Monday, February 8, 2010

Gender Equality and Politics: The relationship

The ladies in Kenya constitute over 50%+1 of the registered voters. However, their representation in parliament barely scratches a 10%! Given that the value or weight of a vote is the same regardless of the gender of the holder of such a vote,what happens to our ladies' votes is a puzzle no one is bothering to solve.

Unfortunately, nobody ever tells our ladies that their representation in parliament is the sole criteria that the government uses to allocate senior government post, and not the actual population.A good example is the elections coordinators recently appointed by the IIEC. Overall, women constitute about 14% of all the constituency coordinators,a reflection of the overall representation of women in the 10th parliament!

We shall shout MDG3 until we go blue in the face, but we will always end up with 10% representation of ladies in parliament, and a similar percentage in top government position. It's high time we got equal representation of women and men in elective positions.

Towards this goal, I am carrying out 'project Queensville 2012'. This is a project primarily aimed at ensuring that half(50%) of all Parliamentary positions will be held by the ladies after the 2012 general election. This will, in effect, create a GENDER FOUNTAIN from which gender equity will flow to the rest of the society.

I plan on reaching about 5 million ladies before the General Elections slated for 2012. The message to all these ladies: VOTE exclusively for lady candidates in the 2012 general elections! This applies to all the elective positions up for grabs in 2012.

By my reckoning,the only reason some ladies don't vote for fellow ladies is because they have a "weakness mentality". Such ladies believe they are weak and they,therefore, cant get their minds round the idea that their fellow females could be capable of being leaders. They end up voting for men because to their minds,leadership means men!

Nota bene: if you have ever voted for a lady candidate,or that 2012 will be your first time just consider yourself officially a "Queen of spades" i.e an intelligent & strong lady!

Open letter to COE/PSCC on "1/3 of any gender rule"

THE gender affirmative action provisions in the drafts (COE& PSCC) will, in the fullness of time, prove to be a hindrance rather than a thoroughfare for the ladies on their way to the Canaan of gender equality and equity.

For starters, the sum total of all the proposed “seats” for the ladies amount to a pitiful 20% of all the elective positions up for grabs in any general election. This leaves a whooping 80% of the seats up to interpretation as to their ‘ownership’, and which a wiser male chauvinist than Njoka-_yes, Him of the maendeleo ya wanaume fame- could “interpret” to mean that they are left exclusively for the men!

Assuming that this constitution is being prepared to serve the country for generations, is it wise to put a specific provision (about 30% of all the elective seats for the ladies)? .This smirks of calculated move to put in place a bullet- proof glass ceiling for the ladies disguised as a boon!

This is also an admission of a “weakness mentality” in the ladies; that whatever they try and no matter their individual achievements, there will always be a point above which they won’t reach or pass as a group. Placing 30 %( 1/3) as the best the ladies can get in the constitution, and effectively "casting the position in stone”, is rather un-ambitious given that the ladies constitute over 50%+ 1 of the population in Kenya.

Secondly, the senate as proposed by the PSCC is actually not as bad it sounds. It is worse. It’s much like a poodle masquerading as German shepherd. Collectively, the whole of the senate does not have the muscle to shift even a comma in a legislation (bill), let alone pass it. The senate is just a “chamaa”, with the odd man to chair the various useless committees!

The senate as proposed by the COE is better. But getting the requisite numbers of ladies to staff it will be a miracle bordering on the impossible.

Thirdly grouping women with the marginalized, the minority or the disabled is not only unfortunate, but it greatly erodes on their dignity. It’s hard to overstate the significant role of the ladies in the society, so one would be hard pressed to consider them disabled. They constitute over 50% +1 of the registered voters in Kenya considering them or marginalized or minority borders on the insane.

The real problem behind the discrepancy between the actual women voters and their eventual representation in parliament is basically a function of the “weakness mentality’ in ladies. This state of mind transcends boundaries, religions, races and even level of education, as I have explained in ‘’. I am in the process of solving this through “project Queensville 2012”

The fourth point concerns the devil in the details of how the requisite numbers of the ladies will be elected to satisfy the constitution’s provisions. It is well and good to state that “no more than two thirds of the members shall be of the same gender” in a party manifesto or an MOU as the said parties are not legally bound to stick to it. But, it’s a whole different kettle of fish to state the same in a constitution. What will happen if the current state of affairs obtain (parliament: over 80% male). Will we ‘fire’ some elected MPs as it will be inconsistent with the constitution or will the whole election exercise be made null and void and a fresh one prepared? Even better,will we end up amending the new constitution?

Most of the ladies will be sourced from the counties, probably in the misguided belief that it’s easier to elect female councilors than female MPs. Given the current ratio of female to male councilors, I would be hard-pressed to concur with that kind of an assumption.

This will turn out to be the weakest link in the whole of the gender provisions in the draft, and a Potential quicksand for the whole of the new constitution. Unless of course, someone comes up with a way of placing a foundation below that beautiful castle that is gender provisions. And if you do, please let me know. It just might make my project that much easier to conclude!

Ephraim Njuguna Ngugi


Obama's nasty anniversary present

On the 20th of January 2010, Obama and his fellow Democrats were handed a resounding defeat in the race for a Massachusetts’s senate seat. This was all thanks to the all pervasive ‘weakness mentality’ in and about women in the society.

This particular senate seat was crucial for both the Democrats as well as the Republicans. A win for the Democrats would have given them a majority that would ensure that their bills, including the Health care Bill, sail through without ‘sweet –talking’ the Republicans.

The win for the Republicans gave them the muscle to forestall any Democrats’ bills, if they so wish.

Democrats considered this particular senate seat ‘a safe seat’ for various reasons. The seat had been held by the famous Kennedy’s (democrats) since the ‘70s and the number of registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans 3:1 in Massachusetts. Having ‘won big’ in ‘08, the Democrats were hoping that the tendancy of the people to associate themselves with winners would work in their favor. Democrats also counted on the fact that since in any normal society women outnumber men, Martha would have an ‘undue advantage’.

The democrats went right ahead and carried out a lackluster campaign in the belief that the senate seat was already “in the bag”.

They didn’t factor in two major factors:

(a) The 'high stake' health care bill debate which was producing more heat than light.
(b) The “weakness mentality” in and about women

I stand by my assertion that any time in campaigns when the stakes are high, men and women tend to gravitate towards a ‘strong choice’ (read man) as a safe bet.
The health care bill debate had long ago evolved from a simple straight-forward issue of legislation to the highly emotive realm of a ‘campaign’, replete with labels such as socialism, capitalism, weakness, etc. A bill about giving fellow Americans access to health care became just an unnamed “IT”

I n the senate race campaigns, Martha was just going to the senate to ‘pass ‘it’’. But Scott was going to the senate so that he could ‘kill ‘it’’.

“Killing it” coupled with terms such as ‘a strong America,’
“Say no socialism’ etc had all the ingredients of “maleness” in it. It wouldn’t take rocket science to figure out where all the women’s votes were headed. It mattered none that most of the ladies who voted for Scot wouldn’t have an issue with the whole issue of providing the over 30 million Americans with health care. They just wanted somebody ‘strong’ to go the senate to ‘kill ‘it’’ (not the health care bill!) for them.
Martha’s goose was cooked as soon as the campaign and the debate on “it” merged. Incidentally negative labels such as “socialist” ‘weak’ stick easier on women any day.
I posit here that in the mid-term US elections slated for later this year, not one woman candidate will succeed. Unless of course, their spin-doctors carry out a massive campaign strategy akin to “project Queensville 2012”.!