There was an uproar by Kenya Commission on Human Rights after the just concluded police recruitment and the ongoing KDF one.
The bone of contention was that the process was flawed in that it failed to adhere to the gender rule. There were reports that about 500 female recruits were turned away at Lamu recruitment centre on the pretext that the slots were reserved for men.
There were similar cases during the police recruitment were few women were recruited despite turning up in large numbers. It was evident that the one-third gender rule was not adhered to.
Military and police work tradition can claim its existence to the warrior tradition of the yore. It involved conscription of youth cohorts between the ages of 15- 30 years to guard communities, conduct cattle raids. In the ancient civilizations, these cohorts guarded city-states and royal families.
A look into the wars fought in the last 300 years, reveals that they were mainly men-only affairs women playing the role of nurturing children and feeding warriors.
In the world over, the number of men in police and military outstrips women by far due to war dynamics. It is only in 2014 that the first two women joined America’s elite ranger force 1st Lieutenant Kristen Griest, and Captain Shaye Haver. Whether they will see combat is subject to debate.
In Kenya, we got our first woman Brigadier Fatumah Ahmed a few years ago. I can bet on my last coin that she will never see combat her duties will mostly involve logistical coordination in the comfort of some military fort.
The Geneva Convention lists women and children as non-combatants as does Rome Statute as laid out in Article 8(2) (b) (i). Targeting women and children during combat is a crime against humanity.
In an article published by the Fox News titled, “Why I don't ever want to see women in combat, on the front lines,” Dr. Keith Ablow argues that, “I can't deny that were my wife or I have to leave our children to defend this nation in hand-to-hand combat, that I would hold myself in the vilest contempt for letting my wife be the one to go. I can't deny that I would worry for my son were he to volunteer or be drafted to fight on the front lines, but that I would worry even more for my daughter.”
The contribution of women in nurturing society can never be overstated. There are regarded the world over as peacemakers due to their inherent capabilities. To see them become converted into killing machines is a travesty humanity cannot afford.
Military and police work is mostly physical given that it involves operational engagements most of the time. Although there issues to deal with gender-based violence, clerical work, and other logistical engagements, there is an adequate number of women to deal with that.
The physiology of women is different from men’s something which inhibits their capacity to perform physical tasks optimally all year round. The experiment was conducted by police service in three subsequent recruitments in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Women were about 5000 of the 27000 recruited at that time.
After posting, officer commanding stations complained of being understrength despite the high number of recruits allocated to them. They gave reasons that majority of women posted to their stations were pregnant or on maternity leave.
While we cannot deny our women the right to nurture life, the society demands to see dividends of its massive investment in security. They expect most police on beat, patrols, responding to emergencies, investigating and managing crime scenes.
In a volatile society like Kenya were policing involves dealing with cattle rustlers, terrorists and a host of other bandits there must be enough boots on the ground. Employing more women will appease elite feminists but the larger society will be shortchanged.
We do not need more women military or police officers but there are other areas they can and have outdone men. For the first time since the advent of multi-party politics, we don’t have a female presidential candidate. We are also grappling with a shortage of doctors, nurse, engineers, architects and people with middle-level skills.
Military work in Kenya involves preparing and making war. Women by virtue of them being peacemakers should strive to make peace advocating for a pacifist nation, not a bellicose one. They should form peace movements not fight for chances to join the killing sport. They should talk sense into the menfolk not cheer or compete with them in their blood sports.