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Female legislators decry discrimination, violence

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

Complaints about open discrimination and even violence against women legislators in County Assemblies dominated the first day of the Third Legislative Summit in Mombasa yesterday.

Women legislators condemned acts of exclusion against them and called for gender inclusivity in political and decision making processes. Leaders said more than a half of the counties have demonstrated bias against women.

The Kisii County Assembly was accused of passing an “illegal motion” to block nominated MCAs from making any contributions in the House.

Karen Magara, a nominated MCA in Kisii explained how her efforts to move a motion on market sanitation was turned down after an elected MCA approached the Speaker and asked him to reject the motion.

In a press conference on the sidelines of a pre-summit event, Magara said her move evoked a counter motion to block nominated MCAs from sponsoring  motions.

“The motion went through and I failed to understand why the Speaker allowed it pass,” said Magara.

Speaker Nairobi County Assembly Beatrice Elachi dismissed the law passed by the Kisii County Assembly as unconstitutional.

“The Constitution allows MCAs to vote on anything. I want to plead with Kisii County MCAs to read the law and understand the Standing Orders. Let someone guide them  on what is right,” she said.

Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar and her Nominated  counterpart Abshiro Halake also condemned the move and said even though the motion had been passed, it is illegal.

“Leaders should be gauged on performance. Elected leaders must, therefore, not be allowed to use their positions to block others from proving their capabilities in the assembly,” said Kamar adding that senators will ensure the legislation is overturned.

County Assemblies Women Caucus (CAWC) chair Milkah Wanjiru and County Assemblies Forum (CAF) vice chairperson Esther Ndile said bias and discrimination against women in the assemblies was rampant in more than half of the counties.

According to Wanjiru, projects proposed by nominated MCAs are hardly prioritised during budget making process.

“Nominated MCAs are not supported in House business and are  seen as flower girls, who are only there to top up numbers. That attitude should be rejected,” said Wanjiru adding the caucus will advocate for an MCA fund.

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