The Influence of Gender Quotas on Women’s Participation in Legislative Processes in the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Kenya (2013 -2017)
This study sought to explore whether indeed the increase in number of women occasioned by Affirmative Action principles in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya has enhanced women’s political participation in the National Assembly. The specific objectives were: to analyze the levels of women parliamentarians’ participation on agenda setting and policy output in the National Assembly; to assess the effectiveness of gender quotas as a political tool for ensuring pursuance of the gender agenda in the National Assembly and to discuss constraints faced by women parliamentarians as they seek to influence policy output and enact laws. The March 4, 2013 General Elections which ushered in the 11th Parliament were considered landmark owing to the fact this it was the first General Election to incorporate affirmative action seats. As the term of the 11th Parliament came to a close, it was highly important to find out how effective gender quotas have been in achieving meaningful change for women representatives. The study was guided by Hanna Pitkin’s (1967) framework that she employed in her work “Conception of Women’s Political Representation”. The study was additionally informed by Dahlerup (1988) “Critical Mass theory”. The study made use of cross-sectional descriptive study design. The study was done with members of KEWOPA from the National Assembly of the Parliament of Kenya. The membership of the association consists of all the women Members of Parliament from all the political parties both elected and nominated. The target population of the study were the 68 KEWOPA members from the National Assembly with a sample size of 40 respondents calculated using the Yamane model. Questionnaires were used as the main data collection tool alongside key informant interviews and in-depth interviews. Validity and reliability of the instruments were measured to ensure accuracy and consistency. The study data was analysed thematically. A descriptive approach was involved where direct quotes and selected comments from informants have been used to explain the trends. Triangulation of data was done by looking into complementary and divergent opinions across the key informant interviews and in-depth interviews. The findings of the study suggest that there is still need to create and expand opportunities for women parliamentarians to enable them become more active and effective participants in the legislative processes of the National Assembly. The findings raises the question on what current efforts are being put in place by political parties and the Registrar of Political parties to ensure that the Affirmative Action. The findings are useful to assess the gains of women political representation and inform the lessons; experiences and can be harnessed to strengthen effective women’s political participation in legislature and policy making. They will contribute to informed public debate and critique on the effectiveness of women’s affirmative action for increased participation and visibility on political platforms. Finally, legislators in parliament and policy makers in government will benefit from insights into what it takes to effectively support women’s participation in legislative processes and how to leverage their numbers in parliament to the country’s advantage. Women aspirants need to be made aware of the challenges they expect to face at the National Assembly. It is also critical to raise awareness among women aspiring politicians and other members of the community to create awareness and address the stereotypes that have continued to ensure only a handful of women succeed in the legislative space. As women and women’s organisations continue to agitate for an increase in number of women legislators, they should equally work to transform the ideology of patriarchy and retrogressive institutional culture in Parliament.
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