Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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Deputy speaker of the national assembly Farah Maalim has implored female parliamentarians to help break stereotypes associated with female participation and representation in politics, saying that they themselves are better placed to sensitize the female electorate to support each other.
Maalim argued that currently the population of female voters stands at 52pc out of the entire electorate, and asserts this is an effective tool to bring to an end the gender disparity in the political arena, where women have for a long time been sidelined.
“As we gather here today, you are the bearers of this honored task. Society expects no lesser effort from elected women in parliament to free their fellow women folk from bondage of mild stereotypes,” he said.
He also added that there provisions in the constitution including the slots reserved for women representatives as well as the gender rule on elective posts, will help cushion women and ensure that they get a fair chance to participate in policy making as well as political leadership.
Maalim further highlighted that the current parliament has gone to the books of history for having the highest number of female legislators, of whom he says account for 50pc of the decision making process on governance issues.
Speaking during the official opening of the second Annual Common Wealth Women Parliamentarians’- CWP conference which brought together representatives from different African states, the deputy speaker affirmed that there was need for Kenyan women parliamentarians to coordinate and provide national leadership while freeing mindsets from stereotypes of segregation along gender lines.
CWP chair Rebecca Kadaga who also serves as the speaker of the Uganda National Assembly declared that the group has now changed its strategy to entirely engage with political party leaders who are the gatekeepers of political policies and could largely help change perception and bridge the gap in leadership.
“We believe that participation of both genders in the planning, programming and prioritization of gender issues is essential…we aim at promoting gender equality, emancipation of women, promote respect for human rights ,promote policies for good governance and democracies,” she said.
Kadaga revealed that Africa as a continent had made great strides in championing for equal gender representation in politics compared to Europe and America.
She expressed her optimism that the outcome of the conference is likely to influence their proposal to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as well as convince political parties to financially and materially support female politicians.
Kenya Women Parliamentarians chair Linaa Jebii Kilimo said that the association plans to traverse through the 47 counties to mentor women planning to join and vie for various political posts in readiness for the forthcoming general elections.
CWP was started by the UN in 1977 and has representatives in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Seychelles and Zanzibar
success in championing for equal gender representation through the association has seen the representation of women in politics go up, with Rwanda leading with 56pc, South Africa 43pc, Tanzania 36pc, Uganda 34.9pc, Mozambique 39pc, Namibia 26pc and Seychelles recording the highest improvement from 2pc to 40pc
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