Governors assure women MCAs of their full support
Women members of county assemblies are finally assured of support from governors in promoting devolution and gender equality.
These were the agreements when the women turned out in their numbers in Naivasha to discuss issues surrounding gender sensitive development and budgeting for service delivery.
The women who were a representation of all the 47 counties used the day to deliberate and make their issues known to both the local and county governments.
The meeting came at a time when there are fears that some local leaders are fighting devolution and calling for the scrapping of women’s positions.
Barely a year into full operation of the new dispensation ushered in by the March 2013 general elections, Joe Mutambu has brought notice and has been given the green light by the Speaker of the National Assembly to table the Constitution Amendment Bill 2014 proposing to scrap Affirmative Action seats and collapsing the counties from 47 to 10 as well as scrapping constitutional commissions.
The import of this bill and its intent must be seen as taking away the opportunities constitutionally guaranteed for the full and equal participation of women, persons with disabilities, minority communities and other marginalized groups.
Of great concern is the fact that this bill is being proposed at a time that the national assembly should be engaged in the search of a mechanism to implement the not more than two thirds same gender principle in the Senate and National Assembly ahead of the August 2015 timeline given by the Supreme Court so as to avoid a constitutional crisis come the next general election.
A joint statement by the civil society in Kenya indicates that the introduction of this bill will be detrimental to devolution and the gender gains which women of Kenya have struggled for decades to ensure is enshrined in the Constitution.
According to participants at the conference, the proposed bill is using the wage bill as an excuse to undermine the objectives and principles of devolution: Proposing to scrap off Affirmative Action provisions in the Constitution is an attempt to deny Kenyan women an opportunity to leadership and decision making.
“The proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill is intolerable. It is imperative to state that women are not a drain on the public coffers as implied by the framers of this proposed Bill,” said Daisy Amdany, Executive Director at Community Advocacy and Awareness (CRAWN) Trust while addressing delegates.
The conference also aimed at giving devolution a chance to show its impact, consolidating partnership with devolved governance structures and the National Women Steering Committee. It stressed on upholding the Bill of Rights and enlightening women of Kenya and all citizens of goodwill of the impending danger to amend the Constitution.
At the end of the conference, Governor Kenneth Lusaka, Secretary of the Council of Governors read a joint communiqué on key agreements made by governors in a meeting that was held between 9-10th May 2014.
The agreements included:
- The governor’ demand that Kenyans should be given an opportunity to reap the full benefits of devolution.
- They (the governors) are jointly determined to safeguard and protect women representation, affirmative action and devolution.
- They are determined to maintain the spirit of the constitution and ask promoters of the proposed constitutional amendment bill 2014 to shelf it as it is retrogressive.
- Governors are committed to ensure that their budgets are inclusive, gender sensitive and responsive so as to impact the lives of women, youths and marginalized society.
- Finally they stressed on the need to give development a chance to impact on the lives of Kenyans.
The meeting dubbed “Umoja wa Jinsia, Msingi wa Uongozi na Maendeleo” also brought together the organizations that support women’s empowerment.
The non-governmental organisations in Kenya also made public their joint commitment to support devolution. They promised to support partnership and cooperation both horizontally and vertically and urged Kenyans to end witch-hunting and bickering in order to develop the nation.
The group also committed to ensure gender sensitive development and budgeting for service delivery.
They also condemned the Constitution Amendment Bill 2014 terming it to be retrogressive and compromising inclusion and equality.
Finally they promised to continue working towards unity and security of Kenyans to secure life and development.
The meeting was organised by the women’s movement under the auspices of the National Women’s Steering Committee (NWSC), working in conjunction with the Senate, Council of Governors and the Ward Representative Association of Kenya (WRAK). It also had the support of the National Gender and Equality Commission as well as Action Aid.