Members of parliament (MPs) from all over the world have gathered for the 114th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly on good governance in Nairobi. The meeting the sixth to be held in Africa in the history of IPU takes place against a backdrop of growing criticism of the Kenyan government over its handling of recent graft scandals and its response to severe drought and now flooding in the northeast of the country. Over the next five days delegates representing 117 national assemblies will debate social, political and economic issues of common interest with the overall aim of promoting democracy and building democratic institutions.

In a parallel meeting also in Nairobi, female lawmakers are debating similar issues from a womens perspective in an attempt to promote a more gender-based agenda for IPU. Their meeting will also draw attention to the under-representation of women in parliaments worldwide. In Kenya 18 out of 220 MPs, or just over eight per cent, are women, well below the global average of 16.6 per cent. Rwanda has the largest number of female MPs in the world, with 39 out of 80 seats, or almost 50 per cent, held by women.

Established in 1889 and headquartered in Geneva, IPU has 143 affiliated national parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies.