THE ROLE OF GENDER QUOTAS IN ENHANCING WOMEN POLITICAL REPRESENTATION IN KENYA, FROM EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO EQUALITY OF PRESENCE: A CASE OF GARISSA COUNTY

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In spite of the fact that women constitute more than half the population and have a better voter turnout, the role, scope and quality of women’s participation in Kenyan politics has consistently been lower than that of men since independence in 1963. In fact, women form 52% of the Kenyan population and comprise 55% of all voters who turn out in polling stations countrywide. Women have in the last few decades achieved more in the economic scope rising high to management positions and holding successful businesses. Yet as the study illuminated this has not significantly shifted the graph of the number and quality of women’s participation in elective politics. This study sought out to investigate the role and scope of gender quotas in political parties in enhancing women’s participation in politics at the legislative level. Therefore, this study questions the hypothesis that gender quotas have functioned as vehicles for increasing women’s participation in the political process, and specifically, in enhancing the number and quality of women’s participation at the legislative level. Through one-on-one interviews guided by  a  questionnaire  with  a  purposive  sample  of  former  and  current  women  Members  of Parliament, Members of the County Assembly and members of Political Parties, The knowledge and information collected in this study suggests that, indeed, political party quotas play a critical role  in  enhancing  women’s  knowledge,  skills  and attitudes  in  participating  and  penetrating decision  making  particularly  on  the  political  front.  It  was  established  that  for  women, participation in the political parties is a necessary means of not only gaining sufficient control over decision-making at governmental levels but also of achieving gender parity. The study found out that this has not been the case due to various reasons; lack of awareness among the women, historical and cultural reasons engendered in the patriarchal society, lack of political commitment to implement affirmative action to propel women in leadership positions on the part of the ruling elite (men), ethnicity and political patronage. It is the recommendation of this study that the government should implement the policies that have been formulated to enhance gender parity in every sector of the society

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