WALK THE TALK: How can Kenya’s legal framework support political participation among under-represented groups
This week, we launched a new report, which assesses the extent to which the legal framework governing Kenya’s political parties supports the inclusion and participation of special interest groups, defined as women, youth, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The study, entitled “Walk the Talk: A critical analysis of the legal framework on Inclusion of special interest groups”, has been carried out by the SIDPAK Consortium. Comprising NIMD, DIPD, Oslo Center, Mzalendo and CMD Kenya, this Consortium helps contribute to the development of inclusive and democratic political actors in Kenya and is funded by the European Union.
Why the new study?
The right to participate in political and public life is a well-established principle of international human rights law. But many groups – particularly women, youth and persons with disabilities – often face difficulties in participating in the public sphere.
Resolving these difficulties requires strategic responses using a myriad of tools. Law is one such tool. The design of effective legal measures and their faithful implementation is essential for ensuring the active, meaningful and equal participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities in the political affairs of any society.
That’s why the SIDPAK Consortium launched this study, to assess the extent to which Kenya’s legal framework governing political parties supports the inclusion and participation of special interest groups in electoral processes.
Our research shows that special interest groups see a gap in the implementation of their Constitutional rights through implementation and legislation. The cost of participating in politics is also prohibitively high, leading to an uneven playing field for groups who are already underrepresented in politics.
And, while political parties have adopted provisions in their constitutions to promote the inclusion of special interest groups, there are still gaps. For example, party nomination rules have not provided clear guidelines on the formulation of the party list to ensure equitable representation of all groups.
That’s why our study puts forward a number of key recommendations for legislators, political parties, the Attorney General, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
We recommend, for example, that the ORPP should be strengthened so that it can effectively monitor the activities of political parties regarding inclusivity. And we advocate for extra resources for the ORPP, geared towards monitoring compliance with inclusivity in party nominations and conducting capacity building and awareness programs to enhance the participation and election of special interest groups.
We hope that our recommendations will help these bodies to start to fill in the gaps in legislation and implementation, as we work together to level the playing field for all groups in Kenyan politics.