Kihika De-Whipping: Vulnerability of women in Kenyan leadership

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika

The removal of Susan Kihika as the senate Majority Whip has once again exposed the vulnerability of women in various leadership positions in the country. Kihika might not have performed as expected by the Jubilee party but at least a consideration should have been made to replace her with a woman – By Prudence Wanza.

Electing a majority whip lies solely on the preference of the ruling political party with various considerations in place such as the agenda the party wants to drive in the senate, political structure and alignments being key factors.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said not once nor twice, that his government will continue to support gender equality in key leadership positions. He is the Jubilee Party leader and perhaps gender equality didnot cross his mind during the meeting.

Kihika was replaced by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata. She should not have been replaced by a woman for the mere fact of having a woman in such a position, but because it is time to allow women to take up these roles in order to have a progressive country.

Rarely do women get hold of house leadership positions in Kenya despite the push to have gender equality in leadership. The Kenyan Parliament too falls short of the gender equality.

In the Kenyan Parliament representation of women has remained a bone of contention for several years, yet the power to change the narrative lies in the same house. For instance, the parliament has consecutively failed to pass the two third gender rule as proposed in the constitution.

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The Constitution of Kenya 2010 in Article 27(8) of the Bill of Rights provides that: “The state shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. This provision is also reiterated in article 81 (b) on the principles of the electoral system and is commonly referred to as “the gender principle”.

On February 27, the national assembly refused to enact the gender bill by failing to avail the requisite quorum for a constitutional amendment which requires two-thirds of the members of the house to be present. The MPs not only failed to pass the bill but they also refused to show up to even allow for the possibility of its enactment.

The constitution of Kenya only recognizes women by creating special seats for women such as the election of 47 women in the national assembly, nomination of 16 women by political parties and one woman representing the youth and person with disabilities into the senate and county governments and in other decision-making bodies.

Despite being one of the most advanced democracies in East and Central Africa, Kenya’s parliament has the lowest number of women legislators, and fails terribly when it comes to equal gender representation. Countries like Rwanda and Uganda are far much ahead being ranked globally for having a balanced gender representation.

In the spirit of ensuring gender equality in leadership positions and keeping the woman’s voice alive, the Jubilee party should have considered appointing a woman as a majority whip to replace Senator Kihika.

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It is important to understand that no country can progress economically, socially, and politically without having both genders participate meaningfully towards the national agendas.


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