Gender Balance in Public Office in Kenya

This forum calls for more in-depth and critical analysis and will therefore attempt to do so in this article. You may skip to page 2 or page 3 (under development) if the background is of no interest to you.

Introduction

A lot has been said and discussed about marginalized groups in society and representation to various institutions and offices. Throughout history in various countries, organizations and offices, marginalization and discrimination has occurred due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, physical appearance, sexual orientation, bigotry, hegemony, nationality, language, intellect, academic exposure, professional settings, societal attachments, cultural leanings and a whole host of other differentiators  and persuasion, that humans can or want to identify with.

Some of these differentiators are subtle while others are fairly obvious. Some might require use of sophisticated or localized coded language or deep syntax i.e. more intimate understanding of certain nuances to decipher (e.g. slang), while others are just plain in-your-face type out there in the open.

Regardless or rather, irrespective of the differentiator, it’s easy for certain groups of people to identify a differentiator, latch on to it for support and thereafter create an environment of inclusion for those they want to relate to/with, and of course the exclusion for those they’d prefer not to engage with based on the differentiators described above.

Throughout history we also find a few visionary people who recognized the fact that the differentiators did not necessarily point to flaws or failing but in fact were an insight into the different personalities, character and diversity that as humans we must embrace to create and appreciate better society for everyone.

And even with this realization, some would like to embrace this from a point of view that is condescending in approach, while others do so with deceit and cunning yet others embrace this as an opportunity to further enrich our overall experience on earth.

In my view, all these differentiators are ultimately tied back to one form of resource or another. i.e. Somehow, all these different people, using whatever form or type of discrimination have consciously or unconsciously identified a resource that they somehow believe whatever community it is they believe they belong to, has a genuine and perhaps exclusive claim to and therefore desire to keep sole ownership (individually or as a community) to this resource and will go to amazing lengths to retain ownership.

Tricks and strategies, include such as deriding other communities or groups as incapable of understanding what it takes or having the ability to preserve, nurture etc. the resource, or an exaggeration of own community’s abilities and capabilities. This often manifests or is typically recognized as stereotyping.

I think such passion is great. I also think that being caught up in one’s own cocoon is potentially disastrous, but hey feel free to do as you please.

Anyway back to the discussion at hand and this in my view is fairly trivial

After between two and three decades of an active search for a new all-inclusive constitution, Kenya did promulgate a new constitution in August 2010. Granted, there are some ambiguous statements on account of several revisions to accommodate diverse interests and changes. However, the spirit of the document remains clear. In a few years, many of the drafters, many of those that shared their visions and many others will be gone and this spirit may altogether vanish and be replaced by others. But for now let’s focus on gender balance in the house of representatives i.e. parliament or the national assembly as it is referred to.

It was deemed necessary, for whatever reasons, that there be proportional gender representation which was identified as a ratio of 1:2 i.e. no more than 2/3 of any gender whether male or female, be in any elective, appointed or nominated office.

Face value this is simple enough, but when it comes to elective office, there is no way of guaranteeing or predicting the results or outcome. The national assembly therefore has to find means to address this requirement otherwise it may end up in a convoluted quagmire.