These are the women breaking new ground in Kenya’s politics
Kenya’s Women’s Parliament is a coalition of more than 30 women’s groups, including the women’s organisations of the major political parties, to advocate for women’s issues, including the right to work, equal access to employment, and equal pay.
The Women’s Parliament in Kenya started as an offshoot of a group called the Coalition to Investigate Gender-Based Violence (CIGBV) which brought together groups working on gender equality in different spheres of society and their affiliates.
The coalition began taking shape in 2007 following a meeting between women’s groups in both the northern and southern High Courts, led by Dr. Monica Murunga. A few months earlier, Murunga had been elected as a Member of Parliament for Kisumu East, a constituency in the coastal region where the majority of the women in the High Courts were from; she had previously served as a Member of Parliament for Kakuma in the same constituency, and later as a Member of Parliament for Thika North and Nyeri.
A further meeting was held in a small coffee house in Thika North, where Murunga discussed at length with the women the reasons for the need for a Women’s Parliament in Kenya and why it was critical to have a representative body to represent the needs and concerns of the women at the grass roots level. For a short period, the Women’s Parliament comprised of only five members, but membership was growing rapidly. As a result, the decision was taken to expand the membership to include women from all sectors of society and also to include women from outside Kenya.
In 2008, the Women’s Parliament received support from the government, including a small budget from the National Youth Service. But a number of issues were emerging in the Women’s Parliament, most notably the demand for the creation of a Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC). This led to the formation of the W