By Brian Malika

On 27th August 2019, Kenya's current constitution was promulgated and this marked a new beginning for Kenyans with hopes that the national cake would be shared on a fair basis for all.   

Previously,  Kenya had been using a constitution that had been established by the British Colonial Government in 1963 and many people felt the constitution that founded Kenya's self-rule didn't answer to the needs of everyone in society - specifically  Kenyan women, disabled people, the youth, minority tribes, old people with no pension plan and even rural-based citizens.

Thankfully, on 27th August 2010, Kenyans went to the ballot boxes and passed a new constitution that represented all the faces of the country. Most importantly, the voice of women, girls, disabled people, youth, minority tribes and the elderly had been consulted in a meaningful way during the entire process of drafting the constitution. Hence their voice was well heard. 

It is important to note that Kenya's current constitution, which was voted on 27th August 2019, was well praised by world leaders like Hillary Clinton, as being human rights-based and progressive to the needs of the people.   

However, nine years later and still the fruits of gender equality in health, education, policy-making and employment that were promised in Kenya's new constitution are not being felt at grassroots levels.   

This can be seen with the recent research that shows 48 girls between 15-24 years old are getting new HIV infections every day, to more girls not progressing to secondary education as compared to boys or even the 6000 to 8000 of Kenyan mothers who die during child labour every year.   

All I can say is that the struggle for gender equality in Kenya is still a long way off from being won, notwithstanding having a constitution in place that was famed to be a panacea for social justice for all, including women and girls.  

However, if Kenya has a progressive and human rights-based constitution, that sought the meaningful participation of women and girls across the country during the drafting process, then why are the same women still left behind just like the old days under the previous constitution?  

Well, the answer goes back to the implementation framework in the sense that even though Kenya's constitution is progressive and human rights-based, there must still be the invocations of constitutional clauses to guide the different public service departments towards ensuring that there is gender equality.  

The desired change cannot just happen, but rather it has to be triggered. And that is why we have the CIDP process which is an avenue for Kenyan women and girls to exercise their right in ensuring that relevant government departments maintain gender parity and exercise caution to the needs of all genders in their mandates.

The CIDP process constitutionally happens in all the 47 counties of Kenya by giving the citizens a chance to decide on how the annual county development funds should be spent on projects.  

Through the  CIDP, women and girls, and in particular, those who live in rural among other hard to reach parts of Kenya, as well as those who have a disability, can form a network that will be present in all planning CIDP sessions in their county. 

Once at the session in large numbers through grassroots-based networks, vulnerable Kenya women and girls will be able to negotiate for meaningful funding to be allocated towards issues and projects that they feel need to be improved.   

With bigger numbers of women and girls at the CIDP sessions across the 47 counties of Kenya, it would be easier to move motions through the public voice towards enhancing gender equality.  

Personally, as a changemaker who is passionate about gender equality, I have been involved in training 240 girls and young women from across Kakamega County, Vihiga County, Bungoma County and Busia County which are in western Kenya on policy advocacy as an important tool to enhance gender equality through the CIDP.  

There are possibilities within Kenya's Constitution to enhance gender equality, but these possibilities have to be worked on.