Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

On International Women’s Day 2024, we stand at a critical juncture in the journey toward gender equality in Kenya. The strides made in women’s economic empowerment are commendable, yet the persistent gender pay gap and the burden of unpaid work underscore the need for relentless focus and action. As we celebrate the achievements, we must confront the realities and recommit to driving change for women and girls nationwide.

The latest findings from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveal a concerning disparity: women in Kenya earn significantly less than their male counterparts. They are disproportionately burdened with unpaid domestic and caregiving responsibilities. This imbalance undermines women’s economic independence and limits their participation in the broader economy.

The path forward requires a multi-faceted approach involving policy reform and societal shifts. The government must champion policies that address these disparities head-on, including instituting paid parental leave, providing subsidized childcare, and ensuring workplace flexibility. Moreover, conducting pay audits and establishing transparent pay policies are critical steps towards closing the gender pay gap.

However, the responsibility does not lie with the government alone. The private sector must also rise to the occasion by offering fair compensation and clear career progression opportunities for women. Together, these actions can create an environment where women can thrive professionally and achieve a better work-life balance.

Government and private sector should also invest in infrastructure and technologies that reduce women’s time poverty eg, accessible water systems, clean energy and road networks. It is also important to note that care includes elder care and PWD care not just childcare.

The financing gap identified by UN Women, amounting to a staggering USD 360 billion annually required to achieve gender equality by 2030, highlights the urgency of addressing these issues. Investments in women’s education, skills development, and access to finance are foundational to empowering women economically. By equipping women with the tools and opportunities they need, we can unlock their potential to contribute fully to Kenya’s economy.

The gender digital divide presents another critical challenge. In an increasingly connected world, ensuring women’s access to digital tools and skills is essential for their participation in the digital economy. Targeting investments in digital literacy and online entrepreneurship can open new avenues for women, enabling them to lead and innovate in Kenya’s vibrant technology sector.

Rural women, who are at the forefront of climate change adaptation and mitigation, exemplify the importance of targeted support. Investing in women farmers through access to resources, agricultural extension services, and financial services can amplify their efforts in securing food and nutritional security while building resilience against climate change challenges.

The Government of Kenya’s Affirmative Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) program is a step in the right direction, yet its potential still needs to be utilized. Raising awareness about the program and supporting women entrepreneurs in navigating the procurement process is crucial to leveraging this opportunity for economic empowerment, while training procurement officers to prioritise and comply with the AGPO requirements is key for its uptake.

Let us commit to renewed efforts to empower women across Kenya on this International Women’s Day. By addressing the dual challenges of the gender pay gap and unpaid work, expanding access to digital technology, and supporting women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in climate action, we can make significant strides toward gender equality.

Our call to action is clear: It is time for all stakeholders—government, private sector, civil society, and communities—to unite and invest in women’s empowerment. Let us recognize the invaluable contributions of women to our society and economy and take concrete steps to address the barriers they face.

By investing in women, we are investing in the future of Kenya. We have the data, the insights, and the strategies needed to make a difference. Now is the moment to transform our commitment into action. Let’s leverage this International Women’s Day as a catalyst for change, forging a path toward a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Kenya for all. This aligns with the 10 pointdeclaration of the G7 strategy by the women governors of Kenya.

Today’s achievements testify to what is possible when we prioritize gender equality. Yet, the work is far from over. Together, we can close the gaps, open new doors, and write a future of hope, equality, and dignity for all women and girls in Kenya. The choice is ours, and the time for action is now. Let us seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on women’s lives across the nation. Investing in women is a moral and social imperative and a foundational strategy for national prosperity and progress.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.

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