Devolved system of governance remains under threat
The proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill 2014 that seeks to reduce the number of counties and eliminate the seats that are held by women through affirmative action is an affront to devolution.
A meeting that brought together the 47 governors and women’s movement castigated the move.
According to Daisy Amdany, Executive Director, CRAWN Trust, devolution has made women feel they are part of Kenya.
“We are celebrating women because they have value addition that they bring to leadership,” said Amdany when she addressed the conference on Women Leadership and Devolution that was organised by the National women Steering Committee in conjunction with National gender and Equality Commission as well as Action Aid.
Amdany notes that devolution is facing challenges because “we are transiting into something new. We will celebrate devolution because we see issues of women”.
According to Vijay Kumar, Country Director Action Aid: “Devolution is good because it brings leadership closer to the people and inclusion through affirmative action.”These sentiments are echoed by Winnie Lichuma, chair National Gender and Equality Commission who notes that Kenyans voted for the new constitution because of devolution.
“Devolution needs to stay but we need the presence of women,” notes Lichuma. She adds: “We cannot have sustainable development in Kenya without gender equality.”
Addressing the same meeting, Isaac Ruto, Governor, Bomet County and chair Governors’ Council assured women members of county assemblies of his support and reiterated that county governments are gender sensitive.
“Those who think women representation is an expense that can be lumped together with the Wage Bill are misled,” Ruto said. “Nobody who is elected should be misled to think they can take away what the constitution gives.
Ruto not that women’s representation is a right and not an expense.
“To progress you must embrace all numbers of society and include women.”
According to Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, women’s creation was purposed. She notes: “Any attempts at diluting the spirit of the Senate is an attempt at destroying the spirit of devolution.”
Ongoro urged women in the county assemblies to form strategic alliances “and move forward even as we protect that which has been given to us”.
She added: Instead of talking of reducing women’s numbers, we should see how to increase women’s numbers so that we do not have a constitutional crisis.”
Echoing the same sentiments, Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate noted that members of county assemblies derive their power directly from the people either through election or nomination.
He questioned: “When you have a Constitution that represents all segments of society why do you want to change it?”
Ethuro noted: “We must deal with challenges that women face as they are an obstacle to achieving Millennium Development Goals.” He added: “the issue of affirmative action is about including and not excluding.”
He urged women not to give up even when things are difficult.
In a communique that was released jointly by the governors and the women’s movement, it was noted that devolution must be given a chance.
Reading the Communique of behalf of governors, Ken Lusaka, Governor Bungoma County noted: “Kenyans should be given a chance to reap the full benefits of devolution.”
Speaking on behalf of Transition Authority, Amina Abdi noted: “We need to build the equality agenda in Kenya by building our voices together and having unity of purpose.”.