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Parliamentary elections in Kenya took place on the 8th of August 2017.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the presidential contest with 54% of the vote, whilst his main challenger Raila Odinga receiving 45% of the vote. Odinga appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the cancelling of the results and ordered new elections to be held within 60 days.

The President of Kenya is elected through a modified version of the two-round system: to win in the first round, the candidate must receive over 50% of the vote nationally and 25% of the vote in at least 24 of Kenya's 47 counties. The 337 members of the National Assembly are elected according to two methods; 290 are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The remaining 47 seats are reserved for women and are elected from single-member constituencies based on the 47 counties, also using the first-past-the-post system.  

Women’s Political Participation

In Kenya, women and men enjoy the same rights to vote and stand for election although women standing for public office often face hostility. Quotas have also been legislated at the national and sub-national levels to encourage women’s political participation, and several of the main political parties have enacted voluntary quotas that reserve one-third of the seats for women (although the latter has not always been put into practice). The country has seen an increase in women’s representation in the Parliament from 9.8 per cent to 19 per cent in recent years (2007 – 2013), but most political parties are still dominated by men who monopolize the decision-making structures. After the 2017 elections, 273 men and 76 women were elected in the National Assembly. In addition, 21,8% of women are assigned a position in lower or single house while 30,9% in upper House or Senate.

Although Kenya ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1984, it has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW or the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). Female poverty is exacerbated by gender-based violence, including sexual violence, rape, physical violence and sexual harassment while their empowerment is hindered by polygamy, early marriage and harmful cultural and traditional practices such as female genital cutting. Traditional practices governing inheritance, acquisition of land and benefits accruing to land produce continue to favour men. Women’s ability to access the justice system is limited by legal costs, traditional justice systems, illiteracy and ignorance of rights.

Conclusion

The new Kenyan Constitution is rather progressive in terms of achieving gender parity: Despite these provisions, the government has yet to live up to this goal. There has been notable improvement in terms of performance from 2013. It must be noted that for the first time, Kenyans elected three women Governors and three women Senators were elected out of a possible 47. In 2017 general elections, women performance improved. 

 

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