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Revisting the issues of gender in Kenya

Do we still need Women Representatives in Kenya?

In this submission I would like to revist the question of gender and how Kenya is failing to meet the international expectations. First, we must get it right. Gender is not about women. Lay men always relate the terminology “Gender” with the “woman”…this is the first mistake we do make. Gender is not synomous to sex. It is about both sexes, male and female. It is about roles played by each sex in enhancing human development. It is about inclusion of female and male in any development agenda. How it became an issue for only women is still a question of clarity. It should focus equally on both female and male.

The issue for our debate here is not about the women but how Kenya has perceived gender issues and needs. Still Kenya Parliament has not come up with two thirds ratio to enable as many women as possible to get into the decision making of the state…This constitutional provision has stalled many times. When the Supreme Court of Kenya was petitioned to provide advisory opinion about it, the response was even vague. Such implementation of the constitutional provision on 2/3 rule can only be achieved progressively but not instantly. What all this means still is in limbo. When Parliament was to sit and deliberate on the issue, the process stalled as many men and women in the House did not attend and there was no quorum to carry out the business. All these failures have been attributed to many reasons and one of them is men in Kenya are arrogant and negative about anything to do with women climbing into power. Even such malicious allegations are not correct.

All is based on the understanding of certain concepts that are still foreign to our cultures and traditions. Gender was construed to be a weapon for empowering women against men. It was brought into Kenya with intent to make women stand above men in areas concerning decision making and policy making of the nation. This perception caused more evil than good to many Kenyans. First, many families started disintegrating. More domestic violence, more divorce cases, and more bitterness between men and women. The gender issue brought negativity and disharmony than positivity and harmony. Today Kenya is ranking high with divorce cases, rape cases, domestic violence, sexual violence and negativity about gender.

We must put gender into its proper position and correct the errors. The political position of women representatives in the 47 counties in the National Assembly was well intended but failed to provide any pragmatic meaning in Kenya today. Women representatives have become totally irrelevant to their mandate and role, putting gender campaign into another dilemma. So far do we need women representatives in the National Assembly? What makes them different from women MPs? Even if it was an affirmative action to elevate women and allow woemn chance to get into political organs of the state, so far, what have the women representatives contributed?

Another mistake we should not make, women are not free from corruption and impunity. Even women leadership can be terrible and ruthless just as that of men. Gender should not appear to be women above men but counterparts in development agenda. In Kenya, men have become vulnerable with time. Young boys seeking opportunities such as employment are denied due to spaces created for women. Given that in the demographic analysis in Kenya women are still the majority as compared to men. Out of 10 new born children, 8 are female. The justification of this is another argument. Men are the minority in Kenya. To explain this it is possible to see it in social life. The number of single mothers is shockingly high. Some women even prefer staying single for life and manage their personal issues with or without husbands or boyfriends.

Arguably, advancing gender needs in Kenya still needs a lot of dialogue and debate at the public level. Honestly, I do agree that we need to look at gender but from contextualized approach. We need to look at some values that Kenya has always embraced. Lets not be excited by whatever the international community imposes upon us. We have our values and ways of implementting gender in a manner that shall not create more evil than good.

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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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