The proposal to have reservation of legislative seats for women has generated heated reactions with members of the public wondering why the seats should be reserved as the new constitution already has given women a better platform to compete for political office.
Charles Musyoka, a kiosk owner in Kawangware is among the people who do not agree with this move. “What women are proposing is not fair at all; they wanted to have an opportunity to compete just like the men and they got that. Why ask for more?” he asks.
He adds that what they (women) are proposing now is not gender equality. They, he adds, should be able to compete on the same level as men.
His sentiments were echoed by Ben Murugi, a Kenyatta University Student, who holds that if women are to be reserved seats in Parliament then it should also apply in the other genders.
“We wanted equality and we have it. Why should we start favoring one gender?” Murugi poses adding that if this reservation were to happen, then it will infringe on people's civic rights in the reserved constituencies.
Evelyne Njeri, a waitress holds that what Kenyans fought for was equity not equality. “Women will never be the same as men. What men can do, women will not do the same.”
She adds that men say fair play when they know that being on the same ground with women will not be the same case. "Most often our election are marred with violence and women do not have the capacity to protect themselves as the men."
“It is not about gender equality since one gender is already known to be more influential than the other when it comes to politics and our society will always support them,” says Njeri.
Leah Wangechi executive director at Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) says that the proposal to reserve seats for women was reached because the law says that one gender should not be represented with more than two thirds and if the proposal is not enforced, the constitution will be breached in the next general elections.
“Politics in this country is known to be for the wealthy, influential, violent and if women are to compete on the same ground then they will lose because most lack resources and they are not violent,” holds Wangechi.
She adds that the proposal, if adapted, will not infringe on the civic rights the voters since the election for these women candidates will be rotational in the cluster of constituencies they are in and it will be announced early for any male candidate to look for another position.
Wangechi explains that the proposal is so that people can test the leadership of women and that every constituency will be at least represented by a woman in one time.
“South Africa has this system in place, Bangladesh and India also have this system and it has worked well in these countries why not Kenya?” she asks.
When asked what happens if this reservations are not met, the CREAW ED says after the next general election and one gender surpasses the two third threshold, then such an occurence would lead the nation to amend the constitution or add more seats so as to accommodate the other gender, which she feels will be a burden to the tax payers.