Constitutional Referendum Part IV

The next presentation by Dannitah Ghita from the League of Kenyan Women Voters dealt with the status of women in the constitution. She felt that overall there was a “net loss” for women when you compared the Bomas Draft with the Wako Draft. She listed the following as some of the gains for women:

o Citizenship – women can now confer citizenship on a spouse or a child, however, in Bomas was automatic but in Kilifi is not guaranteed but is subject to approval.
o Bill of Rights – recognizes that women and men have equal rights (section 38).
o Specific protection for property rights
o Affirmative action – 1/3 of the party lists reserved for women (but less than what was proposed in Bomas in terms of its application e.g. Bomas extended to government commissions).
o At no time shall parliament consist of more than 2/3 of one gender.
o Constitution supercedes customary law where it conflicts as far as discrimination against women.

Some of the losses:
o Under Bomas, gender balance was a criteria for political party funding. Kilifi/Wako, mentions gender balance as important but not mentioned as a specific criteria.
o Abortion is not permitted without an act of parliament even in cases where the woman’s health is in danger.

3-part cribbed from FES handout comparison.

1. Current Constitution

- Bill of Rights does not accord emphasis to the rights of women.
- Provisions on citizenship discriminate against women (sec 89 and 90)
- Legal status of women negated by exceptions relating to recognition of customary law in respect to personal law matters.
- Gender equality only recognized with respect to nominated MPs.
- No party funding and no links to gender balance
- No guaranteed seats on constitutional commissions or other public bodies.

2. Bomas Draft
- Bill of Rights emphasizes the rights of women and minorities – Chapter 6
- Prohibition of any law (including customary law) that treats men and women differently.
- Property rights of women accorded recognition and protection
- At least 1/3 of the affirmative action seats reserved for women. Representation in the senate include at least two women from each region (lost in Kilifi)
- Gender balance to be a criterian for political party funding.
- Guaranteed seats on constitutional commissions and other public bodies (lost in Kilifi)

3. Kilifi/Wako Draft
- Bill of Rights emphasizes right to equal treatment and the need for special measures to redress imbalances.
- Prohibition of any law (including customary law) that treats men and women differently.
- Property rights of women accorded special protection.
- Special seats for women and at least 1/3 of the party list seats reserved for women
- Gender equality and equity required in principle but no relationship to party funding
- No guaranteed seats on constituional commissions or other public bodies.

8 comments to Constitutional Referendum Part IV

  • May I begin by awarding you an A+ on you responses. Every issue addressed and good direction offered. That’s great service to the likes of us who are seeking this information and it is appreciated.

    Thanks, glad you are finding it useful.

    That being said, I hope you’ll be returning to read comments and provide feedbacks on these past referendum posts.

    Have done my best to try and respond where appropriate, if i’ve left anything hanging please point it out (sometimes lack of regular internet access has me in a rush).

    I need time to catch up with you and I like bankelele will need a weekend (wish I had a long one to look forward to) before I can ‘chambua’ these things and form an opinion, informed one at least.

  • I refer to your previous post, ”The rise of Africa’s women politicians”. This brings hope and illuminates the possibilities therein. The Kilifi draft on the other hand, albeit lacking in the Executive and devolution, does highlight in acknowledgement and acceptance of equal rights irrespective of gender. This is the conflict and perhaps the irony of this process: positive initiatives mid squalor motives. I wonder which way forward given that a legislative standoff is invariably inevitable.

    That’s the big question, what happens after Nov. 21st…no one seems to have a clue.

    Incidentally, on Oct 28th and 29th, The Strathmore University Ethics Conference will be a true measure of logical insight into the ongoing process. The Speakers range from Hon. Kaparo, Hon. Justice Nyamu to Dr.Richard leakey. If this Conference is in your radar screen I’m convinced we’ll be tuned in to your breakdown.

    It was on my radar screen, but I’ll unfortunately be out of town and won’t be able to cover it.

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