Leadership as a function of gender biases and elitism is one that elicits debates from time to time. Many progressing and progressed nations, businesses and systems have by and large attempted to craft their own means and ways of striking a balance to achieve the best performing mix for their tastes.
A gender balancing chemistry has been on the table for many years and an attempt to achieve such has always been cooked, tried and the recipe improved. The question of chauvinism and feminism has been an additive that may sometimes adds too much taste or depriving the constitutional palatable food. Can leadership be a function of gender dominion? Does gender carry in itself genes of pragmatic and successful leadership?
In the modern world, women have risen above the traditional stereotypical mandates and led governments and institutions. This has been christened the breaking of glass ceiling. From heads of governments like Germany, England, Liberia and many more. In institutions like IMF, American speaker of the congress and an array of corporate businesses.
Gender balance in Kenya
Some African countries have attempted to address the gender balancing equation a case in place is Kenya with it’s one third gender rule and Rwanda with its robust female leadership within its ranks. So, why are there fewer women in elective positions? An analysis of the 2017 elections in Kenya cites economic , cultural and political reasons as some of the deeply entrenched reasons why women are disadvantaged https://www.ndi.org/publications/gender-analysis-2017-kenya-general-elections . How have private institutions managed to have in their ranks women in decision making positions? Some institutions have managed to strike a gender balance within their ranks, according to Standard Chartered Bank , they state that they purposely and deliberately went out of their way to encourage and ensure that women are considered for positions within their ranks . They also provide environment that encourage and motivate women to work and live while working for them such as offering 20 weeks paid maternity leave among other benefits . The gender balance is also reflected in the top decision making organ in the bank’s Kenyan business unit according to their published names of board of directors .
Globally, leadership has become a factor of capability notwithstanding gender or age , Finland recently elected a female Prime who is also among the world’s youngest leaders . In Kenya , women in leadership is fast taking shape with University of Nairobi electing a female Students Union chairperson , a first within it’s ranks and this clearly shows that leadership is fast becoming a pattern of capability , courage and grit . The younger generation is slowly moving away from the stereotypical male chauvinism and this could be the fruits of a long but painstaking journey on the leadership and gender. According to a local daily , Anne Mwangi Mvurya weathered the storm that had plagued her fellow female aspirants who attempted the feat in vain .
Let’s put Kenya into focus where the constitution of Kenya 2010 , Elections Act 2011 , The Election Law (Amendment ) ACT 2017 , The Elections Law (Amendment) ACT 2016 , Political Parties of ACT 2011 , Elections (General) Regulations 2012 requires particular office holders to have certain level of education as a prerequisite to vie for the positions https://www.iebc.or.ke/uploads/resources/D2CtRkduPk.pdf . The promulgation of the new constitution greatly attempted to address integrity and ethical values which a leader ought to have or are considered as minimum requirements for a public office qualification. The elephantine questions would be, does the level of education enhance good performance and auditable governance in public offices? According to Shitemi Khamadi , a seasoned journalist on governance , education helps the elected leaders to participate in matters development within their elected positions .
The Kenyan political system has had its fair share of challenges with gender balancing as enshrined in the constitution with the third gender rule becoming a mirage especially in the national assembly or simply say the elective positions. The question would be, is it a legal assertion or a civic persuasion that encourages a fair representation within the ranks of political leadership? Does gender have a significant contribution towards credible performance and good governance especially in the public offices? A number of gubernatorial holders have been hounded to courts to answer allegations of corruption, abuse of offices and misuse of public resources. Situations which have denied the public critical funds which could go along way in enhancing the delivery of services promptly.
Majority of national leaders who didn’t have qualifications required for certain offices rushed to acquire such certifications or their equivalent to enable them vie for their desired seats of choice especially on the second general elections after the promulgation of the constitution . This achieved it’s mission as enshrined in the constitution but was it a means to an end? Has Kenya improved in her governance and integrity leadership? Going by the number of public officers being hauled to the courts for incredible and gigantic corruption and abuse of office related cases one would ask themselves where the weakest link would be.
Back to the gender balancing. The number of female governors rose from zero to three in the last general elections held in 2017. The national assembly fell hard on this run, the senate also barely met its side of expectation. A CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT ) BILL 2018 was published to enforce the two third gender bill in both The National Assembly and The Senate .
It can be said that Good Leadership , Education and Gender balancing are of great importance in the development of an inclusiveness , democracy and governance of a nation especially Kenya where cases of rampant corruption and abuse of offices have become nearly the norm .
What journalists should do :
1. Find out what the Constitution says about gender balancing and why implementing it is a challenge in Kenya.
2. Find out the gender balance within the work place in Kenya both in public and corporate world. Highlight companies and organisations that have implemented gender balance as examples to learn from.
3.Inform citizens the importance of gender balancing and promotion of the same in every facet of the economy and social well being of the nation.
4.Document the journey of women who have successfully clinched leadership positions. Also share the challenges that some have had to go through and still did not manage.
By Vitalis Rugie