Legal changes could break policy barriers to including people with disabilities in Kenyan politics
The inclusive participation and representation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in political parties and processes has not been fully achieved in Kenya. Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), in partnership with Demo Finland, have been working with 12 political parties and 15 disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the East African Country to change this – through the Kenya Inclusive Political Parties Programme (KIPP). The goal being to promote PWDs inclusion in politics; by ensuring that effective provisions that respond to their strategic and practical needs are in place.
Through various engagements with KIPP partners and stakeholders, it was determined that analysing and improving the available relevant bills could be a step forward towards promoting PWDs inclusion. This is especially important where the law fails to fully consider the needs of PWDs in pursuit of their political ambitions. In response to this, WFD held a two-day workshop on 18 and 19 March 2021.
Through the workshop, the participants gained an in-depth knowledge of the current legal reforms relevant to the inclusion of PWDs in politics; identified the existing gaps within laws; and they were also enabled to undertake advanced public participation initiatives. Some of the participants in the workshop included political parties, DPOs, CSOs, the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC), the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA), and the County Assembly Disability Caucus (CADICA).
The participants deliberated on the Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) Bill (Senate Bill No. 29 of 2020), Political Parties Primaries Bill (Senate Bill No. 35 of 2020) and the Political Parties Act. The local laws were compared with international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). The outcome of the two-day forum was that two memoranda were sent to two senate committees as proposed amendments to the bills.
A memorandum on the Persons with Disability (amendment) Bill was forwarded to the Kenyan Senate standing committee on labour and social welfare. The memorandum proposed an amendment to the bill that requires specifications to be made for each disability. This aims to ensure that all types of disabilities are effectively provided for. This is because, in the bill’s current form, it may exclude some people with certain kinds of disabilities.
On the other hand, the memorandum on the Political Parties Primaries Bill, 2020 was sent to the senate standing committee on justice, legal affairs, and human rights. The proposed amendment to the bill stipulates that people with disabilities be duly registered with the National Council for Persons with Disability. This would ensure avoidance of potential cases of impersonation and secure genuine representation of PWDs.
A technical working group – comprising 2 political parties, 2 DPOs and a representative of CADICA – was subsequently formed. The working group will follow-up with KEDIPA on the senate adoption of the proposals, in addition to having further robust engagements on the inclusion of PWDs.