Women Will Spearhead Kenya’s Constitutional Commitment to Equality

On this International Women’s Day 2012, allow me to start off by briefly discussing the dynamics of social change. Throughout history, it has always been the oppressed groups within any society that have been at the forefront of the struggle for equality. For instance, during the Civil Rights Movement, African American leaders were on the front lines of the struggle for social change because they knew first-hand what inequality and discrimination was all about. Within the human rights struggle in Kenya, the women’s movement has perhaps been a well organised and formidable force resulting in part to the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010. It is because of women’s own past experiences of prejudice and injustice that they continue to push for social change and reforms.

Equality is a difficult and deeply controversial ideal. At its most basic and abstract, equality is a moral idea that people who are similarly situated in relevant ways should be treated similarly. Therefore, in the context of the gender equality struggle, women and men must have full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms which includes the right to equal opportunities in all areas of life. So, the struggle for ‘gender equality’ as we know is not only about women but rather about both the male and female genders. However the struggle for equality and equity between the two genders is led predominantly by women precisely because they have endured decades of prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their gender. Therefore women understand the importance of ‘equality’ both as a social ideal and more importantly as a legally binding requirement that is the hallmark of Kenya’s constitutional dawn.

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5 Questions on International Women’s Day

Here are the five questions:

1. Instead of asking whether Kenya is ready for a woman president or not, shouldnt we be asking what kind of woman presidential candidate do we want? Do we want Martha Karua? or perhaps do we prefer someone else?

2. Why havent any Kenyan female politicians come out openly to support the only female presidential candidate running? Is iCon
right in saying that women hate to see other women succeed?

3. Do other women have deep-seated questions about ‘Feminism’ or is it just DR Crew member, Davina?

4. Will there ever be a time in Kenya where we have a First Lady who is ambitious and driven enough to break the patriarchal
cycle of political dynasties by vying for public office in her own right a la Janet Museveni or Hillary Clinton?

5. When will Kenya finally come up with a way of formally recognising all the heroines of this country?
Isn’t Wangari Maathai proof enough that successful women in Kenya are not rewarded or recognised by their own government for their national and international accomplishments?

Any takers? Let’s talk.