By E Njega
We are approaching this gender issue on a very simplistic basis. Simply dictating that over a third of elected legislators should be women does not translate to better lives for women or better outcomes for the country.
Focus should be on ensuring a fair playing ground for men and women and leave the rest to competition whereby the best man or woman wins. We should aim for meritocracy and not gender balance mediocrity.
We are obsessed with gender parity for its own sake and not for any fundamental or strategic objective. We are only after bragging rights.
Why is it that positions in all other aspect of life are left to open competition except in politics?
How come NGOs from countries which have not achieved gender parity at home are here lecturing us on how to treat our women? Even Angela Merkel Cabinet is not 50% women, it is 44%. Theresa May’s Cabinet had 31% women as of August 2018.
In this country, women are overtaking men in many aspects. For instance, the number of female candidates in last year’s KCPE was higher than that of male candidates. When men are left behind it is celebrated as progress and not seen as a problem. The gender debate fails to consider the current state of men and women in this country and hangs onto disadvantages which exist no more or are reversing fast.
This gender parity has not been achieved even in many centuries-old democracies and high achieving countries. Why do we want to achieve it in a day and for what purpose? As of 2017 USA had 19% women legislators, UK 32%, Japan 9%, South Korea 17%, India 12%, Germany 37%, France 39%, Canada 26%, Singapore 23%, Israel 28% etc
There is no evidence that having more women MPs translates to better lives for citizens. Number of women MPs in Low Income Countries is 23% while in high income countries it is 28%. The number in highly indebted poor countries is 24%.
All countries in East Africa have attained the 1/3 gender rule including Somalia, Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan. Does it mean women in these countries have better rights than Kenya? Are their economies and democracies better run than Kenya?
How come it is harder for a woman to be elected MP in Nairobi which should be the most progressive county in Kenya than in rural and pastoral areas where women are supposedly oppressed? Only one woman out 17 MPs was elected in Nairobi in 2017.
In short the gender debate in elective posts is elitist nonsense and has nothing to do with women rights. It is much ado about nothing.