Revv22's Blog

September 21, 2011

1/3rd is the least representation for women that would ensure gender equity

Kenya is a country that lacks many things. However intellectual and academic knowledge on its internal political and socio-economic dynamics is not one of those things.
Huge amounts of research have been carried out and we are fairly well versed in the areas that we need improvement. Gender equity and equality is certainly one of the areas. The nexus between gender and development is well known to us. Sociological research has been able to give us figures depicting how women have been and still are disenfranchised on all fronts of life.
In Kenya, the gross ratio for girl to boy child enrolment in primary and secondary schools is somewhat encouraging. The UN puts it at 85.0/88.7 (w/m per 100). However, of the total number of students enrolled at third-level education (colleges, university, polytechnics ), only 36% are female. In 2009, seats held by women in the national assembly were at 9.6%. That was before legislation made it mandatory to be credited with at least a university degree to be eligible to run for a parliamentary seat.
The two thirds gender rule is an idea whose time has come, no doubt. The question that remains however, is if we have done enough in preparation for its implementation. For the members of parliament who are grandstanding in view of the opinion that it is impossible to implement the gender rule I can only say one thing; you are displaying your ignorance and narrow mindedness in public. It is no easy feat I agree but to say its impossible; that’s ludacris.

Some of the hurdles that we face include cultural attitudes. Despite the liberation of the minds of the urbanised, most of the rural folk still hold on to patriarchal structures of society that give men right of leadership; from the primary political unit(the family), to regional representation. In some communities it is considered sacrilege for a woman to seek nomination for any position of leadership a traditionally male domain.
Girl child education, as shown above has only showed success in making sure women can read. That’s is if we are to judge by the numbers who go the whole stretch.
There are more and more women in business now than ever. Small and medium sized enterprises that feed a majority of lower and middle class families are mostly run by women. This wouldn’t be a hurdle if the men in most of those families didn’t eventually come in to control and have veto power over family finances. It is like the mans money is his, while the wife’s money is theirs.
So there is no problem with the gender law as it is. It represents the spirit of what we should work towards. Its implementation should have a more holistic approach; meaning that it should not only strive to instantaneously achieve the numbers (3 women out of every 9 parliamentarians), but also seek to make theses numbers acceptable and sustainable. The only feasible way to do so is to address the hurdles mentioned above which are embedded cultural attitudes and value systems.
Attitude change is a prerequisite for the success of any project that aims at effecting a change from cultural norms. Doing so would require the expert input of behavioural scientists; Anthropologists in particular who are concerned with the science of culture as a key area of interest. It is unfortunate that this is the same country that a minister for higher education would dare declared that such social science disciplines are useless and are a wast of resources.
That sort of attitude based on misguided value systems is the problem. It is the reason implementation is processes are given such narrow minded approaches.


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