According to CRA, If we don’t elect enough women,there’s a gender penalty.

Recently I attended a gender forum organized by Heinrich Boll Foundation and Commission on Revenue allocation (CRA) on “Determining gender equity in fiscal devolution”

CRA is the body  charged with the mandate making recommendations concerning the basis for the equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government. The distribution is both vertical( between national gvt and county government) and horizontal( between the various counties).

At the end of the day and after all the recommendations by CRA, Elected officials will be charged with the duty of legislating  and  prioritizing the specific allocation of  various monies allocated, be it in the counties or the national government. For any legislative body to meet and start discussing these allocations, it has to be constitutional.

The current constitution stipulates that not more than 2/3 of elected or nominated members of a public body should be of the same gender [Article 81(b)]. In our current set-up where both women and men elect men, we have only 9.8% women representation in politics. If the provisions of the constitution were to apply to our current situation,Parliament and the various county assemblies would be unconstitutional, and wouldn’t be able to meet and legislate on anything, leave alone monetary issues.

The constitution failed in giving the specifics on how the so called  “1/3 gender rule” was to be arrived at. The bill of amending the constitution to give effect to this article is still mired in parliamentary debates, and it’s debatable whether the bill will actually become law before vision 2030…

This exposes the country to the risk of having a constitutional crisis after the upcoming general elections, As it’s most probable that we’ll vote the same way we usually do thus ending up with fewer women than stipulated in the constitution.

To solve this constitutional  problem, the affected elective bodies (whether counties or Parliament) will have to nominate the requisite number of women before the start of any business. This is where the financial implications set in

Take a hypothetical scenario of  two counties (county A and county B), and a county is supposed to have 30 members.
County A ends up with 20 members being men and 10 being women, it’s home and dry.
County B, however,  happens to end up with all 30 members being men. Before it can meet and transact any business, it’ll need to nominate enough women to be constitutional. This county will end up having about 15 nominated women instead of the usual 10.
This is because if only 10 women are nominated, the whole  assembly will have 40 members and 10/40 is not equal to 1/3.

The extra members of county B compared to county A is what the CRA refers to as “the gender penalty”. This is because county B will end up saddled with an extra wage bill since nominated member will enjoy same emoluments as elected members.

This extra wage bill could’ve gone to other development projects and probably help more vulnerable members of the society.

The jury is still out there on who’ll will foot the bill ie  whether it’s the national government or the county government. What is clear however is that ultimately it’ll be the tax payer who’ll foot the bill.

Vote wisely, elect enough  women…    


         Heinrich Boll Foundation


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