Kenya’s Chief Judge Suggests Parliament Be Dissolved Over Lack Of Women
Politicians doubt that the advisory will force the president into action, but women justice groups believe it is a first step in the fight for equity.
September 23, 2020 at 1:13 am
Kenya’s highest judge advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the country’s male-dominated Parliament, citing a constitutional provision on gender quotas.
The provision in Kenya’s constitution states no more than two-thirds of any elected body can be of the same gender, but Al Jezeera reports that just 22% of the parliament seats belong to women in the lower house of Parliament. Chief Justice David Maraga said the politicians’ failure to implement the legislation was an apparent sign of “lackadaisical attitude and conduct” in regards to the two-thirds gender rule.
“There is no doubt that the dissolution of parliament will cause inconvenience and even economic hardship. The fact that Kenya is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbates the potential impact of the decision,” Maraga wrote.“Yet that is the clear result Kenyans desired for parliament’s failure to enact legislation they deemed necessary. We must forget that more often than not, there is no gain without pain.”
According to Bloomberg, Kenya’s Parliament is made up of the National Assembly and the Senate. The assembly consists of 349 members with 47 of the seats mandated to be held by women who are elected by local counties. The Senate consists of 67 members and 16 of them are women nominated by the various political parties.
Since 2012, court rulings have mandated Parliament adhere to legislation encouraging gender equity or risk being dissolved, according to The Standard. Previous attempts have failed as female members of Parliament have accused their male counterparts of deliberately influencing efforts to advance their cause.
Dismas Mokua, a political analyst in Nairobi, told Bloomberg that in the event Parliament isn’t dissolved, any legislation it approves following the advisory could be challenged in court.
“Reading from the political mood today in Kenya, I doubt whether the president will take the risk of dissolving parliament tomorrow,” Mokua said. “He will cause unnecessary tension in Kenya and he is trying to work on his legacy.”