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New Women Body Launched In Kenya

PANA, 10 August 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - A new women's lobby group has been created in Kenya barely a month after the demise of the once powerful Kenya Women Political Caucus.

The lobby group has been created by one of the two splinter groups, now calling itself the Kenya Women's Political Network.

Its chairperson is a top Kenyan opposition legislator, Charity Kaluki Ngilu, whom an 11-member board assists.

A university don and head of the Collaborative Centre for Gender and Democracy, Dr. Wanjjiku Kabira, was elected the co-chair of the of the new body.

Ngilu, a presidential aspirant who came fourth in the 1997 general elections, confirmed the existence of the new lobby, saying the split occurred because the chairperson of the original Caucus, Phoebe Asiyo, had abandoned it. Kabira confirmed that the elitist group had deemed it necessary to form a rival organisation to advance the course for which the Caucus was formed.

Asiyo, however, insists that the Caucus was "alive," explaining that the housing of the body, which is rotational, had only moved from Kabira's Collaborative Centre for Gender and Democracy to the National Commission on the Status of Women.

She said those who had moved to the Network were free to return to the Caucus.

Asiyo cautioned that it would be impossible to advance women's course of action as long as a bottom up approach to issues was neglected.

Wrangling within the Caucus came to the fore when an undated letter, circulated to Kenyan media houses, indicated that Asiyo had resigned as the chairperson and had been replaced by Ngilu.

Insiders allege that the split occurred after disagreements, which emerged after the Caucus received a donation of two million US dollars.

Kabira vehemently denies the claim, saying that the problem arose from the decision by Asiyo to "walk out of the organisation."

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