New Kenya Constitution: Didn’t forget the “ladies”

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Written by Adrien Wing

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote her husband John Quincy that he and the other men considering a declaration of  independence  should “remember the ladies.” Of course, we know that the men of that era did not do so in the declaration or subsequent constitution, and we remain without gender equality in our governing document up until today. The east African nation Kenya now joins the list of modern era countries that have not forgotten gender equality on paper, even though there are numerous deeply rooted patriarchal practices such as polygamy and female genital surgery, among others.

The new constitution has a very detailed equality clause:

In article 27 (3), it states: “Women and men have the right to equal treatment including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.”

Section (4) says: “The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.”   The South African constitution even includes “sexual orientation” in its equality provision similar to Kenyan article 27(4).  The Kenyan constitution also mandates designated seats for women in the parliament, a modern era mechanism many countries have adopted, which I discussed in my August 10 blog.

While I would rather be a woman living in the United States, do you think that we shall ever see such constitutional clauses in America?