The National Gender and Equality Commission

The National Gender and Equality Commission is an independent constitutional Commission. It was set up through an Act of Parliament in August 2011.

It succeeded the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission according to Article 59 of the Constitution.

The functions of the National Gender and Equality Commission in Kenya derive from:

  • Articles 10, 27, 43, 59, and Chapter Fifteen of the Constitution; and
  • Section 8 of the National Gender and Equality Commission Act of 2011.

Article 10 provides for the national values and principles of governance. They include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, and non-discrimination.

Specifically, Article 27 of the Constitution sets out the principle of equality and freedom from discrimination. It states that every person is equal before the law and has a right to equal protection and benefit under the law.

The main objectives of the National Gender and Equality Commission are to promote gender equality and freedom from discrimination.

Membership of National Gender and Equality Commission

The members of the National Gender and Equality Commission are a chairperson and four other members.

A person should be qualified for appointment as the chairperson of the Commission if the person—

  • has the knowledge and at least fifteen years experience in matters relating to human rights and gender;
  • holds a degree from a university recognised in Kenya; and
  • meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on leadership and integrity).

A person should be qualified for appointment as a member of the Commission if the person—

  • holds a degree from a university recognised in Kenya;
  • has the knowledge and at least ten years’ experience in matters relating to any of the following fields—
    • law;
    • public administration;
    • economics;
    • gender and social development;
    • human rights;
    • management; or
    • social sciences;
  • has had a distinguished career in their respective fields; and
  • meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on leadership and integrity).

A person should not be qualified for appointment as the chairperson or a member if such person—

  • is a member of Parliament or a County Assembly;
  • is a member of the governing body of a political party;
  • is a member of a local authority;
  • is an undischarged bankrupt; or
  • has been removed from office for contravening the provisions of the Constitution or any other law.

The Functions of the National Gender and Equality Commission

The functions of the National Gender and Equality Commission are to-

  • promote gender equality and freedom from discrimination in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution;
  • monitor, facilitate, and advise on the integration of the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination in all national and county policies, laws, and administrative regulations in all public and private institutions;
  • act as the principal organ of the State in ensuring compliance with all treaties and conventions ratified by Kenya relating to issues of equality and freedom from discrimination and relating to special interest groups including minorities and marginalized persons, women, persons with disabilities, and children;
  • coordinate and facilitate mainstreaming of issues of gender, persons with disabilities, and other marginalised groups in the national development and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof;
  • monitor, facilitate, and advise on the development of affirmative action implementation policies as contemplated in the Constitution;
  • investigate on its own initiative or on the basis of complaints, any matter in respect of any violations of the principle of equality and freedom from discrimination and make recommendations for the  improvement of the functioning of the institutions concerned;
  • work with other relevant institutions in the development of standards for the implementation of policies for the progressive realization of the economic and social rights specified in Article 43 of the Constitution and other written laws;
  • coordinate and advise on public education programmes for the creation of a culture of respect for the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination;
  • conduct and coordinate research activities on matters relating to equality and freedom from discrimination as contemplated under Article 27 of the Constitution;
  • receive and evaluate annual reports on progress made by public institutions and other sectors on compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements on the implementation of the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination;
  • work with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on Administrative Justice and other related institutions to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and complementarity in their activities and to establish mechanisms for referrals and collaboration in the protection and promotion of rights related to the principle of equality and freedom from discrimination;
  • prepare and submit annual reports to Parliament on the status of implementation of its obligations under the National Gender and Equality Commission Act 2011;
  • conduct audits of the status of special interest groups including minorities, marginalized groups, persons with disabilities, women, youth and children;
  • establish, consistent with data protection legislation, databases on issues relating to equality and freedom from discrimination for different affected interest groups and produce periodic reports for national, regional and international reporting on progress in the realization of equality and freedom from discrimination for these interest groups;
  • perform such other functions as the National Gender and Equality Commission may consider necessary for the promotion of the principle of equality and freedom from discrimination; and
  • perform such other functions as the Constitution and any other written law may prescribe.

The functions of the National Gender and Equality Commission are in Section 8 of the National Gender and Equality Commission Act.

For more about the National Gender and Equality Commission, see the NGEC Act and visit their website at ngeckenya.org.

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George Githinji

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