Legislative Influence of Women Parliamentarians In Kenya’s National Assembly Of The 11th Parliament 2013 2017
Miruka, Simon Okumba
MetadataShow full item record
responsive laws. The proportion of women in Kenya’s National Assembly increased from less than 10% in 2007 to 18.9% in 2013 due to introduction of gender quotas. It was therefore important to assess whether and how women parliamentarians maximised on their numbers to influence legislation in the immediate post-quotas National Assembly. The objectives of the study were to: identify the legislative agenda of women parliamentarians in Kenya’s National Assembly (2013 -2017); evaluate the methods the women parliamentarians used to pursue their legislative agenda; examine challenges faced in pursuing the legislative agenda; and outline the implications of measures proposed by respondents to improve the influence of women parliamentarians in Kenya’s National Assembly. This was a descriptive study which addressed the following gaps from past studies on the National Assembly: scant documentation and analysis of women’s legislative agenda; limited documentation of methods used by women to influence legislation; emphasis of challenges faced by women parliamentarians outside rather than inside the legislature; and little focus on implications of various measures to improve women’s legislative influence. The study used the Critical Mass Theory to analyse how women parliamentarians did their legislative work as a minority exposed to dominant behaviours of the majority men. It also applied liberal feminism to contextualise the efforts of women parliamentarians as quests to eradicate gender-based discrimination and cast the dominant behaviours of men as results of a mindset of entitlement. The study population consisted of the 68 women in the National Assembly. Respondents were identified through stratified and purposive sampling. Data was collected using interview schedules and a content analysis guide. The quality of data was assured through consistent administration of the same tool to similar categories of respondents, interviewing individuals separately, triangulation of data from different sources and reliance on actual quotations. All primary data is anonymised. Findings are narrated with quantitative data presented in tables and graphs. The main study findings were that women: successfully supported legislation on gender equality and social welfare issues; failed on their quest for a law to increase their numbers in the National Assembly; and secured two affirmative funds. To pursue the agenda, they relied on a variety of methods with varying levels of success. The main challenge they faced was resistance from male colleagues. To remedy the situation, respondents proposed: diplomatic presentation of women’s agenda; alliance building; training; and gender mainstreaming by the National Assembly. The major conclusions of the study are that: although a number of the women’s pursuits were achieved, this cannot be solely attributed to their increased numbers; the methods used by women were not intrinsically weak but were compromised by patriarchal mindsets of men; the quotas in the Constitution were tokenistic and did not substantially interrupt male domination in the legislature; gender quotas undermine the credibility of beneficiaries and should not be regarded as a panacea; and the various proposals floated by respondents need to fulfil certain preconditions in order to be effective. The study recommends: concentration of women in the most influential National Assembly committees; development and implementation of a gender policy by the National Assembly; pressure for compliance with the Constitution; training; mentorship; and strategic alliances.