Women leaders on Thursday made firm their stand for 50-50 gender representation in government positions as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) moves on to a new stage.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Gender CS Margaret Kobia and others reiterated the demand, noting the current system is dominated by men.
Ms Karua said that as a result, the women's agenda is often sidelined and thwarted by bodies such as Parliament.
“Our agenda and political gains in the past have often been trashed by Parliament, which is male-dominated. The advantage that comes with the BBI report is that it gives us an opportunity and a platform to have the conversation we need,” she said.
“Our common agenda remains the same - to have equal representation. Judging from the past, the instances where we stood together as women were the ones in which we were heard. [Division presents an opportunity] to trash women’s agenda."
She spoke during the Common Women Agenda Forum in Nairobi, where the women released their view of the BBI report.
The Common Women Agenda report states the proposals by women who demand senior positions in government. Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, lawyer Catherine Mumma and former parliamentarian Phoebe Asiyo were among those present.
The Narc Kenya leader further said Kenyans should advocate for policy reforms as opposed to a referendum as adherence to the law will ensure institutions work as they ought to.
“We do not necessarily need a constitutional review but many changes in policies and how we do things in government. The problems we have do not have anything to do with the Constitution but how we behave. The BBI report will be helpful in that regard,” she said.
The BBI report, which President Uhuru Kenyatta launched on November 27, is set for a second round of public participation following reports of discrepancies.
The next step will allow the task force to expand and guide public participation as well as structure recommendations into actionable plans.
CS Kobia noted the urgent need to do more if the country hopes to achieve gender inclusion in government institutions.
“We have made great gains in education, health and the economy but we need to do more in political involvement for women. We can only achieve this by working together,” she said.
In a separate forum, former nominated Senator Judy Sijeny urged women to go over the BBI report to fully understand how the recommendations affect them.
During a Women in Business leadership summit in Nairobi on Thursday, the former senator said lack of knowledge on government initiatives and reports often causes populations, such as women, to be left out.
“The items in the BBI report directly affect us all, especially those in business. Issues such as security, devolution, corruption and national leadership are crucial in the success of our business ventures,” she said.
Ms Sijeny also noted that issues such as corruption need to be tackled as they have hampered county programmes such as devolution.
Women in Business Chairperson Mary Muthoni said more women should be involved in decision and policy making and urged them to show interest in national politics through platforms such as those for public participation.
“Many issues pass us because we do not show as much interest as we should. We need to be familiar with what is going on in the country. If we do not give our opinions, on the BBI and other matters, bad policies will be created and will eventually hurt our businesses and livelihoods,” she said.