Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Gender Equality, Democracy and Justice

There is a looming constitutional crisis regarding the fulfillment of gender equality rule as espoused in the new constitution. However, gender equality cannot be attained at the expense of democracy and justice.
The ongoing debate whether amendments should or should not be made to the law that requires any public institution to have a third of either gender has continued to illicit mixed reactions from various quarters. The assemblies created under the new constitution (parliament, senate, & county assembly) are as such required to comply with this rule. However, if this law is not met and it turns out (as likely to be the case) that the gender rule is not met then, the assemblies will be unconstitutional. This will plunge the country to constitutional crisis of its kind. The Attorney-General has since sought the intervention of the Supreme court in a bid to find a solution to the stalement.
In order to solve the crisis, the respective assemblies would be required to nominate the difference to meet the constitutional requirement. This rule is a brainchild of affirmative action for women who have not been participating in politics. Nominating the shortfall will be unsustainable for the economy due to the bloated members of the assembly. For instance, if Kenyans decide to elect 290 men in the national assembly, the law requires that 60 women be nominated to meet constitutional gender threshold bringing the total number of M.P’s 350, all of them to be paid approximately Ksh.1M.
Gender Equality Vis a Vis Democracy & Justice
From the foregoing, some have argued that the cost of attaining gender equality in the assemblies will be quite enormous. That aside, I want us to focus on gender equality particularly on elective posts: Does the gender rule promote Democracy and Justice? Can we achieve gender equality at the expense of Democracy and Justice? The gender rule on elective posts negates the principle of Democracy and Justice. You cannot force people to elect a woman or a man. It’s like imposing a leader unto the people and that should not be the case at this juncture given the achievement we have gained in the fight for democracy. Error is to human and that clause ought to have been amended during the making of the constitution. Nobody really pondered on the ramifications of the rule and asked whether it is actually feasible. Changing the constitution now will require a referendum which is not possible. The gender rule ought to be applied on positions of appointment but not elective posts/positions. It perfectly makes sense when a commission of eight members has four men and four women appointed by the president. On the other hand, you can’t force a constituency to elect a woman or a man.  As a matter of fact, affirmative action in regards to decision making has been addressed through the creation of women representatives’ position.
Lack of Interest
The gender rule is not the solution for lack of participation of women in politics. The problem is not male dominance in the political world but rather women are not interested in politics so they have been left out. To truly meet the underpinnings of Gender Equality, Democracy and Justice, men and women should compete on equal footing.