Why I am against affirmative action for 50 Kenyan women MPs

Kenya is contemplating having affirmative action for 50 women to join parliament and Martha Karua has even suggested that this be constitutionalised.

This is a developing thought but I now know I am against it totally. This is why in a nutshell:

  • It is demeaning. It makes nonesense of the achievements women like Caroline Mutoko (Kiss FM), Ruth Wilcock (a Kenyan who owns a Hotel in SA), Charity Ngilu (self made politician), Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher (who by the way was against this business) and the many other women who are successful by merit. They worked hard and people will ridicule and lower their achievement to being “given”.
  • It may lower quality standards of MPs even lower. The fact is, just because a person is a woman, they are not necessarily above board or qualified to be MP. No discussion is being had about the quality of woman is nominated for the MP positions and again, Just because you are a woman doesn’t make you suitable.
  • There’s more. Tomorrow.

Prepare your claws.


  1. Sabana

    Ai, Al Kags. This time you have haribu’d.

    Affirmative Action is a necessary corrective action for the situation in which women in Kenya and in Many African Countries find themselves. It will help more women get into parliament this time.

    Although, I have to brace myself as a woman who is of her own merits, for the derogatory stuff that is bound to arise.

    I am looking forward to the end of that thought Al Kags. Then I will claw you. LOL

  2. I’m with you on this one. I don’t see why women need freebies to get into parliament. They should run a campaign and win it. It would make more sense to me if there was a kitty being prepared to help women campaign for seats in parliament, given that they haven’t always been the bread winners and could need financial resources. That kinda kitty could have a lifespan of 10 years by whch time all should be well and balanced and cost to kenyans would be 2 election kitty amounts. I’m sure that amount would be much less than the cost of 50 additional MPS to parliament each at half a million shilings a month.

    I speak as a very capable woman who hates freebies. We are not incapable! And this kind of situation demeans our abilities. They want to be in parliament, they should camapaign. Plus who makes the decision as to which 50 women become reps? It’s room for corruption. And we don’t need that! And any worthwhile man could make decisions that positively affects all kenyans male and female. Plus don’t we already ahve women in parliament? Are they supernatural? Because if not, it can already be done and there isn’t such a great need for expensive freebies.


    The problem with the MP Affirmative Action proposal is not that it’s demeaning (and I disagree with this, BTW. Nothing wrong with a helping hand…as long as you use your achievements once you get there to do some good.) or that it lowers standards (I disagree with this also. See arguments about qualifications below). It’s because it is operating as a quota. Having that ’50 or die’ number is what’s the problem. Why can’t they establish certain criteria that parties must meet vis-a-vis their parliamentary candidates? If they include educational qualifications, civic achievements, etc., they may well get the women candidates they need. Or better yet, require every party that has 5 or more seats in the soon-to-be elected parliament to nominate one woman parliamentarian who meets the Affirmative Action standards (civic achievements, educational qualifications, and what-have-you). And if a party has more than 50 seats, require them to nominate at least 2 MPs. And before y’all start complaining about their salaries…well, cut down the number of ministers (especially those getting fat behind their desks on account of having nothing to do all day).

    That 50 women number does nothing but aggravate our already chauvinistic Kenyan electorate. Presenting an imperative won’t achieve anything. We tried it with Moi in the 90’s and it didn’t work…he dodged the topic and started yapping about the Beijing Conference and the Resolutions that dealt with same sex unions and gay rights.

    Affirmative Action is good…when it’s not a quota, and has a life-span. Kenya can take care of the quota issue by taking out that ridiculous 50 women thing. And as for a lifespan, try it out for one electoral term, and see if the women nominee MPs are achieving anything. If not, scrap and try another system!

    BTW…I’m female.

  4. Vee

    I am a woman. I ask: why vote for someone because of their gender and not what they can do for the country? I am against it.

  5. anonymous

    there are already laws that discriminate against women so why not start by amending this first. – and this legislation should be killed it will only benefit the elites – look at MYWO all the officials are the wives of so and so — if we have to do this then why not 50 sits for teh youth 50 for the blind and deaf. I think most countries have senates that provide a way to mitigate differences in society. But our selfish MPs wouldnt want any oversight.

  6. Clearing 15

    It’s not freebies! If the Affirmative Action program was given a lifespan, and the elected MPs had to meet certain qualifications at the door – and then had to meet certain performance qualifications, it has a fighting chance.
    The problem with Kenyan women is that they generally want to assert all that feminist crap of ‘I’m woman! I can do it!’ without realizing that we come from a patriachal society. Which is why we didn’t recognize Wangari for what she really was…until she got a Nobel and then everyone came running to kiss her feet and declare her the best thing since sliced mkate.
    Affirmative Action is used to ‘right the wrongs of the past.’ Women in Kenya have been oppressed purely on gender grounds. We can’t see ourselves voting in a woman president because 1) our menfolk just won’t vote for her 2) we’ll always come up with a reason why she doesn’t make the cut, and 3) we are patriachal. Affirmative action will place women who are just as (if not more) qualified than the men in those positions, and with time the populace will see through their performance that women are just as competent. It’s no freebie…just a recognition of the fact that women (when given a chance/opening/slot) can perform just as well as (if not better than) men.

  7. There’s a certain kink in your argument. “We can’t see ourselves voting in a woman president because 1) our menfolk just won’t vote for her 2) we’ll always come up with a reason why she doesn’t make the cut, and 3) we are patriachal.”

    The only woman who has attempted to run for the presidency is Charity Ngilu and no one- but no one has got the presidency on their first run or second. Its not because she was a woman. Even in an older (not necessarily better democracy), USA, Hillary is the first woman to run and frankly, I’m for Hillary – not Obama or anyone else.

    When you look at the MPs, how many women in Kenya’s history have run and not got in – because they were women? Because they were women, I say NONE. Linah Chebii Kilimo was the first woman to run in her community – Kalenjin Rift Valley is the most traditional, patriachal society especially being that most of it was extremely extremely rural. She got in.

    Nyiva Mwendwa, Agnes Ndetei, Julia Ojiambo, Martha Karua ran and won. My position is this: do not expect to get into parliament on the basis of the fact that you are a woman, youth, man, disabled etc.

    And if All those women in history have been able to get elected – without affirmative action – including in Liberia, who elected a woman president straight out of war (a firmly patriachal society coming out of a firmly boyish mess). She campaigned appealed to the audience to say that she will bring them out of warand she will crack down on rebels and won.

    Affirmative action as corrective action with a time limit i can understand. But first women really have to get off their comfort zones and fight it out there – like they now have to. You want to check just how many women have put themselves in the running in the up coming elections and you will realise that there are not fifty who are running as at today.

    If there are no 50 women in the running what makes us think we have failed with regard to getting them elected?

  8. Totally against it.

    I could probably name half the ‘proposed’ Women MP – who are currently well known activists and associates of Ministers & MP’s – and how would that improve anything? Let them get elected (nominated) on theri own merits, not free loaded into that already expensive parliament

  9. quickdraw

    Isn’t it interesting how when (I should probably say, if) one woman makes it (or a handful) its used to prove that all women can? If one woman makes Prime Minister, all women in the world can too. If three can make MP or Minister, then all women in Kenya can too? That’s shallow thinking Al, and here’s why.

    In almost all instances, women who make it to the top of or in a man’s game (and politics is certainly that if nothing else) do so as exceptions rather than the norm. They get ahead not as women, but as exceptions to the lot that is occupied by all other women. Women like Nyiva Mwendwa, Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi, Chandrika Kamaratunga etc owe their political ascent to the top to the fact that their fathers, husbands or other such patriach in their families paved the way for them in societies where family dynasties are preferred over other unknowns for top political positions.

    To paraphrase something that Condolezza Rice said: Clearly, in this country/world [gender] still matters, and so if you are [female], you have by definition had different experiences. [Affirmative Action] is not an award for what has happened to you, but an expectation of what you might do.

  10. On the contrary, Quick Draw. The glass cieling may still be there – but I am convinced havng moved around in this country a while that it is quite thin nw. If one can then others can – politics is one thing but how do you explain the women who have made it big in their careers and lifestyles – the Caroline Mutokos and Jane Delories (she founded and runs Research Solutions one of the largest market research companies in Africa) and Wanjiku Mugane?

    They made it because of their own Chutzpa and such denigration is what affirmative action suggests and encourages. If one can break the business cieling the political cieling s no different

    But again, I ask. How many women ran or a running and lost BECAUSE they were women in the last 10 years?

  11. quickdraw

    I haven’t been back to the blog since I posted my comment but you’ve written something in your lastest post that needs reply:

    “But again, I ask. How many women ran or a running and lost BECAUSE they were women in the last 10 years?”

    Unless we’re talking about token, frivolous gains (which I don’t imagine we are since we’re talking political positions), a lot of the women who ran and lost did so SPECIFICALLY because they were women.

    Here’s the key difference between the lived experiences of men and women on all important fronts, Al. If you’re a guy, whatever else you have going AGAINST you, being male in this world is never one of them. If you’re female on the other hand, whatever else you might have going FOR you, being female is never one of those things. This is also true of race relations …. if you’re white in this world, whatever else you have going AGAINST you, being white is never one of them. If you’re black on the other hand, whatever else you might have going FOR you, being black is never one of those things.

    (Try replacing female/race with economic status too and see that will hold true as well). That’s to say that that these conditions ARE barriers, articifial ones yes, but barriers to their bearers nonetheless. Now, we can argue about Affrimative Action until the cows come home (and I do not necessary believe its the panacea in itself), but lets admit that womens lot may have improved a fair deal in the last few decades, but lets not pretend we’re at par with the menfolk … and its my opinion that Politics is the biggest hurdle of all.

  12. ybpwkenya

    I appreciate your argument. Kenyans will vote anyone in as long as they prove themselves. It is only that the campaign trail is so murky many women feel they can’t hack

  13. Hmmm… I like to show you my great run I have a good fresh joke for you! Frankenstein: What is it like to be in a bottle for 5,000 years? Genie: It’s a JARRING experience.

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