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Why gender parity in law is still a mirage

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, August 27th, 2020
Constitution of Kenya. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

There is no question about it. Women, not just in Kenya, but the world over, have come a long way.

There is no denying the fact that in many cases, women today are giving as much as they get.

But the gender nirvana envisaged in the 2010 Constitution is still a mirage. As far as women empowerment goes, what you see is not always what you get.

In many countries, women still have a long way to go before they can claim to be comprehensively at par with men.

Even in the developed world, gender inequality is still a huge issue.

The women equality crusade seems to be have hit a plateau. Indeed, an emerging school of thought is of the view that the current model of women empowerment is backfiring and  clawing back the gains made  over the years. 

Let us take the Kenyan case study. How have women-led institutions  performed compared to those managed by men?

Have they recorded higher profits, or even exemplary levels of corporate governance? 

In the political sphere, have constituencies and wards represented by women members of parliament and county assembly, respectively, experienced more development?

In government and public service in general, have women state officers and civil servants excelled in terms of integrity and performance?

The new thinking declares that popular claims usually peddled that women leadership is essentially different or superior from that of men may be more myth than fact.

It advocates for a new paradigm shift in the way society has positioned women in the social, economic and political strata.

Accordingly, it states that pitting women against men in an apparent competition for opportunities and resources is counterproductive.

In fact, the repercussions of the status quo are clearly evident in the negative energy pervading our homes.

When a woman stands up to a man in a physical sense, it changes the nature of the relationship from one of partnership to that of antagonism. 

Think about it this way, in almost all governments and corporations around the world, men form the largest number of decision makers.

Now, if these men are not convinced that women can make equal partners in their boards, we definitely have a problem. 

For instance, if a man in a position of power has a strained relationship with his spouse, it would be foolhardy to expect him to fight passionately for women empowerment.

Forget the constitutional dictates. Without goodwill, the stalled push towards two-thirds majority one-gender edict in elective and public offices enacted in the Kenya Constitution 2010 is an indicator of the challenges ahead.

May be the question we should be asking ourselves is, what do women need, rather than, what do women want?

The difference being that “need” is a more fundamental and sustainable approach, while “want” points to gratification of desires that may not add value towards women empowerment.

A woman’s best and most effective weapons are domiciled in her God-given femininity. By this I mean the virtues of compassion, patience, love, kindness, persuasion and nurturing.

A woman who perfects the use of soft skills as opposed to aggression can move a mountain.

Sports and Culture Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is also in this class. During her tenure, she traversed the globe with diplomatic ease and poise, representing the president and the country’s interests at the highest global levels. 

Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and Second Lady Rachel Ruto are also in this league of genuine women leaders.

They do not seek to challenge or outdo men, but strive to change society in their own unique way, using their talents without outreaching themselves.   — The writer is s communication expert and public policy analyst—[email protected]

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