There was a lot of excitement following the August 8th, 2017 election. We had elected for the first time 3 women governors and three women senators.
23 women have been elected to the National Assembly, up from the 16 in 2013.Including the 47 women representative seats and half of the 12 nominated by political parties, will bring the women representation in the National Assembly to 76 or 21%. This is short of the 33%
The number of women elected members of county assemblies (MCAs) has also increased from 84 to 96 of the total 1450. The proportion of elected women in County government is less than 7%.
Well, this is quite the achievement for Kenya given we have had the lowest representation of women parliamentarians in East Africa.
Enough has been made of the increment in the number of women after this election and while, of course, it should be jubilated, particularly the diversity of the women elected, it needs to be celebrated with caution. After all, there are 9.4 million voters, 47% of registered voters; only being 7 per cent of the country’s decision makers elected is still gross under-representation.
We also need to be cautious about how this success was made. 100% of the party leaders in the two major parties (NASA and Jubilee) are men.
The majority of the 23 elected MPS in the 2017 Kenyan National Assembly come from the Jubilee Party with 14 seats, and the NASA coalition had 8 women elected, and 1 woman ran as an independent candidate.
If we want 33% representation of women in parliament, change will not come fast enough if we are waiting for the political parties to voluntarily take the lead and field 33% of female candidates. It’s time for Kenyans to push all parties to field at least 33% of women candidates.