New Strategy to Strengthen the Participation of Women in Competitive Politics

Nairobi: Monday May 8, 2017. The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender in collaboration with the European Union has released a strategy that aims to strengthen the participation of women in politics.

The Strengthening the Participation of Women in Elective Politics strategy was launched at a forum attended by nominated women leaders, representatives from women organizations, civil society, private sector and Government institutions. Women’s participation in the political sphere remains low as a result barriers such failure to legislate affirmative action laws and policies, intimidation from male counterparts, violence against female candidates and a deep rooted patriarchal culture.

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, expressed her disappointment that the Constitutional two-thirds gender rule had not been achieved. “The causes for the underrepresentation of women in decision-making processes and positions are multiple, complex, and call for a comprehensive approach to tackle the problem.”

Among the recommendations of theStrengthening the Participation of Women in Elective Politics strategy is the application of soft diplomacy to ensure that political parties review their policies and frameworks to ensure that women can meaningfully participate in party activities both as leaders in party structures and as members. It also recommends the review of the Elections Act, 2011, the Political Parties Act, 2011 and the Election Campaign Financing Act, 2013, together with their enabling regulations. It also addresses financing challenges women in politics face.

EU Ambassador, Stefano Dejak said the EU is working with stakeholders to complement efforts to help improve women representation in decision making. “Women have a right to equal participation. Evidence shows that when women are given equal opportunities and access to resources and to decision-making, communities are more prosperous and more peaceful. The EU wants to assist partners in effectively using this significant transformative potential,” he added.

Although the current representation of women is the highest so far, the number of elected women in the National Assembly is only 5.5%, which is very poor compared to Rwanda’s 56 percent, South Africa’s 42 percent, Tanzania’s 36 percent and Uganda’s 35 percent. No woman was elected senator or governor.

 

The Gender CS said that the strategy will guide the adoption of programmes, which will enhance the participation and inclusion of women in elective bodies. “The true solution to the equal participation of women in elective bodies lies in the long term measures of empowering women.”

European Member of Parliament, Alojz Peterle said promoting gender equality is a core activity of the EU and called on all stakeholders to apply inclusive and practical ways towards creating an enabling environment for more women to competitively pursue elective office. “It is my hope that collectively you can take the bold steps necessary to make your Constitutional provisions a reality.”

The EU through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is already working with various stakeholders to motivate and build the capacity of women to run for the seats of Governor, Senator and MCA and on raising awareness on the need for women leadership.