To tackle the historic marginalization of women in Kenya, the 2010 Constitution introduced reforms on the gender principle, the quota system, and decentralization to promote gender equality. Decentralization formed a localized political system that unlocked leadership positions to previously underprivileged sets of people like women in all the forty-seven devolved units. Worthy of note is that the elections of 2013 and 2017 had the highest number of women in Kenyan history both in the legislature and the executive branch; however, most government institutions did not attain the one-third gender rule, hence violating the Constitution. Achievement of gender equality in Kenya has been difficult despite efforts of the government to promote women’s participation in politics through various policy and legal frameworks due to the prevailing standards of societal norms, financial capability, political parties’ structures, and gendered violence that have not essentially been changed by these reforms. This study draws on desk research to scrutinize both qualitative and quantitative data on the socio-political and economic factors that have contributed to the status quo in the Kenyan political landscape despite numerous efforts by the government to enhance gender equality, and subsequently maps out the persistent structural hindrances to women’s inclusion in politics. The study concludes that the political goodwill of a country is a major contributor to women’s inclusion in politics. Further, since political parties are the main conduits for women candidates to emerge, there must be critical reflection about the political parties’ power dynamics. There should also be concerted efforts by both the state and other stakeholders to fully implement the statutory instruments that support gender equality.

Author Biography

Ms. Kenyatta, Gloria Nyambura is a Ph.D. Student in Political Science at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and a research fellow at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute in Freiburg that focuses on the Global South. She is the Deputy Clerk of Bomet County Assembly, a devolved legislature in Kenya. She holds a master’s degree in Rural Sociology and Community Development from the University of Nairobi, and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies–Community Development from Kenyatta University, Kenya. Her areas of interest include gender equity, citizen engagement, political participation, devolved governance, public policy, and community development. Her email address is kenyattagloria@yahoo.com.