Kenyan women lawyers want President Uhuru Kenyatta to heed to Chief Justice David Maraga’s call and dissolve Parliament.
The Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) that held a solidarity march in support of women’s maternal health and gender parity said implementation of the two-thirds gender rule was long overdue while accusing parliament of downplaying the constitutional provision.
The women lawyers say the constitution of the bicameral parliament is unconstitutional.
“Parliament is in contravention of the Constitution and they have been given more than enough time to enact the necessary legislation but have refused to do so” said Executive Director Anne Ireri.
Our Executive Director Anne W. Ireri addressing media.We are here to advocate for maternal health care and to support the Chief Justice's decision on the two thirds gender rule. #FIDASRHR #MaternalHealthRights@FordFoundation@childspace https://t.co/FLd25KnVQd pic.twitter.com/KLYEJVebQe
— FIDA-Kenya (@fidakenya) September 23, 2020
The federation has been in the forefront pushing for the enforcement of the legislation on the 2/3 gender principle. Four months ago, the lawyers sued speakers of National Assembly and Senate as well as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Attorney-General.
They faulted the government for alleged violation of women rights to access quality maternal health care.
They cited last week’s incident where a woman gave birth outside Pumwani hospital in an incident that has elicited public outcry.
“Other than mismanagement and corruption, the health care system in Kenya comes out as discriminative against women who come from less advantageous backgrounds. This lack of accountability is a vice that needs to be urgently addressed” Ireri said.
“FIDA-Kenya on behalf of the women of Kenya calls the Kenyan Government, Council of Governors and Ministry of Health. We want the enactment of law for women to access maternal health care” she added.
The Amani National Congress (ANC) women’s league has weighed in on the gender parity dispute calling for a sober national dialogue to avert a constitutional crisis.
National league chairperson and Vihiga Woman Representative Beatrice Adagala says the implementation of the gender rule is a critical requirement that cannot be overlooked. She is however advocating for national consensus as well as having Kenyans interrogate the consequences of the proposed action by the Chief Justice.
“We call for dialogue to build a national consensus on this emotive issue. The Two-Third Gender Principle is not just about women and men. It is about inclusivity in governance” she said in a statement.
She said the women leaders were solely behind their party boss Musalia Mudavadi call for wider and national discussions to avert a possible constitutional crisis.
While pointing out several weighty issues that she challenged Kenyans to take into account before rushing to support attempts to send MPs home, Adagala noted that the country was ill-prepared for a snap election.
“What if the President heeds the advisory and dissolves Parliament? Are we prepared for the consequences? Is IEBC legally constituted to handle the ensuing by-elections? Do we have the budgetary allocations?” She poses.
Meanwhile, the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) has called on the President to dissolve parliament as advised by Chief Justice David Maraga saying it has failed in executing its mandate.
In a statement issued by its chair who is also the Nyandarua county assembly speaker Ndegwa Wahome, the forum accused the assembly of not only failing to pass the two third gender rule but failing to pass the County Wards Equitable Development Fund bill.
On Tuesday, members of parliament defeated the said bill that was meant to allocate 30 per cent of county funds to the wards.
The chairman termed this as a major blow to bringing services to the people and hence urged the President to dissolve the parliament as advised by the chief justice as the law prescribes.
“The expectation of the County Assemblies Forum and the public at large was that MPs should have been in the forefront in advocating for the County Wards (Equitable) Development Fund Bill as it promises more development to Citizens of Kenya at the Ward level and for equitable development and growth across the Counties.” He said.