I want to throw myself into the murky waters of the two-thirds gender issue at the risk of heels been thrown at me on the streets of Nairobi.
I am not sure why this issue has been turned into a battle of the sexes whle the Constitution talks of not more than two-thirds of either gender should occupy elective or appontive positions.
But from the onset, let me mention that I am not blind to the low women representation in the Kenyan Parliament. However, let me also say that I am not blind to the failure of women to take advantage of their numbers and capture more seats during elections.
It is for this reason that I find it laughable the suggestion that some Constituencies should be asked to vote in women MPs only. What if after the four cycles Kenyans can still not elect women into Parliament? For argument sake again, what if women revolt against the system they are used to and vote in a large number of women in the next election and end up taking up more than two-thirds of the 290 seats?
Anyway, they say numbers don’t lie and it for this reason that I believe that women have had their chance to increase their numbers in Parliament but failed to do so.
Out of the 12.6 million registered voters for the 2010 referendum, 49 percent were women. This number was an increase from the number of women who had registered in the last general election. In the 2007 general elections, the ECK registered 14.2 million voters, of whom 6.7 million were women.
From the numbers we can, for argument sake, say that women have had the chance to take up at least 40 per cent of the seats in Parliament, since they can selfishly cast their vote for a woman, but failed to.
But then there is another aspect, women have, even when they have had the chance, shied away from joining elective politics and therefore we shouldn’t blame the electorate for failing to vote in women since the choice is not there. And where the women contest the elections, they have failed to convince the electorate that they are the best of the pack.
For instance, during the recent by-election in Kamukunji, there was only one woman out of the feld of eight meaning that there was only an 1/8 chance that Kamukunji could be prepresented by a woman for the remaining part of the 10th parliament. And while, the winner of the contest captured more than 14,000 votes, the only woman candidate did not get more than 300 votes.
Turning to the Constitution, I believe that the issue of gender equity was, in the mind of the drafters, supposed to be progressive. Even Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I thus believe that this is the reason why the CoE ensured that there are 47 women MPs – one from each County – outside the 290 Constituency seats that are to be contested competitively.
The bottomline is that the woman voter in Kenya has an equal position of ensuring that she gets the person of her choice to represent her in parliament just like the male voter. Therefore, she should not, in the quest of attaining a progressive principle, trample on the rights of others to make that choice.