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Report shows Kenyan women Parliamentarians on equal footing with male counterparts

President Mwai Kibaki displays the new Kenyan constitution to the nation after he promulgated and signed it into law at a public function at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.
President Mwai Kibaki displays the new Kenyan constitution to the nation after he promulgated and signed it into law at a public function at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. [Photo: Africa Talks]
Despite many Kenyans feeling that women representatives are unnecessary baggage for the Kenyan taxpayer, a report released by Mzalendo Trust shows that women are invaluable.

A good number of Kenyans feel that the constitution, which they overwhelmingly approved, created some positions to appease political allies who lost in the elections. The creation of the requirement for women reps was such a move which has been disparaged with many calling for abolition of such positions.

Others feel that those who get the positions do not shift their weight in a way it can be felt in the political circles.

The report titled, “Debunking Myths: Women Contributions in Kenya’s 11th Parliament” shows that women parliamentarians – whether elected, nominated or selected under affirmative action provide just as much value as their male counterparts.

To answer questions like this:

the report sought to prove that the women leaders are as good as their male counterparts. It looks at contributions captured in the Hansard published from March 2013 to 30th June 2015 which shows that women did not solely focus on Family Bills (The Marriage Bill, The Children’s Bill, The Protection against Domestic Violence Bill and The Matrimonial Property Bill) but went ahead to contribute to other areas including; security, finances, water, health, devolution, infrastructure, waste management, environmental issues and mining among others depending on either their counties, constituencies or national interest.

“Findings presented in report and infographic disprove biases, stereotypes and accusations against women Parliamentarians by showcasing their actual contributions,” said Jessica Musila, Mzalendo’s Executive Director.

Contrary to public opinion, Women County Representatives (WCR), in particular, do not represent women’s agenda only but all the challenges faced in their counties including problems that affect men. In fact, those from the Northern Region of Kenya were outstanding in their articulation of the security challenge their counties face and the solutions the government should consider.

The analysis also revealed women MPs contributions are also greatly influenced by their level of education, professional background, work and life experience.

In the report, Mzalendo has grouped counties into six climatic zones as presented in the Socio-Economic atlas and then ranked the women MPs based on the potential impact of their contributions on their regions and the nation. Leading legislators in the regions are Florence Kajuju (Mt. Kenya Region) Joyce Emanikor (Northern region), Zainab Chidzuga (Coastal Region), Rachael Nyamai (South Eastern), Millie Odhiambo (Western Region), Joyce Laboso (North Rift), Amina Abdalla (Nominated MNAs) and Agnes Zani (Nominated Senators). Each region had three nominees.

The full implementation of the two third gender principle has been extended to August 27, 2016 but Kenyans’ attitudes towards women reps seemingly may not be extended. This has been exacerbated by the continuous debate on reducing the country’s wage bill which makes Kenyans disdain most constitutional offices which they feel are vestigial.

About Njenga Nelson

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