Kenya is emblematic of the paradox of gender parity around the world. Legislatively, Kenya has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world based on principles of equality, justice and inclusion. There’s an institutional framework for the realization of human rights and equality that provides for affirmative action in favour of sidelined groups to ensure inclusive governance. A gender mainstreaming strategy has been adopted by Kenya’s 2013-2016 government. This strategy is supposed to ensure that all sector plans, programmes and budgets will be gender responsive at national and county levels.
Despite these gains, actual transformation of gender relations is painfully slow. Women in Kenya continue to suffer the brunt of poverty, illiteracy and exclusion from decision making. And men’s voices are largely missing from the equality dialogue. There seems to be political reluctance and resistance to reforming the system of governance in order to increase representation of women in public life. We need to think more critically, sharply and progressively about what needs to be done to increase the presence and voices of women in the public conversation on what makes us Kenya.
This set of policy papers was conceptualised in conjunction with the African Women’s Studies Center, affiliated to the University of Nairobi to provide gendered analysis and commentary from feminist thinkers in Kenya on topical regional, national and local level subjects. We want to start this new, sharper and more focused conversations on the barriers and opportunities to increased women’s participation in electoral politics in Kenya. We called them ‘The Walls We Can’t See’ because we believe that the general public does not perhaps see the impact of some of the unarticulated issues that keep women from electoral politics.
We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we hope to start a more productive conversation. Engage with us. Download and share these papers with your colleagues. Talk to us on social media - our hashtag for this topic is #ElectWomen.