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Gender and Governance Programme
Posted on 10 Feb 2010 by:
Caucus for Women's Leadership [NGO]

Location: Nairobi, Districts Kenya

Topic: Gender Equality

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The representation of women in decision-making organs in Kenyan parliament and local authorities is still very low (under 10%), four decades after independence. To address this issue, the Caucus is one of the organizations implementing the famous four-year Gender and Governance Programme in Kenya.

The Gender and Governance Programme, commonly referred to as GGP was developed as a follow-up to the Engendering Political Process Programme, implemented in 2002, to support women to participate actively in 2002 general elections.

The GGP was developed by different stakeholders comprising of women leaders and women centred civil society organisations and supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and development partners such as the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Department for International Development (DFID) among others.
The Caucus┐ twin focus in this programme is Gender Equality and Women┐s participation in local governance as well as Gender Equality and women┐s empowerment in political party processes. In preparing for the 2007 general elections, the Caucus trained 105 community resource persons, both men and women whose mandate included mobilizing support for women┐s leadership in the run up to the elections.
Methodology used
Using the Women┐s Regional Assemblies{WRAs} outreaches for the implementation of GGP, extensive civic education was conducted around election issues and the need to support credible women┐s leadership. The success of this programme culminated in the triumphant victory of 2 women parliamentarians.

At the local level, history was recorded in Bungoma District - Western Kenya, where for the first time, 10 women secured local authority positions. 5 are elected and 5 are nominated. Far East, in Makueni District, Eastern Kenya, although no woman was elected, the Women┐s Regional Assembly leadership lobbied intensively and as a result, 6 women were nominated. The total number of women councillors in the Women┐s Regional Assembly coverage is 48. This figure is only for the 29 Districts where the Caucus has established Women┐s Regional Assemblies.
Techniques and strategies used
The WRAs┐ strategies include mobilization, information exchange, lobbying and advocacy as well as monitoring key political and socio-economic processes at the grassroots levels. The WRAs are grassroots structures used as platforms for national politics. In order to propel women leaders in the right direction, the caucus holds regular capacity building workshops for the WRAs┐ leadership, who consequently cascade these skills to their respective members.

Implementation methodologies
Besides undergoing training opportunities at a national level, WRAs┐ representatives have participated in international conferences such as the Commission on the Status of Women, {CSW} in New York. These women have demonstrated increased interraction between themselves and the Provincial Administrators, a marked prescence in District Development Committees, such as; Community Development Funds, Roads Board, Local Authorities Transfer Funds and the Constistuency AIDS/HIV Control Committee {contituency ACC}.
What is innovative about this approach/tool/project?
The unique concept of the Women┐s Regional Assemblies was borrowed from Rwanda, following a visit by the Caucus┐ chair Dr. Phoebe Asiyo. Like the Rwanda ┐Miji Kumi┐ (ten households), the Women┐s Regional Assemblies have an established base at the grassroots level, beginning from the village to the district level.

WRAs┐ common characteristics exhibit the spirit of collectivism, voluntarism, shared vision and networking amongst all its members at the grassroots and national level, the WRAs in Kenya are the brainchild of the Caucus for Women┐s Leadership and do not receive financial support from the central or local governments, but rather seek to compliment these existing structures. The overall objective of the Women┐s Regional Assemblies is to build the capacity of women at the local level, so as to respond effectively to the political, social economic, cultural and environmental challenges that affect their sustainable livelihoods.

The WRAs work revolves around several thematic areas. These include:
1. Good governance and women┐s participation in decision making.
2. Economic empowerment and poverty reduction.
3. HIV/AIDS control and advocacy against negative cultural practices.

Evidence of results and impact
The WRA structure has evolved into an effective platform for propelling women into leadership. During the 2007 general elections, the Caucus supported 17 women candidates through equiping a team of 7 community mobilizers for each candidate, including men and women drawn from the assembly with mobilization skills to mobilize support for their leader. All these candidates had demonstrated ably that women┐s leadership was ripe and more promising. Of the two who sailed into parliament, one of them used a WRA as her platform for elections campaign.

The late minister Hon Lorna Laboso MP, often confessed that this time round, the Bureti Women┐s Regional assembly was the vehicle that took her to parliament. She broke down cultural barriers and gave millions of women hope. The Bureti WRA had been launched on 11th July 2006 and the late Hon Lorna Laboso was unanimously elected as its district convener. One year later, she triumphantly used this platform to emerge the elected member of parliament in her constituency. Her tenure in public office was abruptly shortened through a tragic airplane crash in June 2008. Women in Kenya continue to walk a long treacherous journey towards leadership but they remain convinced that though the journey be long, arrival is assured.
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