Gender Cluster Workshops with CMD-Kenya

Various parties subscribed to CMD-Kenya had a cluster workshop that basically was to look at the CMD- Kenya position paper developed in March 2019 and submitted to the BBI taskforce. The various recommendations for reforms dealt with the enhancement of women’s political participation in Kenya. The consolidated position paper had outlined four issues that looked at gender inclusion in governance. The issues outlined were:

  • Change the Electoral System and System of Government
  • Review the Campaign Financing Law
  • Strengthen Electoral Institutions Mainly IEBC and ORPP
  • Funding of political parties

Regarding the Electoral System and System of Government- Women league leaders and the male champions for gender equality agreed with the propositions on the position paper that pushed for the opposite gender rule in all arms of government; in line with Article 166(c) of the constitution of Kenya 2010. The opposite gender rule should apply in all forms of governance. Additionally, it was proposed to have a 50:50 gender rule in cabinet appointments and a change from a presidential system of government to a parliamentary system, as a means of expanding the executive. In the expanded executive, the opposite gender rule should also be applied. In terms of the electoral system, Mixed Member Proportional Representation was suggested as a way of strengthening political parties rather than individuals or ethnic groups.

The second proposition on campaign financing was majorly due to the fact that most of the mega corruption scandals revolve around the financing of political activities. Money is a powerful tool and most especially in political circles. It is used to buy influence amongst other ills in politics. The position paper sought to address the issue and henceforth curate ways of ensuring that money in politics flow is transparent whilst evening out the conditions of competition. The lack of access to financial resources had been pointed out as one of the hindrances to women participation in politics thus; the electoral campaign financing law should be reviewed as a tool of leveling the playing field.

The women league leaders were in support of strengthening the electoral institutions mainly the IEBC and ORPP. One of the flaws identified was that there was insufficient policy and legal framework. The independence of the institutions is questionable and political parties goodwill is weak hence the enforcement of electoral code of conduct is difficult. Most of the challenges faced are due to shortcomings of intra-party democracy. It was suggested that the 1997 IPPG framework should be used as a framework policy because I was effective during the 2002 general elections and the 2005 referendum on the proposed draft constitution. Additionally, the timeframe for amending the IEBC laws should be integrated in the constitution to avoid rushed amendments to electoral laws. To be included was staggering of the IEBC Commissioners’ tenure.

In terms of funding the political parties require financial resources to operate and be sustained. However, the constitution’s threshold leaves out most political parties that constrain the democratic development of the country. The law should be reviewed to allow funding of all registered political parties. With regards to the above proposal, the challenge would be how then do we curb the emergence of briefcase political parties whose aim would be to collect funds.

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