Nairobi — The August 2012 elections in Kenya will open doors to massive political participation by women for the first time ever.
The new constitution in effect since August 2010 contains a provision that should radically change political representation for women in this East African country.
Women’s rights activists in Kenya are confident that as a result of constitutional Article 81 (b), which states that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender,” their problems of under-representation in key government bodies will become a thing of the past.
Kenya is a patriarchal society where women only gained equal rights to inherit land when the new constitution entered into force. And women who speak out are often seen as social misfits.
For example, when the late Prof Wangari Maathai opposed the construction of a 60-story building in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, senior male political leaders of the government of then president Daniel arap Moi called her a madwoman.
But a radical change is in store, because now women must form one-third of any elective public body.
And the principle of two-thirds gender equilibrium has already been implemented in some key appointments made since the new constitution was promulgated. In all the commissions and other constitutional offices that have been formed, the rule has been followed.
For the first time in Kenya’s 48 years of independence, one-third of the members of the Supreme Court, the commission on revenue allocation, the commission for the implementation of the constitution and the salaries and remuneration commission are now women. See full story here