New rules lock women reps out of Sh2bn affirmative action fund

Women representatives have been kicked out of committees running the Sh2 billion affirmative action fund, with freshly amended regulations removing all provisions that have been contested in court.

In the initial regulations issued in March last year, County Women Representatives were part of a county committee that decides the projects to be undertaken. However, fresh regulations published by the Treasury have stopped their inclusion.

The affirmative action fund is an initiative established last year to finance projects targeted at marginalised groups like women, orphans, persons living with disabilities and drug addicts among others.

These include projects like giving loans to women groups, funding art, music and sports projects to develop talent, building shelters for vulnerable groups like the victims of gender based violence, female genital mutilation and early, child and forced marriages, among others.

The fund was designed along the lines of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and was meant to allow the women representatives to be in charge of the kitty like their elected counterparts.

But this was in August challenged in court by civil society organisation, The Institute for Social Accountability (Tisa) who argued that just like CDF, the fund was unconstitutional as it violated separation of functions.

The new regulations published by Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich have also removed all the devolved functions from a list of activities that the affirmative action fund can undertake.

“Projects under these Regulations shall only relate to functions of the national government under the Constitution,” Mr Rotich said.

Initially, the fund was allowed to undertake activities like construction of market sheds, market lights and trade promotions which are county functions.

These have been scrapped and replaced with establishment of rehabilitation and counselling centres for the control of drugs and substance abuse.
Other aspects of the fund have been left intact.

These include the provision of loans to women, services for survivors of gender based violence, female genital mutilation and early, child and forced marriages through the provision of rescue centres, shelters, and legal aid centres.