Intense lobbying for gender bill

Mercy Mwai and Bernard Gitau @wangumarci

The debate on the two-thirds gender rule for the third time  kicked off in the National  Assembly amid uncertainty over its passage.

Those for it, led by Leader of Majority Aden Duale, lobbied support  for the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2018 while opponents dismissed it as opening a floodgate  for “slay queens”.

In a heated debate over the bill that seeks  to give effect to the two-thirds gender principle through the creation of special seats, the MPs were alive to its constitutional consequences— likely dissolution of the House!

It hangs over their heads like the sword of Damocles, if it flops for the third time when it comes up for voting either tomorrow or next Tuesday.

House leadership, Duale and Leader of Minority John Mbadi cautioned that in the event the bill flops, any Kenyan could move to court and call for the dissolution of the House over its failure to heed the provisions of the Constitution.

The MPs, who support the bill, said its adoption would go a long way in curing gender discrimination as Parliament had violated the rights of women by refusing to enact legislation to enforce the constitutional principle, adding that the move would elevate Kenya to be at par with Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.

Attempts by MPs Muturi Kigano (Kangema) and Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) to stop debate on the bill on grounds that it was unconstitutional flopped after Speaker Justin Muturi ruled them out of order.

Duale termed the day historic and urged MPs to allow Parliament to go down in history as having fulfilled the constitutional provisions by passing the bill into law.

He said it was through nominations that women leaders including Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar and  her Isiolo counterpart Fatuma Dullo went to Parliament

“I know that each man sitting here has a special place for our mothers, sisters and daughters and I am sure when the right time comes members will pass this bill,” he said.

Mbadi said it had taken the country eight years since the Constitution was enacted in 2010 to pass the bill.

“Any discrimination of people whether men, women or youths must be corrected very fast. This Constitution is the most debated before it was passed,” he said.

Gilgil MP Martha Wangari asked Parliament to pass the bill, saying it would benefit more women. “I would not be here today if I was not nominated before, it is through nomination that I was given a platform to speak and showcase my qualities,” she said.

Kiminini MP Wamalwa said the 12th Parliament must go down in history as the House that actualised the principle of two-thirds gender rule.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo said it is through nominations that women get chances to fight it out with men.

Elsewhere, Public Service Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia urged Parliament to support the bill, saying it aims at reducing the number of nominated women.

She commended President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka for supporting the bill.

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