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Political Parties agree on gender formula

Political parties have unanimously agreed to support the option of replicating the provisions of Article 177 (b) and (c) to Articles 97 & 98 of the Constitution to realize the two thirds gender principle in parliament and Senate. If passed by parliament, qualifying political parties will be required to nominate members should the number of elected women fail to meet the two-third gender threshold in the two Houses.
The resolution came at a retreat organized by the technical working group chaired by the National Gender and Equality Commission on the realization of the two thirds gender principle which had convened political parties at the Maanzoni lodge in Machakos County. Over sixty leaders of various political parties were taken through a raft of proposals before finally settling on the option. There were however heated exchanges among members of the various political parties represented as they gave dissenting views on the merits and demerits of the options.
Leader of the Independent Party (TIP) Kalembe Ndile argued that there was no need to increase the number of women in parliament and Senate saying those currently holding affirmative action seats had nothing to show for it. Secretary General of the National Vision Party (NVP) Malele Mwachai however countered the argument by stating that affirmative action was meant to bring on board women who for a long time had been marginalized in political representation. 
But it is TNA Secretary Onyango Oloo who tempered the debate when he urged political parties to observe fidelity to the Constitution which he said had expressly provided for gender parity. “Our position (TNA) is that we cannot escape from this requirement of the gender rule. It is in the constitution and as a party of the government we have a responsibility to implement it” said Oloo.
 The landmark resolution now paves way for broader consensus building with other stakeholders ahead of an anticipated Constitution amendment Bill to operationalize Article 81(b) of the Constitution that states that not more than two thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.
The gender top-up mechanism in Article 177(1)(b) was successfully implemented across the 47 county assemblies after the March 2013 general election. Implementation of this mechanism would require an amendment of Articles 97 and 98 of the Constitution to be in line with the mechanism set out in Article 177(1)(b) and (c).
The parties agreed to pursue the resolutions further at a retreat to be held in Mombasa where proposed amendments to the political parties Act will be thrashed out. Parliament has up to August 27, 2015 to have considered, debated and passed a formula for the realization of the two thirds gender principle. Failure will lead to a constitutional crisis in the 2017 General elections

Picture Caption: Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndungu in a session with leaders of political parties at the Maanzoni lodge in Machakos County

Political Parties agree on gender formula



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