of 103 members in both the National Assembly and the Senate.
“KEWOPA, therefore, provides the much-needed common platform with the sole purpose of carrying the National Women Leaders’ aspirations and agenda and ensuring they win as one,” Kingi said.
He noted that to its credit, KEWOPA has contributed to the realization of a raft of key legislations among them the Sexual Offences Act 2006, Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2014, Marriage Act 2014, Matrimonial Properties Act 2014, the County Government Act 2016 among others legislations.