“We will partner and walk together in solidarity and sisterhood in our leadership journeys” was the resounding resolve by 21 members of the Nairobi County Assembly Women Caucus.
This was during the second #WomenMustLead policy dialogue organized by the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).
The convening allowed for the women MCAs to reflect, strategize and forge a formidable force in reclaiming their space and bonding in solidarity.
A few months ago, the near death in-fighting witnessed in the assembly had resulted in division and disunity. The convening was therefore timely for candid conversations in the healing and reconciliation journey.
Speaking during the opening, the Executive Director of FEMNET, Memory Kachambwa invited the women MCA leaders to continue speaking out, re-thinking and strategizing on enhancing their influence in their oversight role.
She assured them of the organization’s support in championing for women leaders at all levels as change agents. Ms. Kachambwa reiterated the need for more women to come out boldly and push for the two-third gender rule, saying: “Let us work to protect the women who are already in leadership positions. Patriarchy has made us to believe that there is not enough space. There is so much space”.
Being compliant with the two-thirds gender rule is a matter of justice and is in line with complying to regional and international standards that the Kenyan government has committed to including the Maputo Protocol, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, CEDAW, 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While addressing the rampant incidents of violence witnessed in the county assembly, Ms. Kachambwa urged the women leaders to stay vigilant and avoid being used as instruments to perpetuate violence in the communities, noting that 2020 was the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The Chair of the Nairobi County Women Caucus Doris Kanario celebrated women for their boldness in disrupting the space by seeking elective and special seats as well as heading committees at the assembly.
With only five women out of the 85 elected MCAs, Kanario urged her fellow women leaders not to relent in pushing for the two-third gender rule as well as advocating for allocation of resources for the nominated members.
She appealed to FEMNET to convene more dialogue sessions in enhancing solidarity and sisterhood in the assembly.
The Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Waithera Chege called for solidarity among the women caucus, terming it a key driver to success.
She thanked FEMNET for standing with women and heeding to the call by MCAs for a convening to dialogue and forge a strong movement of women leaders.
While condemning the in-fighting in the executive and assembly, she noted that the stand-off has seen the appointment of women in different committees, boards and party leaderships.
To fully realize the gender equality, Waithera urged the women members of parliament to mentor the county assembly women caucus and support them in rising up the political ladder.
While issuing her speech, the chief guest Kandara MP Alice Wahome congratulated the women leaders in the county assembly and encouraged them to exercise their full potential in bridging the gender gap in the county representation.
She also encouraged them to create a rapport with the women members of parliament, level their political differences as well as enhance their social and economic resilience to rise higher.
“Nominated posts disempower women. There are no funds allocation, office, staff and consequently less influence and representation,” said the second term elected MP of Kandara constituency who is geared to vie again come 2022 general election.
The bold lawmaker challenged the women leaders to enhance their influence by vying for elective positions to create spaces for special seats thereby encouraging them to build their economic muscles and mobilize funds for their ward constituents citing that money is key in politics.
“I fully support the dissolution of the parliament as advised by the Chief Justice for the non-compliance of the gender-principle. It is for the national interest. We cannot compromise inclusivity!” she said.
Wahome also recalled their devastation in losing to pass the gender bill for the fourth time after a robust lobby with the top executives and at grassroots level.
She added that the dissolution of parliament would bring in more resources, fairness, equity and inclusion in governance.
In her capacity as the member of Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, Wahome further expressed her displeasure on the procedural and structural irregularities exercised in the transfer of key functions of the Nairobi County government to the National Government thereby setting a bad precedent for devolution.
Among the key commitments, the women MCAs committed to stand against violence; supporting all motions and bills that are pro-women; working together as women irrespective of their political affiliations and identifying other partners to support more women aspirants, including young women.
The #WomenMustLead policy dialogue is a hosted by the FEMNET in partnership with International Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Women’s Political Participation Consortium that seek to mobilize and support women inclusion and influence in political participation in Africa.
Through policy advocacy, strengthening of capacities and generating research and knowledge, the WPP consortium partners are working with women leaders and institutions in Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to expand awareness and demand for the meaningful inclusion of all women in their diversities.
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