Women and New Kenyan Constitution

Rosemary Okello,

CISA 089, August 24, 2010

As the country gears up to the promulgation of the new Constitution on August 27, the women of Kenya under the umbrella of G-10 are already worried that their hopes might be shattered if the spirit of the Constitution is not captured from the onset in the Constitutional Oversight Implementation Committee.

During a planning meeting to set up their priority areas within the implementation process, the women said they do recognise and affirm the importance of the implementation process and that is why they are calling upon the political leadership to honour the letter and spirit of the new Constitution by ensuring that women’s issues are taken seriously and are not glossed over.

Grace Maingi Kamau, the Executive Director of FIDA-Kenya is on record saying that women have been part of the constitutional process for a long time and expect that the implementation should go hand-in-hand with the national values and principles of governance which are clearly stipulated and include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised.

Even though they are cognisant of the fact that it will no longer be business as usual women are aware that several critical offices shall be central to the full implementation of the New Constitution.

These include the office of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, The Director of Public Prosecutions, The Judicial Service Commission and the envisaged reforms in the Judiciary, therefore they do not only expect the adoption of a transparent and accountable criteria in the appointment of officers to these offices but also meaningful and effective participation by the women.

To make sure that the woman become part of the implementation process, they have set up a task force to work with the two principals namely; President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Parliamentary select committee, the implementation commission as and when it is set up, MPs and other stakeholders in the implementation process.

Deborah Okumu the Executive Director of the Caucus for Women Leadership points out that they are developing a database of names of women who can either be part of the implementation process or be appointed in the various posts in line with the Constitution.

According to her since no appointment will be lawful unless it respects the principle where no one gender will constitute more than two-thirds, this will make it easy for the relevant institutions to tap into the data which she said is very representative in terms of various professional, it also represents all the region in Kenya and it has inter-generational dimension.

With the new Constitution in cases in terms of the leadership positions, when the chair is a woman, the vice chair shall be a man and vice versa. The women would also like to see the enhancement of the human rights and political advancement of women through the new constitution.

The women are also planning to launch an auditing tool, which they will use to audit the implementation process from a gender perspective. Reports from the same will be issued every fortnight or as will become necessary.

This means that Kenyans must remain engaged, extremely vigilant of the implementation process and together as men and women to work together to enhance principles of democracy where each citizen is equally valued and has rights to participate in governance, regardless of ethnicity, gender, and disability status, among others.

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