The position of the women’s representative in the national assembly is anchored in the Kenyan constitution by dint of Article 97 (b) which states that “forty-seven women, each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency;”. This article concerns the membership of the National Assembly. It follows therefore that a women’s representative is no less than any other member of parliament elected to represent a constituency as far as the scope of powers, privileges and duties are concerned. The framers of the “renaissance” constitution and the people of Kenya, who overwhelmingly voted for the constitution on 4th August, 2010 were seeking to bridge the gender gap between the two genders and not to restrict the ability of the feminine gender, to emancipate women from electoral and representative subjugation.
Having more women in parliament will also help push the agenda of the vulnerable girl child in parliament and enactment of key policy decisions. Some progress has been made towards women empowerment, but a lot still needs to be done. We have seen what a strictly patriarchal hegemony society like that obtaining in Saudi Arabia ( where most crimes are punishable by death mostly through beheading, in 2012 alone, 79 people were beheaded) is capable of doing (like the outrageous and vile case reported but unconfirmed) recent letting off the hook of cleric Fayan Al-Ghamdi who raped and tortured his five-year-old girl to death and all he got was a slap on the wrist, he was allowed to walk free by a judge upon payment of a blood money to her mother who he divorced but kept custody of the vulnerable girl. Had there been women represented in the making of laws, such a heinous act would have been punished with a punishment fitting the crime.
The National Assembly represents all the people of Kenya, not just women, it is therefore imperative for voters to discard the notion that a women’s representative in the national assembly will only be holding brief for women’s affairs, but rather this is a person who will be making laws which will bind the whole country. All eligible voters are allowed to vote for a women’s representative and not just women alone. Women have the world over since the days of Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, Cardis Collins in Illinois, Angela Merkel of Germany, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and Bernadine Rose Senanayake of Sri Lanka shown their mettle for leadership articulating issues of all people, not just their fellow women. The Kenyan constitution has now put women in the driving seat and guaranteed a place at the national table for our mothers and sisters and is upon us to make the wise and right choice as to who we elect. Let us not just elect as a going concern, but as serious business. We must thoroughly interrogate the candidates and their agenda. Those who have already served in the national assembly are measured on a high bar; they must give account of their actions in parliament and their contribution to national legislation.
Having said that, the ball is now in our court. Our destiny and future is not in the hands of fate, but it lies within us. We have to play our roles as responsible citizens of this country to sensitize the voters about the importance of voting for a capable, honest, courageous and time tested individual who has a passion for the betterment of the people and the citizens of this country as a women’s representative. This must be a person with innovative and business ideas which can transform the lives of Kenyans of all cadres, not just the middle class and upper income bracket. We must still keep hope alive by seizing every moment that is thrown our way. The last five years have represented doom and gloom from our legislature, but we must not give up, all is not lost and we have that opportunity to redeem the stature of our national assembly. We have overcome the 10th parliament.
I have already made up my mind on who to elect to the national assembly to represent my constituency Dagoretti South i.e Dennis Kariuki Waweru a man whose background is business having been a director at Faida Securities a stock brokerage firm. It is a fact that employment is not the panacea of all the problems bedeviling our people because not all those who graduate from educational institutions will get employed; some must employ others or own and manage their businesses. To this end, we must therefore elect people who have already walked the talk where we can transact a quid pro quo with our votes.
For the position of the women’s representative for Nairobi County, I have unequivocally without any fear of contradiction already settled for Esther Passaris popularly known as Mama Taa (vying on Peter Kenneth’s Kenya National Congress Party) to carry the torch. My decision is guided by the fact that she has consistently shown that it does not always take the state to create employment, but a conducive environment by virtue of incentives like tax breaks and loosening the choke of bureaucracy for citizens to create wealth, employ others and pay their fair share of taxes. Since her days at Sharper Images to Adopt-A-Light, she has always been an employer of all classes of people. As much as it was business, at least she never chose the option of stacking away her monies in some Swiss, Jersey, or Cayman Island bank accounts but took a risk to invest in Kenya and in Kenyans. Her covenant is with the Kenyan people, not banks per se.
So good people, as Esther would say, let us not be filled with fear of what we cannot accomplish, but have faith in what we can accomplish when God is on our side. Volunteer, bring your friends, colleagues and neighbours on board the caravan, spread the word and let the message send Mama Taa to parliament, who knows, with her business background, she may just turn out to be history making as Hon. Eng. Muriuki Karue of the Constituency Development Fund or Hon. Njoki Ndung’u famously of the Sexual Offences Act. And currently a Supreme Court of Kenya judge.