Who is a woman representative and what is her role?

By Kristine Gathoni Mugo

We note that Parliament of Kenya is on two levels: at the National Assembly and the Senate. Women representation has then been made possible on these two levels.

At the National Assembly each county is to elect one-woman representative making the total number to be 47-woman representatives in the country.

Persons elected into these positions form part of the National Assembly. Which consists of two hundred and ninety (290) members each being elected from a constituency plus twelve (12) other members nominated by political parties representing the youth, marginalised groups and persons with disabilities. The National Assembly also consists of a speaker who is an ex-official member.

Likewise, the Senate is comprised of forty-seven (47) members, sixteen women nominated by political parties, one man and one woman, representing the youth, two members, being one man and one woman, representing persons with disabilities and the Speaker, who shall be an ex officio member.

Currently, the streets, neighbourhoods, walls and even vegetation are bearing the brunt of campaign materials glued on to announce a candidate’s manifesto. Each poster is distinct with colour, party and face. The promise to bring change, build bridges to bringing economic freedom and hope.

Just like any other candidate, the woman representative is campaigning to clinch the coveted position that is seen as an affirmative action effort to gender representation and realizing the progressive right of a two-third gender rule.

As colourful as it may seem, a woman representative has her job cut out according to the constitution in addition to their personal manifesto. Accordingly, and being a member of the National assembly, she is expected to: represent the people of the constituencies and special interests in the National Assembly, deliberate on and resolves issues of concern to the people, enact legislation as guided by the constitutional law making process, determine the allocation of national revenue between the levels of government as provided in the constitution, appropriate funds for expenditure by the national government and other national State organs, exercise oversight over national revenue and its expenditure, exercise oversight of State organs and approve declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency.

Additionally, the woman representative should also be part of review of the conduct in office of the President, the Deputy President and other State officers and initiate the process of removing them from office.

Of importance to note is that a woman representative is part of the National Assembly and hence she should fully participate in its mandate.

Just like any other member of parliament, a woman is eligible for election for the position of a woman representative if she a registered voter, satisfies the educational, moral and ethical requirements of the constitution or an Act of Parliament. She should also be nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate supported by at least one thousand registered voters in the constituency.

Likewise, the person seeking election into this position may be disqualified if they serve as a state officer or public officer, as, at any time within the five years immediately preceding the date of election, held office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least the ten years immediately preceding the date of election, member of a county assembly, unsound mind, is an undischarged bankrupt, has been imprisoned for six months at the date of registration as a candidate or date of election. Or is found in accordance with any law to have misused or abused a State office or public office.

Most importantly, a woman representative’s main job is to throw her weight and wit around legislation and matters concerning women and the girl child at both the National Assembly and the Senate.

Forthwith, just as she gets her mandate from the people of the constituency that put her in Parliament they have the right to recall her should they feel dissatisfied with her performance.

Sovereignty belongs to the people of Kenya.

The author is an advocate, mediator and managing partner at Gathoni Mugo & Co Advocates. mugokristine508@gmail.com

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