Improving Community Security - Jamii Thabiti Program

Development Partner: Coffey International

Time Frame: 18 Months (2016-2017)

Project Brief:

The Jamii Thabiti Project is funded by UK aid from the UK government, through Coffey International. In this project, Coffey International has collaborated with the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) to work across eight counties and at national level to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Kenyans benefit from services which address gender-based violence. The main objective of the initiative by CCGD is to support county governments enact good laws that shall be effective at countering Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in specific county contexts. More specific objectives are to:

  1. Assess the current status of enactment of laws on VAWG in the 8 Coffey target counties
  2. Develop prototype law(s) that can be adopted in different county contexts to address VAWG
  3. Validate the draft law(s) in a colloquium that shall draw in other relevant experiences and enrich the draft and strategies.
  4. Lobby county governments to draft and pass bills that protect women and girls from VAWG
  5. Monitor progress on drafting, adoption and passing of legislation and policies on VAWG by the target counties

Background

Counties were created by the 2010 constitution of Kenya as the units of devolved government. The powers are provided in Articles 191 and 192, and in the fourth schedule of the Constitution of Kenya and the County Governments Act of 2012. As of 2013 general elections, there are 47 counties. County governments are responsible for county legislation (outlined in article 185 of the Constitution of Kenya) and executive functions (outlined in article 183).A county assembly may make any laws that are necessary or, incidental to, the effective performance of the functions and exercise of the powers of the county government.

County Assemblies have to make laws within the constitutional and statutory provisions of the laws of Kenya meaning they may not make laws that are contrary to the constitution or to national laws as set out in the statutes. County assemblies therefore face various challenges when making laws not least the requirement that they proceed from an understanding of existing laws in Kenya as they set to address local county challenges that require legislation. There is an additional challenge with regard to laws affecting women and girls, that has to do with the fact that most of them have been formulated or reviewed in the past 5 years and are not well known or understood across the board. Such laws have also tended to purposively address gender and sex discrimination embedded in the most patriarchal cultures customs traditions and cultures of Kenya in different shades and concentrations. The temptation at the county assembly level is to reverse anti-discrimination gains made at national   level and entrench local cultures and practices that are still popular with a significant constituency of county members.

County governments are also faced with unresolved gender issues requiring legal and policy interventions in general but also specific to VAWG in different degrees of intensity depending on the cultural context -so they may need to legislate targeting specific local dimensions of discrimination. For instance Female Genital Mutilation is popularly practiced in some counties against existing laws that are rather general and relatively difficult to apply locally making it necessary to enact more specific county laws that are implementable within local contexts.

County governments are also facing considerable pressure to legislate but being relatively new, they are faced with problems that have to do with legal drafting with respect to county assembly bills and moving the bills through the county law making protocols. During   debate on bills in county assemblies proposing MCAs need support to keep the content relevant to the purpose the laws are to serve and ensure that they are not watered down through amendments on the floor. Despite these challenges being apparent, not much has been done by government to prepare county assemblies to make good laws and even less to laws that impact on VAWG. Most training has been on enactment of procedural motions (laws) to enable counties legitimize their operations and receive budgetary allocations from the National government to fund their expenditure.

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