Devolved governance is introducing greater participation, accountability, and transparency in local governance and economic development, and providing an empowering voice to the historically large portion of marginalised populations in Kenya, according to the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC).
“We note that County governance is going to be the major driver of the Kenya political and economic development considering that crucial sectors of economy and social/public services are under the jurisdiction of the County government,” says Ndung’u Wainaina, the Executive Director of ICPC.
However, for such to be achieved the body suggests that gender equality is central to representation, participation, accountability, responsiveness and transparency in nascent devolved governance in Kenya. These in turn hold the key to better policies and services that will begin to normalize women, youth and other minority groups in equal participation in policy and decision making.
“The key to effective political representation and meaningful participation, especially women, youth and other minority groups, in a democracy at work is to engage all citizens, so that they feel that they are part of the society and governance processes,” adds Wainaina.
In a statement, ICPC is called upon all Governors and County Assemblies to ensure no gender occupies less than a third of all key top positions in both County Executive and County Assembly, giving priority to the young people and other minority groups.
ICPC is rallying women, youth and other vulnerable groups in the Counties countrywide to rise up and hold public campaigns, processions and file petitions to the Governors and County Assembly Speakers to demand bigger role in top positions at the highest table of decision and policy making in the County.
“Women have a greater sense of social issues and the well-being and welfare of their communities. Their priorities are more likely to centre on housing, safety, clean water, sanitation, education, social implications of policies, health services, poverty alleviation and community development. Therefore, they have to be adequately represented and participate the highest policy and decision making level of the county,” read the statement in part.
ICPC notes that women and youth will focus on change, preferring a more democratic and transparent approach to governance in an effort to move away from the adversarial and, in some cases, corrupt image of politics. The trend shows that women and young people are likely to make a change through participation and their leadership styles, increasing transparency and less corruption.
“It should be emphasised that the end goal is not merely increasing the number of women and youth in policy and decision-making positions, but rather enabling women and youth to meaningfully participate and bring to the discussion how to address issues affecting them directly and tackling inequalities and changing social norms, as well as effectively influence and contribute to government policy and decision-making towards the achievement of gender equality, inclusive growth and development,” says Wainaina.
ICPC encouraged the County governments to act as best model in labour practices, be at frontline of tackling inequalities, discrimination and violent practices against women, take action immediately to improve women and youth representation and participation in all key administrative and policy making county institutions and ensure equal access to economic and resources.
As it stands, there are only three women governors in Kenya out of four who contested for the seats in the 47 counties. They include Joyce Laboso of Bomet, Charity Ngilu of Kitui and Ann Waiguru of Kirinyaga. Wavinya Ndeti was unable to oust Dr Alfred Mutua in the Machakos gubernatorial race. This number is worrying to the effect of achieving gender rule in the counties.