Comprehension of the New Constitution

A gender analysis in Yatta and the greater Machakos area conducted recently has shown that many local people do not understand the new constitution. The survey carried out by  Machakos  Hurinet Yatta Paralegal Network showed that on average men had a better understanding of the constitution than women. Data indicated that more than half of both the male and female respondents interviewed could not comprehend the constitution.

There were also significant differences as to the exact levels of understanding in both genders. Of the men interviewed only over a quarter understood most parts of the constitution which is much higher when compared to a quarter of the women interviewed. Regardless of their understanding most of the residents are hopeful that the new constitution will change their lives positively with majority of the respondents agreeing so. Over a quarter thought it would impact negatively on their lives and small fraction did not know what to expect with the enactment and implementation of the new dispensation. A community member from Matuu Ward and Ikombe said: “The Yatta Sub County would be more accountable  to the citizenry especially with the knowledge that it is possible to recall MPS.” “To me it is a bit difficult to benefit because Kenyans are led on proposals but implementation is poor. Kenya has been reborn through the new document but Kenyans are still the same. It will be important for leaders to accept and change what is in their hearts especially if they had no intension of bringing change since 1963,” said a youth leader from Christian Impact Mission (CIM).“ It will affect people positively only if it’s implemented because it has been sometime since promulgation and still no noticeable change around.” said a church priest, Machakos  County. Less than a quarter of the respondents mentioned gender inequality as the major issue facing women in almost all the sub counties of Machakos.

Other issues were illiteracy and unemployment which affected their decision making although this would be resolved through empowerment. “Women in most parts of the sub counties travel long distances in search of clean water and the situation is made worse during the drought when poverty and diseases are also affecting them,” said a community member from Katangi ward Kyua zones. Over a quarter of the respondents noted that early marriage is a major issue facing girls in the area. Insufficient education was also mentioned as another big challenge many young girls are involved. “They get married but staying together is a problem and after 2 or 3 years they are separated leaving the burden of the children to their parents. The government should emphasize  on  protecting  young  girls until they are educated and mature enough to get into marriage,” a member of Yatta paralegal stated. Unemployment, drug and substance abuse are the major issues affecting boys within Machakos Sub County, Yatta zone. Other issues mentioned were lack of education, peer pressure and insecurity crime.

Drug  abuse  was  attributed to lack of employment. “Unemployed youth are idle especially those from Masinga and Yatta sub counties    engaging    mostly in miraa chewing and sand harvesting. This also ex- poses them to misuse by the politicians because they would like to use the money politicians give to satisfy their addiction,” said a resident from Kithimani ward. “The youth do not have work so they resort to stealing to get money to buy alcohol. The government should try to open factories in rural areas like for packing sand and stone cutting in places like Kyasioni, Kisiiki, Kambi Mawe and Katangi which can be a partnership between the county government and national government,”  said a women leader from Ikombe ward.

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Catherine Kamatu
Author: Catherine Kamatu
Communications Officer

KHRC Repository