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Kenya's Gender Bill: Battling inequality, saving the constitution

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On February 27, Kenya's national assembly once again refused to enact the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018, also known as the Gender Bill, which seeks to legislate on the constitutional requirement that neither gender should have more than two-thirds in elective positions.

The National Assembly did so by denying the bill the requisite quorum for a constitutional amendment which requires two-thirds of the members of the house to be present. So, the MPs didn't just fail to pass the bill, but they refused to show up to even allow for the possibility of its enactment.

The refusal by the National Assembly to enact the bill reflects an escalation in a constitutional conflict and has implications on the stability of the constitutional and democratic framework in Kenya.

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 in Article 27(8) of the Bill of Rights provides that: "The State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender." This provision is also reiterated in Article 81(b) on the principles of the electoral system and is commonly referred to as "the gender principle".

Since the promulgation of the current constitution in 2010, Kenya has been struggling to realise the above-mentioned provisions. The issue has been the subject of litigation for almost a decade, with the courts consistently holding that the parliament has an obligation to enact legislation to ensure that its gender composition in both elective and appointive bodies is in line with the requirements laid out in the constitution.

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Kenya gave parliament until August 27, 2015, to enact legislation to implement the provisions........

© Al Jazeera