Unpaid care work in Kenya

Kenya  is one of four focus countries in ActionAid International’s programme on women’s unpaid care work. ActionAid created a participatory time use tool that participants in each country could use to measure the time and energy they spend on unpaid care work. In Kenya women participants reported that they spent less time sleeping than men and spent 1.4 hours on unpaid care compared to every hour spent by men. They expressed their desire for paid work, in order to earn an independent income and to gain recognition and social status that comes with it. In Tangulbei, Kenya, women on average spend 1.8 hours on water collection, and as sources of water dry up women and girls are forced to travel further to find water. This means women spend more time and energy in water collection and this may expose them to violence.

Graphic showing minutes per day spent on collection of fuel or water, 99 for women, 38 for men.

Gender balance of collection of fuel or water, Kenya. Taken from ActionAid Making Care Visible programme

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Gender equality in Kenya

Progress on gender equality has been made in Kenya; particularly around women’s political participation, with specifications for gender equity in decision making included in Kenya’s new constitution of 2007. However, women still face many barriers in all spheres, including education, health, employment and public life.

The Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) most recently examined Kenya in 2011.It recognised the ongoing efforts in the country to increase the enrolment and retention of girls in schools, but it noted a high prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment of girls by male teachers and students. It reported that discrimination against women in the labour market persists, with a low rate of female engagement in paid work, and a wide wage gap between women and men. Female headed households are disproportionately represented among the chronically poor and women experience constraints such as limited access to land, capital and microfinance facilities. Violence against women persists in Kenya, along with harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, polygamy, bride price and wife inheritance.

The country was ranked 46 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. It was ranked 104 out of 155 in the 2012 Social Watch Gender Equity Index.

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