Kenya’s cabinet has decided to reserve 80 new parliamentary seats for women in a bid to meet the 2010 constitutional requirement that one-third of parliament be female, The Star newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The new constitution increases the number of parliamentary seats from 210 to 290. These were to be geographical but the latest proposal is to give them to women nominated by political parties in proportion to each party’s strength in parliament.
“There was no other way of addressing the two-thirds gender rule demanded by the constitution. We tried all available formulae and the best was to give all these seats to women,” a minister told the newspaper.
Only 9.8 per cent of Kenya’s MPs are female, the lowest rate in the region.
The bill will be debated when parliament reopens next month.
Last month, Kenya’s cabinet rejected the constitutional provision, saying it would be “technically impossible” to implement and set up a taskforce to look into the matter.
This taskforce has prepared the bill, giving nominated women the new seats.