NAIROBI – Hundreds of women marched through Nairobi on Monday to protest the president’s failure to name women to at least one-third of government positions, as Kenya’s constitution requires.
Two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a Cabinet shakeup, naming nine people for high-ranking government positions. Not one of the nominees was a woman.
The president also dropped all five women from his earlier Cabinet.
Activists — led by Wangeci Wachira, the head of the Center for Rights, Education and Awareness – marched to the president’s office at Harambee House on Monday to present him with a petition, demanding the appointment of at least nine women to the Cabinet.
“The women of Kenya are tired of being treated like second-class citizens, and now stand together to ensure that we take our right to a place at the decision-making table,” Wachira said. “We will continue to agitate and use all means at our disposal to ensure that our demands are met and the right to equal political participation and representation is realized at all levels of decision-making in Kenya.”
The 2010 constitution required that women hold at least one-third of the seats in parliament and one-third of appointed state positions. It also set aside 47 special parliamentary seats for women.
However, the gender requirements have never been met. In Kenya’s latest election, held last year, just 23 women were elected to regular seats in the National Assembly.
Two Kenyan rights groups have petitioned the High Court to compel the government to follow the constitution, but the court has not said when it might issue a ruling.