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Kenyan Politics: Boys’ Club?

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No girls allowedJust when I think that Kenyan politics can’t let me down any more than it already has, our elected troglodytes manage to surpass themselves.

Apparently, you can write a constitution, but change it when it doesn’t suit your purposes. So we have the dropping of the clause that a third of MPs should be female. I know! Crazy, right? Surely the women are too busy being helpmeets to their husbands to bother themselves with the ugly business of running around campaigning for votes.

So the good men of the cabinet have made a decision. It’s too hard! And it’s not boys wanting to keep hold of all of their marbles; it’s for the good of the country!

Analysts say the government fears that if parties are forced to reserve seats for women it will cause serious divisions in their ranks.

C’mon ladies! Don’t put yourselves forward for political office. Be reasonable. Do you want to trigger another civil war?

God forbid that the various parties shoudl actually seek capable and effective women from within their ranks! What’s that you say? Women are only effective at making tea for cabinet meetings. Well, hi! How are things back in the Middle Ages?!

Of course, in a meritocracy, women would rise to the top like cream no matter what the circumstances. But is Kenyan politics really a meritocracy? Honestly? Can you imagine the best possible candidate being able to represent their constituency without having to make themselves a hostage to fortune within the party-political process?

The boys’ club has always been sewn up, and when the constitution was being drawn up, lip service was given to letting the girls have a go. Now, with elections on the horizon, the boys suddenly realise that there will be less patronage to spread around if the girls have some reserved seats. so they vote for a constitutional amendment.

Do the voters of Kenya get a referendum?

Let’s wait and see.

[Image by dr.coop]

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3 Comments

  1. TK says:

    You’re incorrect with your assumptions here. This silly constitution was made without any thought going into it. The implementation of this 1/3 rule is nigh impossible.

    Example: my constituency becomes one of the ones reserved for women. Now, I’m a man and, to join the gravy train, would like to run for MP. But now I can’t. The constitutional requirement for 1/3 women representatives bars me. So won’t the constitution have discriminated against me solely because I’m a man?

    You see the problem?

  2. Steff says:

    And I point you towards the example set by Rwanda, which seems to have found quotas for women uncomplicated to implement.

    It’s not necessary to reserve entire constituencies for women, but more about the selection lists of political parties themselves. If they present capable female candidates to their potential, surely party loyalty would mean more female politicians being elected?

    The reason this doesn’t happen, is that the people at the top of politics, as in other fields, tend to choose as their successors and peers people who closely resemble them. So it ends up being a boys’ club. This is unfair to women, who after all make up half the population. Why are they so underrepresented in the seat of power?

    This isn’t about barring men from anything but allowing more women opportunity. Capable men will still get selected, they’ll just have more competition, which would normally lead to a better class of politician overall.

    Sadly, the viper’s nest that makes up Kenyan politics means there will merely be a schmoozier class of crook.

  3. TK says:

    The issue here is not how Rwanda implemented theirs nor how underrepresented women are in Kenyan politics (which they definitely are) but simply the unworkable formula used in our constitution.

    And that’s not all which is very very wrong with this new constitution. What we got is what we wanted, not what we needed, but that’s another story altogether.

    But I do agree with you about the viper’s nest. Couldn’t have put it better myself. :)

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