Kenya

What we do

Kenya has had a multi-party system in place since 1992, and has established itself as a stable regional power and leading voice in sub-Saharan Africa. Its democracy is also well established, but tensions remain between the diverse ethnic groups, and intercommunal violence after elections in 2008 demonstrated that stability was not to be taken for granted.

Another impact of its diverse population is that political parties often forge allegiances along ethnic lines, rather than over policy positions or political ideology. This leads to polarization in the political landscape, and a predisposition for the passage of power between traditional elites, threatening the functioning of a transparent and inclusive democracy.

Helping the disparate political movements find common ground through dialogue, encouraging the participation of under-represented groups, and strengthening the functioning of democratic institutions are central to NIMD’s work in Kenya, which began in 2003.

We have collaborated with a number of partners, most recently working with Mzalendo, a Kenyan parliamentary support organization.

Strengthening Democratic Infrastructure

In 2019, NIMD entered into a partnership with Mzalendo, a Kenyan parliamentary support organization. Our collaboration focusses on increasing parliamentary transparency and openness by bringing citizens closer to their elected representatives, and bolstering the position of women and young people within parliament.

This is done through support for public participation through the Dokeza message platform, awareness raising and providing information on the performance and functioning of parliament and advocacy for parliamentary openness.

For example, NIMD supports Mzalendo’s efforts to bring MPs closer to the electorate through social media. Committee chairs and other high-ranking MPs are offered Mzalendo’s online platforms to explain their positions in specific debates, as well as showcase their daily work and some of the challenges they face. The medium is particularly effective as it gives people the chance to react ahead of a vote or parliamentary debate via the online discussion.

Women’s Political Participation

In 2010, NIMD worked with partner CMD-K as part of a broad civil society coalition to successfully lobby for a gender equality clause in Kenya’s new constitution. This clause impels the state to act on female representation, stipulating that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies can be of the same gender.

While this was a major victory for Kenyan women, fulfilling the promises of the constitution has proven difficult, and women are still heavily underrepresented in Kenyan institutions. So working towards greater representation of women in Kenya’s political landscape remains a central part of NIMD’s work in the country, with projects and research continually evolving.

Between 2014 and 2018, we ran the Respect for Women’s Political Rights programme, which aimed to challenge perceptions and negative gender stereotypes around female political leadership. One of the key approaches was working with male politicians to encourage them to challenge their own stereotypes and work collaboratively to remove gender barriers.

Our current work with Mzalendo includes the documentation and analysis of women and young MP’s contributions and attendance in parliament. This information informs the debate on women’s political participation and campaign strategies.

In 2021, NIMD teamed up with the Westminster Foundation of Democracy to produce a report on the Cost of Politics in Kenya, which highlighted how many women are excluded from entering and participating in politics because they cannot afford it.

Meet The Team

Carolina Gaita
Executive Director, Mzalendo
NIMD works with Mzalendo, a Kenyan parliamentary support organization, and its Executive Director, Carolina Gaita.
Femke Lee
Programme & Knowledge Advisor, NIMD
Femke Lee is the focal point in The Hague working with the Kenya team.

Who We Work With

Our implementing partner in Kenya is Mzalendo a non-partisan parliamentary support organization that aims to facilitate public participation in parliamentary processes through information sharing, research and networking.
NIMD’s work in Kenya is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Power of Dialogue programme. The Power of Dialogue consortium is made up of NIMD, Gorée Institute, Akina Mama wa Africa, and Centre des Études Méditerranéennes Internationales, and seeks to enhance collaboration of political and civic actors to participate in accountable political processes.