International Legal Frameworks that Protect Women Rights


Since the promulgation of the Constitution 2010, Kenya now recognises international law as part of the domestic legal framework. It has ratified a number of laws to ensure that women rights have been protected and enhanced. Here are some of the international legal frameworks that Kenya is party to in relation to women rights:

Adopted by the United Nation General Assembly in 1948, the UDHR affirms individual rights including freedom of speech, belief and freedom among others.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

It is the framework upon which human rights are protected.  Chapter Four of Constitution of Kenya 2010 features the Bill of Rights, which reiterates the provisions of the UDHR.

This legal framework provides for free human beings to enjoy civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.  It also allows for the provision of remedy when there is a violation of these rights.

Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights

It is this framework that provides for the freedom for individuals to enjoy social and cultural development.

All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

It places the onus of creating an environment for realisation of this right on the state, including creating a legal framework for it.  It also provides for the freedom to create trade unions to promote individual’s social and economic interests. Additionally, it provides for protection of the family as well as protection of the working mother including the provision of leave for pregnant women.

Provision against racial discrimination is embedded in the ICEARD. The framework provides for universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction in terms of sex, race, language and religion.

Convinced that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere

Adopted in 1979, CEDAW defines what constitutes discrimination of against women and the framework to end such discrimination.  Some of the provisions include ensuring women have equal opportunity and access in public and political life, education, health and employment.

the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

While Kenya has ratified the CEDAW, it has not ratified the Optional Protocol on CEDAW, which allows individuals or groups to make complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (a body that monitors States parties’ compliance with the Convention).



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