Mandela’s widow: Women must earn their place at the table

Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s widow and Mozambique politician Graça Machel has challenged women across the continent to fight for their rightful representation in the continent’s business and economic, political and policy space and not expect it to be given to them on a silver platter.

Ms. Machel who spoke during the 22nd Eminent Speakers’ Lecture of the African Development Institute held at the Babacar N’diaye Auditorium in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on November 16 said that Africa’s socio-economic transformation will only be realised once gender-specific challenges including gender inequality are addressed.

Dame Graça Machel, one of Africa’s foremost advocates for the rights of women and children noted that African women need to be in the driving seat of national discourse.

“Women must re-design the table, and not just expect to be at the table. They need to be at the centre of our economies. They must also pro-actively seek to correct the status quo,” said the politician.

Ms. Machel’s comments come at a time when all eyes are trained on parliament to see if it will pass the Gender Bill which seeks to ensure that one gender is not over represented in parliament as required by the constitution by increasing the number of nominated female MPs.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale is sponsoring the bill which has been backed by the country’s top political leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka.


Attempts to pass the bill have fallen flat on three occasions.

The 11th parliament adjourned its sittings on July, 25, 2017 to pave way for last year’s general elections having passed 180 bills, adopted 50 motions, concluded 124 petitions and handled over 50 questions on various questions but still could not fashion a way of passing the Gender Bill.

This meant that women had to wait longer for more representation in both houses.


In March 2017, High Court Judge John Mativo ruled that anyone could write to the Chief Justice to advise the president to dissolve parliament after two lobby groups; Centre for Rights Education and Awareness and Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust sued the National Assembly and the Senate for the delay.

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By Kenyan Digest

The Kenyan Digest Team