Two-thirds gender bill aborts again over quorum hitch

Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai @PeopleDailyKe

Kenyan women will have to wait a little longer to get extra slots in Parliament after the two-thirds gender bill was shelved for the fourth time.

Yesterday, only 174 members were present as opposed to 233 members required for a vote to take place. After the manual counting, 174 members were present which was 59 members short for the vote on the bill to proceed.

Women MPs had lobbied their male counterparts to be present to vote for the bill but a majority opted to stay away apparently to deny it the requisite numbers.

The two-thirds gender rule debate has failed a record three times in both Houses of Parliament and for it to pass this time round through to the third reading stage, it requires two-thirds majority or at least 233 of the MPs to support it.

The National Assembly currently has 76 women members representing 21.77 per cent of total members, a shortfall of at least 39 to meet the required threshold while the Senate, is only two members shy of the constitutional requirement of at least 33 per cent.

The House has 67 members. Voting on the bill comes after a similar exercise last year was postponed to allow members to attend the Blue Economy conference.

Specified time

By failing to pass the bill, there is a threat of the House being dissolved for failing to adhere to a requirement in the Constitution.  Article 261 provides that if Parliament fails to enact any legislation within the specified time, any person may petition the High Court to dissolve it.

And after the heavy defeat in the House, female MPs accused male colleagues of failing to attend the sitting to bill.

The over 30 MPs  led by Kenya Women Parliamentary Association Wangui Ngirici blamed the failure on the inaction by the Leader of Majority Aden Duale and the national government to mobilise and lobby male MPs to support it.

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