I support affirmative action for women; the poor downtrodden ones, not the rich domineering elites

Preferential affirmative action patronizes women, and other historically disadvantaged groups, by presuming that they cannot succeed on their own. Preferential affirmative action does , at best, very little, or at worst, nothing to advance parity.


I fully agree, in principal, with Kenya’s new constitutional requirement that no single gender, male or female, should form more than two thirds in terms of representation in any elected body in Kenya. But how do we implement this? Force 33% of Kenya to have only female contestants for public office? Fill a third of parliament with nominated women and make a third of all appointments to public offices exclusive to women?

It has been said many times that the majority of voters are women; the question that keeps coming up is why can’t women simply vote in more women? Often the argument has been that it comes down to control of the election narrative by whoever has more money (usually men) and past prejudices that women have had forced down their psyche while they grew up which predisposes them to vote against their own interests, a cry for civil education and a change in cultural indoctrination.

But having gone over the reasons given, I see a common thread and it is that the real disadvantaged and underrepresented people are those that have little education and scarce financial resources. When it comes to groups that require affirmative action, from persons with disability, minorities, etc, they almost always are poorer and less educated than the rest of society. It is poverty that provides a divide between those that wield power and those that are kept under the heel of the boot.

Granted women, due to past practices of inequality in a patriarchal society, often fall in the category of the poor and less educated, the question is whether any move to apportion seats based on gender would really benefit those whom it should or if it will simply be distributed among the wealthy, educated, elite uberfeminists that appear on TV every evening pretending to be fighting for that woman who walks 20Km everyday looking for water and doesn’t have the reading skills to analyze CDF allocations.

Would a poor man win a seat against a female tycoon because the only redeeming quality he has are his cojones?

On the flipside, does a female peasant, the ones they used to refer to as “District Focus” have any chance against the rich uberfeminists we see on our TV screens every evening supposedly carrying the torch for all the downtrodden women in Kenya?

If you ask me, we are fighting the wrong war; hoarding of power is not limited to gender, it’s class warfare


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  1. #1 by Mugane on August 22, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    This is a splendind argument. Never quite looked at it that way, but I totally agree.
    Only problem is how deep do you go, aren’t poor men also disadvantaged (their interests not represented by the rich ones in parliament) thus it follows affirmative action is needed for them too?

    • #2 by Wes on August 22, 2011 - 1:30 pm

      Exactly what I was getting to: the real disadvantage is poverty and to some extent lack of proper education. The women demanding for 80 of the nomination slots to be a preserve of women, who do they have in mind? certainly not Wanjiku who is fighting jigger infestation in Muranga. At the end of the day it is the poverty stricken, men and women, alike getting the shaft.

  2. #3 by Mwaura Njoroge (@mtwita) on August 22, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    I never quite looked at it that way.

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