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EXPERT COMMENT: Gender Bill a lazy legislation for a complex issue

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The route we are following as Parliament is not a total solution to the
gender parity issue in this country. I think it is just a partial solution. There
are loopholes in the Bill. It is an attempt at solving a very complex problem
using a very lazy legislation.

The defect in the Bill is that its supporters seem to assume the
two-third-gender rule is based on the 290 constituencies. That is not true. It
is based on the total number of members in the House, that is 349. The House
does not require 22 members to bridge the gap as others have suggested but 43
members.

The problem lies in our electoral process. For example, our elections are so
viciously fought that women cannot cope. As Parliament, I think we should go
further and start the process of addressing the underlying issues through
sweeping amendments to the existing electoral laws to bring about proportional
representation.

We should change the electoral system to bring about proportional
representation. In my view, that way the gender issue will be resolved and the
viciousness of elections will be a thing of the past.  

However, as Parliament races against time to enact this gender-parity
enabling legislation, there is a big problem if MPs fail to pass the Bill.

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Of
course most MPs have spoken openly in support of the Bill and I hope they will
walk the talk during voting. There is a danger that Parliament would be
dissolved if the law is defeated.

If the Bill fails to sail through and the House is dissolved, MPs will have
to start the process afresh. In the fresh Bill, the House can consider
proportional representation to solve the gender problem once and for all.

Gender parity in representation should be progressive.  Over the years
we have seen the number of women in elective positions increasing gradually
from two or three at Independence to the current 23 in the National Assembly.

They are trying to push something which is unnatural. If we want the
two-thirds gender rule to work, we must change electoral laws.

The Ford Kenya secretary general and Tongaren MP spoke to the Star

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