Remarks by Tina Dooley-Jones at the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) induction workshop

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
USAID Kenya and East Africa Mission Director, Tina Dooley-Jones giving remarks during the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) induction workshop
USAID Kenya and East Africa Mission Director, Tina Dooley-Jones giving remarks during the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) induction workshop
USAID/Irene Angwenyi

Good morning

I am pleased to be here today. Congratulations members of the 12th parliament on your election and nomination to serve the people of Kenya. This is something to be proud of -- public service is a great honor and responsibility. At USAID, we have been pleased to partner with Kenya Women Parliamentary Association -- KEWOPA -- an organization committed to empowering women to reach their political potential, no matter which party they belong too. Women’s participation, after all, is not a partisan issue.

USAID is committed to supporting democratization that fully engages women in political processes, leadership and decision-making positions. And this is not only to benefit women. It has been shown that, when women’s share of seats in political bodies is greater than 30 percent, countries are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic. As we discuss laying the foundation for what it takes for women to be effective legislators, we can bear in mind that what is good for both genders is, indeed, good for whole country.

As part of our overall support for the 2017 Kenya elections, we provided substantial assistance to strengthen women’s leadership in the political process. Part of that effort went to the activities of UN Women, the National Democratic Institute and KEWOPA to conduct a series of training and mentorship programs that prepared over 5,000 women with the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to enable them to compete in the recently concluded elections. While not all the women who made up the list of 5,000 were elected , this support helped to grow the cadre of trained women leaders.

Women made significant gains in Kenya’s 2017 General Elections, winning more seats than in 2013.  For the first time, Bomet, Kitui, and Kirinyaga counties have women governors! Isiolo, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties have women senators. We also saw progress in assemblies, with more women being elected in both the national and county assemblies.

Despite the increase in women legislators, the two-thirds gender rule has not been realized. It is by filling non-elective political posts and by being active participants in local politics and political parties that women will develop the skills, networks, contacts and influence to become candidates, win elections and fulfill the mandate of gender representation in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya.

Through the commitment and hard work of KEWOPA, members of the 12th Parliament can devote the necessary time and resources required to create inclusive and accountable public policies that provide an enabling environment for women leaders to flourish.

While one cannot ignore the guidance and requirements from the national leadership of your political parties, I urge you to look to your local constituency as your guide for decision making. Satisfying their interests, and formulating laws and policies that respond to their needs, will serve as the basis to be re-elected and expand your support for advancement in your political careers.

And as you do so, USAID will continue to partner with elected and appointed women leaders to enable them to demonstrate their skills and value in leadership. Looking around the room today, I see women who are prepared to lead effectively and to serve the citizens who they represent.

Thank you!

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