Kenya’s checkered political history should have taught the nation a few important lessons by now,the first being that marginalization and exclusions build up resentment and contempt that explodes at the worst possible moment and the only true safeguard against social upheavals and civil unrest,  is a compulsive adherence to the rule of law, which is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy. All Kenyans have the inalienable right to participate in public life on equal terms which includes political activity and elections.

It is incontrovertible that women are integral to  our democracy. No nation in the world would consider itself democratic, or at least liberal if women (or any section of society for that matter) were prevented, deliberately or otherwise, from living productive and fulfilling lives and participating in all decision-making. But the electoral landscape in Kenya

Crawn Trust’s Executive Director, Ms. Daisy Amdany during a television interview in July 2017.

 

 

The 2017 election year was markedly bad one for the nation, and particularly worse for women. If not sidelined in the political coalitions, women were attacked violently during campaigns and the election, there were reported incidents of domestic and sexual violence revolving around political ideologies or preferences. The last straw must have been the nomination of a list of Cabinet members that was contrary to Article 27 (8) and lacked the requisite 1/3 minimum gender representation.

Liberty is often won through conflict, confrontation and resistance but is only preserved when all persons are held accountable before the same laws applied impartially. When a class of elites circumvents the law, they are jeopardizing the national social cohesion and are eroding the foundations of our democratic state.
Women have been derailed and isolated from the democratic process. There is no audience in national or county leadership for the views of women. In part, the solution must lie in a political agenda that is owned by women. For instance, a women’s manifesto with clear points of actions and strategic demands such as universal healthcare, preferential treatment of women’s businesses and substantive involvement and representation at all levels is extremely important. Kenyan women must own a unique political vehicle just as they continue to excel in the commercial front.
By deliberate design or sheer irreverence, women’s views on the quality of political candidates have been made irrelevant, and their votes have been diluted by a corrupted electoral process. So steep is the financial and social cost of candidacy that many women cannot sustain competitive campaigns and if they are unsuccessful they must suffer shame, debt and in some instances ostracization. These all have the net effect of making politics less accessible to women and finally creating and replicating patriarchal governments in succession. Women are pushed to the far reaches of the political arena and left to fight for scraps or appeasement positions.

 


The year 2017 marked the second election and swearing in of a legislature that was unconstitutional and therefore, undemocratic. Through the constitutional lens, a body that has more than two thirds representation of a single gender is as good as a dictatorship. Simply put, now women means no democracy.
The women of Kenya must realize that the erosion of one constitutional imperative will herald other greater violations of our supreme law. Kenya is in the throws of a powerful cataclysm and the entire constitutional fabric is being ripped apart by powerful and malevolent forces. A sustainable solution must be found, and women must be part of the process.
What the nation requires going forward is an socio-economic alliance of women that undergirds their legitimate and valid political ambitions. The tide must now turn so that women are so entrenched in business their advancement in the political front is more or less a fait accompli.

 

 

Thursday 7th February, 2018. Parliament Buildings, Nairobi.

Many objettions were raised; the central point of attack against the list devised by HE Uhuru Kenyatta was a patently clear absence of gender parity in the nominations and the absence of persons with disabilities and the youth. A list with only three women nominated for the ‘position’ of Chief Administrative Secretary as against twelve men is clearly inequitable.

The vetting process by the National Assembly is the last safeguard against the introduction of persons who are unfit for office, but significantly also for testing whether any list so provided meets the constitutional thresholds.

The list was devised in blatant disregard of a court order in the case of Marilyn Kamuru & Daisy Jerop Amdany v The Attorney General, in which the learned judge held that in spite of the rather implausible arguments raised by the advocate appearing for the state, all lists for Cabinet posts had to meet the threshold of notless than one third of the opposite gender being represented.

Ultimately, it remains a staring contest between a recalcitrant Executive, a complicit legislature and a voiceless Judiciary.

Under the new Constitution of Kenya, adherence to the rule of law is mandatory. In addition, any exercise of power or authority must transparent, An government that fears or shuns scrutiny attracts the accusation that it is not democratic.

Our Constitution is categorical that our Government owes a solemn duty to account for its deeds and misdeeds and must therefore embrace rather than escape the critical eye of the citizenry and the fourth estate. It is unfortunate that accountability has yet to be entrenched in Kenya as good and sound governmental practice. The national and county governments do not account for their use of power, and very vaguely do they approach financial disclosure.

Executive power in particular requires a ‘delicate touch’ when it is exercised. The Constitution in Art. 47 requires that any administrative action that affects the rights of a person should be made in writing and must be timely, efficient and expeditious. There is no object way to establish whether or not these principles have been complied with other than within the broad structures of oversight and accountability. Importantly, accountability is almost impossible to safeguard if the state officers have been cultured in secrecy and deception.

There are numerous constitutional and statutory safeguards against government secrecy. For instance, there is the Access to Information Act that requires that the State proactively disclose any information that is important to the nation in precise terms and disclose information if any request for it is received. One of the fundamental principles that governs the operations and the responsibilities of the independent constitutional commissions is that they are to hold the three arms of government to account.

An examination of the eight year legacy of the 2010 Constitution will reveal very limited success in making the rule of law a permanent feature of government. Because all Kenyans have the right to fair administrative action (Article 47 (1) and (2)) and the Constitution establishes that the provisions of the Constitution are interlinked and mutually supportive of each other, violations of Article 47 are effectively violations of the basic civic rights of all Kenyans. Unfortunately, not many understand that under the new dispensation, one violation is essentially trampling upon the entire Constitution. Failure to account for the use of public resources or powers of the State may occasion failure in access to clean and potable water, healthcare facilities, education and the other basic necessities of life. All who are conferred power are required to exercise it in line with the national principles of governance and on their own volition and without further requests to report back to the real ‘owners’ of that power, the sovereign people of Kenya.

Simply, accountability is mandatory. Acts designed to escape scrutiny are a very real threat to the democratic state and the well-being of Kenyans.

In conclusion, it is every Kenyan’s duty to remain vigilant and to question the activities of government even when it is inconvenient for them to do so.  The independent commissions must re-examine their role in the habitual violation of the constitution before the utility of these commissions and independent offices begins to be called into question.

CRAWN Trust’s commitment to substantive equality and equity in women’s political participation is founded on our long standing belief that Kenyan society will benefit from more participatory government that is responsive, accountable, inclusive and legitimate. As the Supreme Court’s Advisory Opinion 2 asserts:
The Court is fully cognizant of the distinct social imperfection which led to the adoption of Articles 27(8) and 81(b) of the Constitution, that in elective or other public bodies, the participation of women has, for decades, been held at bare nominal levels, on account of discriminatory practices or gender – indifferent laws, policies and regulations. These sentiments equally reflect the position of persons with disabilities, the youth, minorities and marginalized communities.

Democracy demands participation of all of society, including women, through representatives chosen through competitive processes or allocated positions based on comparative historical disadvantages. The Constitution is categorical that measures must be taken by the State to secure the representation of women in political leadership.
CRAWN Trust has since its inception tirelessly worked with women across the country to ensure they access opportunities in government whether elected or appointed and the number of women in government continues to grow. Our focus remains on ensuring that Kenyan government is composed of equal numbers of men and women distributed equitably across the hierarchy of political offices.
CRAWN has addressed structural challenges to the ⅔ Gender Rule by, amongst other interventions, pursuing public interest litigation to secure passage of the requisite legislation ( as required by Article 27 (8)) on several occasions with notable success.
until the legislation contemplated by Article 27(8) is enacted our objective remains unfulfilled but our commitment to good governance and obedience to Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya will never wane.

By developing the capabilities of women in business across all sectors, CRAWN Trust continues to facilitate the creation of fair and equitable businesses and economies.

Increasing the capacity of women to participate in the economy proficiently and profitably in sustainable business is at the heart of our strategic mission and objectives. We envision vibrant communities that reward women’s endeavours through socially conscious value chains; and businesses that put communities before financial profits.

Through dynamic training and capacity building programmes, we continue to confront and challenge gender-segregation in workplaces and the concentration of women in low-skill sectors or in low-wage or unpaid work. Thereafter, the women are absorbed into social value chains and compounding networks that boost their productivity and benefits. More productivity attracts greater and greater participation, and the net effects are spread beneficially across the entire economy.

Community Advocacy and Awareness (CRAWN) Trust is a non-profit organization registered as a Trust Corporation. CRAWN Trust is a multidisciplinary organization that specializes in advocacy, networking, empowerment, training, research, consulting and sustainable development approaches.  CRAWN Trust models its intervention from the gaps in development work which include sustainability of intervention and coordinated information and practice.  It responds to the needs of communities, governments, donor Agencies, civil society organizations and other development actors to ensure optimum interaction among these development actors.  CRAWN further partners with other like-minded civil society organizations countrywide to network and facilitate social, economic and political community empowerment.  We address injustice and poverty through human rights based approaches directly by creating linkages and enhancing of awareness of community members and the duty bearers.  We base this on experiences and learning that we gain every time we interact with different communities, governments, donor agencies and other development actors that we interact with at different levels.  We empower communities that we work with to interact directly with government and other duty bearers to inform policy at local and national levels.

Vision

A democratic society, found on informed people, thereby promoting peaceful and cohesive coexistence that respects diversities where citizens enjoy their full human rights and where justice for all is upheld.

Mission

To work with development partners to raise facts that promote an informed society that can address its environmental, socio-economic and political challenges through rights based approaches