BBI: How First Amendment could benefit Kenyan women [Explainer]

Pulse Live breaks down the BBI Bill

BBI graphic provided by the BBI Secretariat (Twitter)

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act, 2020, popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill has been the subject of political discussions in the country since 2018.

The document born out of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has undergone various edits and is now at advanced stages toward a referendum.

A recent informal survey conducted by the Pulse Live production team revealed that though temperatures are rising over the document, most Kenyans have not read the document for themselves.

The BBI Secretariat team has been tasked with availing a copy of the Act to Kenyans before they are required to vote on it, however, with some constrained by internet availability it has not been actualized.

Pulse Live will be breaking down the document in a series of articles, having already covered the proposed amendment on Article 18 of Chapter Three of the Constitution which deals with Citizenship.

One of the controversial elements of the BBI Bill has been eliminating the 47 "County Woman Representative" positions from the National Assembly.

Two-thirds Gender Rule

The BBI Bill has recommended several clauses to be inserted in the Constitution of Kenya which will enforce the affirmative "two-thirds gender rule" and ensure representation of women in government.

  1. BBI seeks to amend the composition of the Senate; voters in all 47 counties will be required to elect 2 Senators - one male and one female - to represent them at the upper House.
  2. Political Parties will be required to have not more than two-thirds of one gender vying for elective seats in an election. The IEBC has also been mandated to ensure all political parties adhere to the rule.
  3. BBI has proposed two designated slots for female persons living with disability at the National Assembly.
  4. Of the 12 nominated Member of National Assembly slots for each political party BBI proposes:- one female youth representative and overall, not more than two-thirds of one gender.
  5. Should BBI pass into law, every candidate seeking to vie for a gubernatorial seat will be required to nominate a person of the opposite gender for running mate.
  6. BBI proposes establishing a Youth Commission which will have a total of six members, three of whom MUST be women.
  7. One mandatory slot has also been created in the Commission on Revenue Allocation for a woman. Governors will be required to jointly nominate the woman.

A caveat inserted as the proposed "Article 97 (5)," however, reads: "Clauses (1) (ca) and (4) lapse after the next three general elections from the commencement date.”

Clause (1) (ca) reads: "...the number of special seats members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of Parliament are of the same gender.”


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