According to a2zgov, Kenya is reforming its democracy. But for democracy to grow strong and stable, it requires a showdown with corruption and with cultural norms that keep girls and women out of influence.
Population: 48,397,527 inhabitants (2018)
Population below the national poverty line: 36.1 (2016)
Reading and writing skills: 78% (2015)
Life expectancy: Men: 63.1 years, Women: 66.1 years (2018)
GDP per capita (2016) : $ 3.4 (number 185 out of 230 countries)
Location measured by prosperity and development: 142 out of 189 countries (Human Development Index 2018)
President: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president (since 2013)
Sources: CIA World Fact Book and UN (Human Development Index)
Kenya is at a crossroads, in the midst of deep poverty and rapid economic development.
The country is the largest and most advanced economy in East Africa and an important ally of the West in the fight against terrorism and piracy. Yet the challenges are massive. About 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, youth unemployment is soaring, climate change is plaguing the rural population, and troubled neighbors such as Somalia and South Sudan are sending large numbers of refugees across the border, creating the risk of terrorism.
At the same time, the relatively young democracy is still finding its feet to stand on. Corruption is widespread. The election in 2007 ended in violent unrest that cost up to 1,200 people their lives while the election in 2013 was relatively peaceful. In 2017, the election had to go around on suspicion of election fraud.
In 2010, Kenya got a new ambitious constitution with reforms of the political system, land rights and a whole new decentralization policy, which was groundbreaking for local democracy. Among other things, it was decided that a maximum of two thirds of one gender should be represented in parliament and all other official decision-making bodies.
The reforms provide new opportunities. But it requires the population to reach out for influence. It has not been possible to increase the number of women in parliament to one third. And the election in 2017 showed that there are still markedly sharp vessels in the political system. For example, one of those responsible for the election, Christopher Chege Musando, who was tasked with keeping an eye on election fraud, was killed about a week before the election.
WOMEN AT THE CENTER OF POWER
Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke especially supports young people and women in taking part in the political process – among other things through courses at our education center Global Platform in Nairobi. Thus, several young female candidates in the August 2017 election have passed our platform. Interfaith Cooperation and ActionAid Kenya also work with local organizations to educate women in knowing their political and social rights and taking part in political life. This is not least to ensure their access to water, health, education and sustainable earning opportunities. For example, a group of citizens close to Mombasa have achieved concrete improvements in the Mtongwe Health Clinic in terms of access to clean water and electricity after systematically collecting data and tirelessly presenting it to local decision makers.
To create a better connection between those in power and the population, we have introduced civic forums that create a connection between groups in civil society and the government’s local and regional bodies. Local partners play a bigger role, especially the strong women’s organizations we work with.
LIVE WITH THE CLIMATE
Women are also at the heart of our efforts to tackle climate change, leading to prolonged periods of drought . Local women’s groups are in charge of distributing emergency aid in crisis situations because they know the most needy and fragile people and know how the food is best used and distributed. During the drought in 2016 and 2017, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke has helped more than 100,000 people to re-establish water sources, distributed food to the weakest and initiated food programs in schools.
Kenya is a country that has the potential to become an economically and democratically stable country that attracts other countries in the region. But it requires new generations to take an active part in democracy and hold those in power accountable.
Sauti Ya Wanawake
Pambazuko La Wanawake Magharibi
Women’s Empowerment Link
ActionAids Youth Network Activista:
Works especially with marginalized youth in eastern Kenya, where there has been ethnic unrest and violence, and in slums in Nairobi and Mombasa with high unemployment.