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Women Speak Out

Friday 7 March 2008, by Women’s Coalition

Women’s Coalition on Peace Memorandum to The National Dialogue & Reconciliation Committee’s Eminent Persons Serena Hotel, Nairobi March 1, 2008

Your Excellency Kofi Annan
Your Excellency Graça Machel
Your Excellency Benjamin Mkapa

We congratulate you, the Eminent Persons and the mediation teams and their principals on the breakthrough achieved with regards to Agenda Item Number 3 of the Kenya National Dialogue on Reconciliation: the “Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government”. We thank you for the immense work that has been undertaken by yourselves in the past five weeks in Kenya. The Women’s Coalition for Sustainable Peace, are aware that women and children have experienced the brunt of the post-electoral violence that has occurred in Kenya since 30th December, 2007.

We commend the work of the Panel of Eminent Persons, which marks a watershed and milestone in the history of Africa. The African peoples represented through the African Union which mandated the Panel of Eminent Persons, stood together and refused to allow Kenya to become another failed state. We are humbled by the generosity of the international community represented through the UN, AU, EU, UK, US and others. The immediate impact of the resolution of Agenda Item 3 has already been felt as you may have observed in the reactions of ordinary Kenyans as they began to release the anxiety which they have lived with for the past two months. Yesterday (29th February, 2008), for the first time in two months, Kenyans were able to walk again in their beloved Uhuru Park a clear sign of the return of hope.

The speeches of the principals His Excellency Mwai Kibaki and Honourable Raila Odinga, were reassuring to the Kenyan people. We trust that they will uphold the promises and commitments that they made. We as citizens will be holding them accountable. Given the leadership demonstrated by the Kenya 2 National Dialogue on Reconciliation it behoves the Kenyan people to guard, sustain, uphold and nurture the new and fragile return to peace.

Kenya is now embarking on a reconstruction. Some of the key factors that precipitated and exacerbated the Kenyan post-electoral crisis were the lack of a sound foundation. We believe that the following are some of the necessary elements of a vibrant, prosperous, just and peaceful state: inclusion, equality, integrity, justice, transparency, accountability, professionalism, tolerance and strong institutions that respect, can sustain and protect these values

The Women’s Coalition recognises that ensuring the sustainability of the agreements reached is dependent on the vigilance of Kenyan citizens. To this end, Kenyan women believe the following are imperative:

1. Accountability and monitoring mechanisms for the agreements made to date namely:

 The disbanding and demobilisation of all illegal armed and militia groups

 The holding of joint rallies to promote peace and tranquillity

 The impartial effective and expeditious investigation into all cases of crime and police brutality and use of excessive force

 Protection and assistance for internally displaced persons especially women and the safe return to their homes and places of work

 The establishment of a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission

 The establishment of an Independent Review Commission to investigate all aspects of the 2007 Elections

 The Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government and its implementing mechanism the National Accord and Reconciliation Act [2008]

2. Implementing mechanisms for the agreements made.

Participation mechanisms that will ensure that all citizens own, are aware of, accountable for and participate in the implementation of the agreements made. Recognising that the “Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government” is a contract between the Kenyan people and will 3 constitute the foundation of the future Kenyan nation it is particularly important that the citizens participate in and are fully informed of the processes. Kenya has a legacy of secrecy, with regards to its governance mechanisms and systems, the “Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government” presents an opportunity to break with this past and create a true culture of constitutionalism and participatory democracy.

3. Gender parity and equality: As women we are also particularly concerned about Kenya’s legacy of inequality – especially gender inequality. The majority of Kenya’s poor are women. Kenya’s Constitution still does not grant women full citizenship and legalises gender based discrimination – women are therefore under-represented in all of the country’s decision-making institutions. The country has a high incidence of gender based violence and it has been observed during the post-electoral crisis that one of its manifestations has been an increase in sexual and gender based violence.

Given this legacy of deeply entrenched gender inequality, it is therefore imperative that there be mechanisms for the inclusion and participation of women in and at all decision-making levels and processes. It is therefore imperative that the team drafting the National Accord and Reconciliation Act [2008] include women and make provision for women’s participation and representation in all processes.

Women are therefore concerned that they are represented and participate in:

 The formation of the new cabinet, senior positions in the public service and at all other levels of representation in ALL public institutions, decision making mechanisms, political parties, technical and advisory bodies.

 The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

 The Independent Review Commission on the Conduct of the 2007 Elections

 All implementation mechanisms of the “Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government” and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act [2008]

 Addressing the subject matter of Agenda Item 4 – “Long-term Issues and Solutions” which is intended to address the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict in Kenya (namely constitutional reform, judicial reform, land ownership and reform, institutional reform, poverty, inequality).

4. The special condition of internally displaced women: We wish to bring to the attention of the Kenya National Dialogue on Reconciliation, that many of the internally displaced persons are women and children. Given the gender and cultural biases in land ownership practises, most of the women who had been culturally displaced from their own homes and had sought refuge in urban areas away are now in double-jeopardy and require special and urgent measures to settle them.

5. Women peace builders and peacemakers: Women have always been historically engaged in peace processes. Many women were on the forefront in this crisis providing humanitarian support and have been part of the peace-building process. This expertise has been engaged in our own situation and we commend the role of all the Kenyan women who have chosen to and remained committed to working for a peaceful resolution of the Kenyan crisis at all levels. We recommend that role of these women be acknowledged and appreciated at all levels.

6. Benchmarks, measurable outcomes and timeframes for the achievement of key agreements. There is need to develop a monitoring framework for the agreements that incorporates key benchmarks, measurable outcomes and timeframes for the achievement of the key agreements.

In conclusion, we as the women of Kenya will continue engaging with our Parliament as the organ with the first implementing responsibility and urge them to be instructed and guided by the values and principles identified upon by you. We will also continue engaging at all other levels to play whatever role we can to ensure that all the agreements are kept.

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