Plot to push vote on gender bill as lobbying intensifies

Mercy Mwai, George Odiwuor and Philip Yegon @PeopleDailyKe

Voting on a bill that seeks to achieve gender representation balance in Parliament may not take place tomorrow as initially scheduled to allow further lobbying for members supports.

It emerged that top National Assembly leadership wants voting on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 pushed to next week as most leaders are engaged in the ongoing blue economy conference.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to chair the Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting today but it was cancelled due to the conference.

According to insiders, the proposal to shelve the vote was mooted at the weekend after House leadership discovered the bill could easily flop if Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are not given a chance to rally their members to support it.

Nasa-allied MPs are expected to hold their parliamentary group meeting despite Raila having left for Zimbabwe for the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

Two-thirds threshold

Last week, House Speaker Justin Muturi appealed to members to turn for the Wednesday session as the bill requires two thirds—at least 233 of the 349 MPs—of the members to be present for a vote to take place.

Failure to reach this threshold would mean the bill cannot progress to the next level and can only be re-introduced in the House after six months.

Meanwhile, several leaders continued to express divergent views on the bill sponsored by Leader of Majority Aden Duale.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and MPs Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Women’s Rep), Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul) and Ong’ondo Were (Kasipul) supported the bill.

However, Bureti MP Japheth Mutai faulted the creation of more positions.

Waiguru said the challenges of attaining the two-thirds gender rule in political representation can be attributed to societal factors, which she said should be addressed in the long term.

She appealed to MPs to speak in one voice and pass the bill, saying the fact that there are only three female governors in the 47 counties attests that “patriarchy is still embedded in the Kenyan society”.

She said: “It is therefore important that we deal with the challenge of gender inequality in political representation by nomination in the short term,” she said in a statement.

Her sentiments were echoed by Were, Wanga and Obara. They said the bill would help address challenges that women face when seeking elective seats.

 But Mutai said the mood of the majority of the legislators is not for the creation of more positions because the country is experiencing hard economic times.

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