Is Affirmative Action The Solution To Disparity?


According to Wikipedia, Affirmative action or positive discrimination is the policy of providing special opportunities for, and favoring members of, a disadvantaged group who suffer from discrimination. Some of these members include the minority communities, women and other disadvantaged groups. In Kenya, the affirmative action was entrenched in the new constitution to ensure that there is gender parity in parliament representation and public appointments. The question that keeps ringing in my mind is; why should I be discriminated on the basis of my gender?

AAI fully concur with the statement that “what a man can do, a woman can do better”. Whoever coined this statement didn’t have Kenyan ladies in mind. It’s ironical that Kenyan ladies will shout this statement for anybody who cares to listen, and at the same time support women affirmative action. In the new constitution, 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.

The Kenya’s new constitutional requirement dictates 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.

From the mentioned reasons, it is clear that the real disadvantaged group is not women, but the less educated and those that have little financial muscles. Let’s take this scenario; there is a political contest between a man who has little financial muscles and a woman who is endowed financially. Between the two, who is likely to win the contest? It goes without saying that the woman will win the contest. So the question that begs the answer is; who is disadvantaged in this scenario?

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. On the flipside, does a female peasant, have any chance against the rich urban feminists we see on our TV screens every evening supposedly carrying the torch for all the downtrodden women in Kenya? So when it comes to affirmative action, gender should not be the yardstick to use. It is better to use poverty, education, and other regional groups in affirmative action other than gender. So, if what a man can do, a woman can do better, then let’s all fight it out without soliciting for favours.



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