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Women, Minority groups’ participation in Elections vital for Sustainable Development

Nairobi, Sunday, 28 May 2017/………International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) is calling upon Kenyan voters to elect women, youth, and minority representatives in the August 2017 general election.

We observe that political and constitutional commitments to achieve gender balance in leadership and governance positions have not been met in Kenya. We cannot wait any more to achieve parity in the decision-making bodies that shape policies and laws that tremendously affect the entire spectrum of the country’s population.

We need to put an end to the existing socio-economic and cultural discrimination against women, youth and minority groups to see them in the leadership roles. Their participation in senior political positions is required in order to bring about positive change and sustainable development.

With the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010 that contains many positive provisions to advance gender equality as well as Kenya’s national and international commitments for the same, there has been significant progress in the country in the recent years. However, many serious challenges remain and a coherent approach among political parties is needed to ensure women's leadership and representation in local governance.

Women, youth and minority groups’ participation in local governance as voters is simply not enough. What is more crucial is to push for greater leadership roles in the pursuit of national development. We cannot develop vibrant inclusive participatory democracy if all are not given the opportunity to participate due to gender disparities and other retrogressive social identities.

There is no discriminatory law against women, youth and minority groups in politics. However, there are overt and covert practices which hinder their abilities to lead successful campaigns for political positions alongside their male counterparts. 

 De facto discrimination against women, traditional beliefs and practices, monetization of elections, unequal playing field created by political parties and negative media reporting are serious factors that affect effective participation of women, youth and minority groups in the political and policy processes.  The consequence is that these vulnerable and marginalized groups remain excluded from the political decision-making processes as leaders, legislators, ministers and chief executives, and not enough of their needs are incorporated into policy formulation.

Ensuring women’s, men’s and minority groups’ equal participation in governance processes and the decisions that affect their lives is vital for achieving inclusive and effective governance. Countries with increased participation and leadership of women, youth and minority groups tend to be more inclusive, responsive, egalitarian, and democratic.

Therefore, strengthening their rights and addressing barriers to political participation is critical to achieving gender equality. Gender gap in political participation is growing with obvious ill effects for women, youth and minority groups’ health, economics, education and work.

Achieving gender equality depends on ensuring that the voices of diverse women, youth and minority groups are heard in Kenya’s public discourse. Whenever this more than three quarter of the country’s population is empowered to participate in the democratic and public life of their country, they can shape the institutions and decisions that affect their lives.

We note that no country has achieved gender equality across all areas of public and private sector. Therefore amplifying women, youth and minority groups’ voices, expanding their agency, and boosting their leadership and influence is vital to the achievement of democracy, good governance, inclusive economic development, environmental sustainability, and durable peace.

Ends/.

Signed by:

Ndung’u Wainaina,

 

Executive Director, ICPC.