Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2006


In Copyright


This paper examines Kenyan's women's struggle to gain new legal authority for gender equality and women's empowerment in the Kenya Constitutional Review process. Specifically it examines the efforts of the campaign to "safeguard the gains of women in the Draft Constitution," a campaign launched by a coalition of four civil society organizations in Kenya after the release of a new Draft constitution in 2002. Its focus is the 2002 Draft, the Draft's relationship to the current Kenyan Constitution and to recent constitutional proposals, from a gender perspective.

The constitutional review process is part of a larger movement to democratize the Kenyan post-colonial state and one in which women have struggled to find a voice. In the absence of women's solidarity across their differences, differences exacerbated by the nature of post-colonial state, the democracy movement threatens to leave women behind in a legal and social web of beliefs and practices that subordinate them.

The paper examines the history of the Kenyan women's movement, the events that led up to the formation of the campaign to "safeguard the gains of women in the Draft constitution," and the campaign's fight for gender equality within the constitution. It then analyzes the conflicts the campaign faced that magnified the differences among women and threatened to undermine their solidarity around the idea of gender equality. These conflicts included differences across religion in the form of disputes about the retention of Kadhi's courts in the constitution, disputes across ethnicity around constitutional schemes to devolve government and decentralize executive authority, and differences across class in terms of electoral representation given the apparent divide between rural and urban women.

Publication Title

William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law

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