The Inclusivity Program within CMD-Kenya seeks to curve and secure safe spaces for the engagement of categories of the citizenry that typically do not participate in national political discourse. At CMD-Kenya, these groups comprise of youth, women, persons with disabilities and super-minority communities. Political inclusion is a critical pillar of democratic governance. The authenticity and sustainability of political parties depend on the extent to which they observe the Constitutional principles of inclusive and participatory governance. In Kenya, marginalization of youth, women, persons with disabilities and super-minority communities remains an issue of contemporary setting. In most cases, governance institutions fail to take adequate measures to integrate the perspectives of the marginalized groups in development policies. CMD-Kenya recognizes that barriers to governance facing marginalized groups prevent them from realizing their human rights and exercising their democratic rights.
By addressing the multiplicity of factors that militate against the participation of these categories of persons in national leadership in general and in political party leadership in particular, the program hopes to create a more inclusive, tolerant and therefore democratic society in which all persons contribute and participate freely and equitably in decision making processes for the greater good of society. Working with political parties, CMD-Kenya has made significant gains in promoting the inclusion of the marginalized groups in governance. We have continuously capacitated political parties to create space for marginalized groups to make significant contributions in the country’s political discourse. We also work to ensure that the Constitutional safeguards for the protection and promotion of the rights of marginalized groups are implemented.
Despite progress in broadening the democratic politics with stronger democratic participation, opportunities for youth participation in politics and governance are still limited. The inclusion of youth needs and perspectives in political parties’ policies and programs is still inadequate despite the constitutional recognition of youth as a marginalized group and the attendant requirement for their inclusion in development policies and programs. The participation of young people in political parties and processes has over time remained low.
The youth project was instituted in 2011 through partnership with the Danish Liberal Party Program (DLDP). For the period 2011-2013, the focus of the project was to enhance the participation of youth in politics. During that phase, the project created immense opportunities for better integration of the youth in political parties. This was evident in the 2013 general elections when high numbers of young people participated as candidates and also as voters.
Although the first phase of the project confirmed that young people increased willingness to take part in politics, it was evident that without a proper platform within parties for leadership training; coaching and mentoring, the youth would still be consigned to peripheral roles in mainstream politics. As such, the current phase of the youth project is seeking to build capacity of the political parties’ themselves and particularly their youth wings. The project will seek to enhance the capacities and skills of parties; including party leaders, to offer an opportunity for leadership training and mentorship for young members. Another key objective of the present phase is to strengthen party youth wings and leagues including through their active engagement and participation in the formulation and articulation of party policies. The project seeks to strengthen the youth leaders’ capacities to initiate strong issue-based policy formulation and facilitate their meaningful involvement in political parties.
The primary focus of the CMD-kenya gender program has been working with political parties in order to increase the level of women’s participation in politics through election, nomination and acquisition of leadership positions in political parties and in the public sphere. CMD-Kenya has also worked with women candidates and women leaders towards this end. After the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010, CMD-Kenya, with the funding from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), UN Women and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) worked with women in political parties to bring to the fore, on time information on the gender dimensions of the implementation of the Constitution. We also documented real life stories from women aspirants, their struggles, challenges and fears as they seek elective and affirmative action positions as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Presently, CMD-Kenya with the funding from the Dutch Foreign Ministry through Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) is implementing a Women Political Rights Program (WPR) whose goal is to advocate for enhanced participation of women in the political processes and the actualization of the constitutional provisions on affirmative action. The program is anchored on the fact that despite the far reaching constitutional, policy and legal gains that have expanded space for increasing women’s representation in public and political spheres in Kenya, women’s representation in political leadership remain low. CMD-Kenya understands that the exclusion of women in leadership and decision-making limits the potential for embedding the principles of democracy in our society, hindering socio-economic development and discouraging the attainment of gender equality.
The program will continuously advocate for the inclusion of women in political leadership through political parties. It will also back the formulation of gender sensitive policies so that women can be integrated in all spheres of leadership and in shaping the future of their country. Finally, the gender program will document women stories and positively profile women as reliable and capable leaders who can match their male counterparts as well as seek to mobilize male champions for gender equality to shove the debate ahead.