Preparing Women for leadership

women sitting

As Kenya prepares for the general election in March 2013, UNDP is equipping women with critical governance skills to help them contest for elective positions. Kenya lags behind in women representation.  Kenya’s women’s political representation stands at 9.8% against Rwanda’s 56.3%, South Africa 42.3%, Tanzania 36% and Uganda 35%. This trend can be reversed only if Kenya implements the constitutional quotas to realize the gains as provided in the constitution, which requires not more than two-thirds of the same gender in elective and appointive positions.

Standing up for women in Kenya

  • UNDP Kenya has set clear gender-sensitive goals and performance targets in its development programming. The programme continues to provide support to national priorities for the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment by supporting the implementation of appropriate laws, policies and frameworks that enable women to achieve their rights and live at par with men in Kenya as provided for in the new constitution.
  • So far, more than 350 women drawn from seven rural regions of Kenya have been trained on leadership skills through the Women Empowerment Link. This will prepare them for elective positions at national and county levels.

Prof. Maria Nzomo, Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, University of Nairobi, says:  “Kenya is going through a fluid political process, where parties are forming alliances to compete the general election in 2013.” She further argues that women can take advantage of this situation to position themselves strategically in the alliances in order to influence party decisions.  

Though women make up 52 % of Kenya’s population, they remain underrepresented in political leadership positions. Prof. Nzomo urges Kenyan women to engage the public by participating in public life, adding that women must seek to integrate the struggle for gender equity with the struggle for democracy and progress.

Hon. Eugene Wamalwa, Minster for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, says: “The mechanism for electing the women representatives at the county level are clear but not the case for the national assembly and senate.”

“In this regard, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional affairs has developed the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2011 to provide a formula to ensure that not more than two-thirds of the members of the national assembly and senate shall be of the same,” says Hon. Wamalwa.

Through Amkeni Wakenya, a CSO facility managed by UNDP, in collaboration with the Women’s Empowerment Link and civil society organizations have established Women Leadership Academy, which aims to increase women participation in governance in Kenya through promoting gender responsive policies and building capacity of women to participate in governance processes.

So far, more than 350 women drawn from seven rural regions of Kenya have been trained on leadership skills through the Women Empowerment Link.  This will prepare them for elective positions at national and county levels. In these trainingsthe women are educated on their rights under the new constitution, leadership skills, campaign and fundraising skills, communication skills, new governance structure and rules governing Kenyan elections and how to be involved in political parties.

“The training opened my mind on the various Laws governing elections in Kenya which I did not know. As a result, I’m now more knowledgeable and ensuring I do not do anything that will jeopardize my candidature,” says Eunice, training beneficiary and woman aspirant. Of the trained 350 women, 70 women have confirmed to contest in the next elections and are already campaigning for various positions.  

The project also works with ‘Women’s Think Tank, a civil society, to analyse Bills being prepared for presentation to parliament. Through their work the Women’s Academy and the Think Tank have analyzed five Bills and engaged with the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution, Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee and parliamentary committees to enable them to incorporate women’s feedback and concerns on the Bills and 25 % of their comments have been incorporated in the Acts.