Back in 31st October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 which focuses on women, peace and security. As per the resolution, it is only when institutions are democratic and representative of all groups of society including men and women that stable peace and national prosperity will be achieved. It also noted that enhancing women’s participation is essential to building peace and democracy and the equality of women and men. As such elections provide the best possible opportunity to ensure women’s voices are heard, their concerns are addressed, and their potential contributions to peace and democracy are maximized.

According to the resolution, the United Nation recognizes the need to protect and promote the rights of women to participate in the electoral process. This is however not limited to the right to vote but also includes freedom of expression, assembly and association, freedom to take part in the conduct of public affairs and freedom to hold public offices in all levels of government. As such women’s equal participation is therefore essential to the conduct of democratic elections. This basically means that an election fails to comply with international obligations and standards unless the opportunity for full and equal participation by women is provided.

In 2010, Kenyans voted in favor of a new constitution that endorsed considerable changes to the country’s political, legal and institutional landscape. This included the introduction of a quota system that was intended to limit the domination of political offices by one gender basically the male gender. Known as the Gender Principle, Article 27(8) of the constitution limits the representation of the majority gender to no more than two-thirds. The Gender Rule applies to the national—senate and national assembly—and county governments, and includes elective, appointive, nominated and official positions. This rule was meant to make the elective offices an inclusive affair thus giving women who had so far been marginalized an opportunity to take part in the electoral process other than being just voters.

However, despite the introduction of this rule the Gender rule women aspirants in the 2013 elections continued to face many challenges accessing leadership positions. Neither the National Assembly nor the Senate have met the two-thirds gender rule. Most county governments only reached the threshold through the nomination rather than the election of women. In the EAC, Kenya has the least women representation in parliament with only 21 per cent, compared with Rwanda that has the highest representation in the region at 64 per cent. The National Assembly and Senate have a total of 86 women parliamentarians, of which 16 are elected, five nominated, 18 nominated senators and 47 Women Representatives.

On March 29th this year, High Court judge John Mativo ruled that the National Assembly must pass the two-thirds gender law within two months or risk having the house dissolved prematurely by any petitioner. The National Assembly took their break in preparation for the General Elections next week without passing the law and the next parliament is at the risk of being declared illegal if they don’t act fast. Had the law been passed before the elections, it would have meant more women in parliament. All in all, when this law is passed it will be a huge win for women.