Federation of Women Lawyers, National Adolescent and Youth Organization, and International Commission of Jurists-Kenya, delivered a joint statement on behalf of 34 Kenya based non-governmental organizations.
Federation of Women Lawyers said that gender equality remained formal and not substantive, and was often recognized in law but not implemented in practice. The Committee should recommend that Kenya repeal any law articles which perpetuated discrimination against women, and deliberately plan for full implementation of the family laws in accordance with the Constitution. Family matters affecting Muslim women were governed by the Sharia law, but Kenya still did not have a codified Muslim family law which was an impediment to access to justice for women.
A representative of National Adolescent and Youth Organization said that women represented over 51 per cent of the population and 47 per cent of registered voters in Kenya but this numerical strength was not reflected in the representation of women in public life in general and political leadership in particular. The Constitution provided for temporary special measures to increase the representation of women, but the State had failed to enact the legislation that gave effect to the requirement that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective and appointive public bodies should be of the same gender. The Committee should urge Kenya to implement a law to actualize the two-thirds gender principle in the 2017 National Assembly and Senate.
A speaker for International Commission of Jurists-Kenya drew attention to maternal mortality rates in Kenya, where 16 women died every day due to pregnancy and child birth complications. Women were exposed to obstetric fistulae due to early marriage, female genital mutilation and lack of maternal health services. The Committee should urge Kenya to increase its health care budget to facilitate accessible, affordable and quality reproductive healthcare services for all women in the country. The Government should also address high rates of violence against women, as 45 per cent of women in Kenya had experienced violence and 21 per cent were victims of sexual violence, especially in informal settlements.
CLEAR urged the Committee to ask the delegation from Kenya about the pilot national legal aid project in six regions and in particular about types of legal aid provided and the eligibility criteria. With regard to national machinery for the advancement of women, the Committee should inquire about the existing framework for collecting sex disaggregated data, and recommend that all government agencies, including law enforcement, collected data disaggregated by sex, age, ethnicity and disability pertaining to all areas covered by the Convention.