Kenya Gender ranking on education, declining economic inclusion
More women in Kenya are deprived of education and employment opportunities than in the past 15 years, according to a new report, dealing a blow to efforts to close a huge development gap between the sexes.
This gap in education and the economic front worsened over the period, eroding the plight of women in the country’s development agenda.
The latest Global Gender Gap Report for 2021 from the World Economic Forum ranks Kenya 95th out of 156, up from 73rd in 2006.
This is mainly due to slippages in the education and economic involvement of women. In 2021, Kenya was ranked 84th for women’s participation in economic activities, which is a sharp drop from 40th in 2006.
Kenya has also lost ground on education opportunities for women, occupying post 126 in 2021, a steep drop from post 88 a decade and a half ago.
The report, which compares the evolution of gender gaps across four key dimensions, including economic participation, educational attainment, health and political empowerment, tracks progress in closing these gaps.
“The slow progress observed in closing the gap between economic participation and opportunity is the result of two opposing trends. [the] on the one hand, the proportion of women among qualified professionals continues to increase, as does the progression towards equal pay, albeit at a slower pace. On the other hand, overall income disparities are still only halfway closed and there is a persistent shortage of women in leadership positions, with women accounting for only 27% of all managerial positions. direction, ”the report says.
In Kenya, the number of women-owned businesses remains low compared to their male counterparts, with figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showing that around 30 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises are owned by women.
This is the case despite other studies showing that women have greater entrepreneurial potential.
For example, a World Bank survey last year showed that women-led businesses in Kenya have a greater impact on investments, supporting huge portions of the household budget, increasing the need for financing. special more important for these companies.
According to the World Bank study, in Kenya, enterprise-level profits made by women entrepreneurs represent on average 65% of their household income, while these enterprises mainly employ women, which reinforces their financial multiplier effects. both on the national economy and on households.
“Women-run businesses primarily employ women, which shows that they can be a catalyst in attracting more women to the workforce. About 75% of workers in women-owned businesses are women (excluding the business owner), while in male-owned businesses, only 20 percent of employees are women, ”the company showed. study.
Women’s businesses in Kenya have been hampered by the lack of access to affordable credit. While one in five female traders owned their business premises, according to the World Bank, most businesses were poorly capitalized compared to male-owned businesses who typically had up to six times more capital than male traders. women-owned businesses.
Most women, according to the study, relied on microcredit facilities run on mobile apps where the borrowed money was paid off within days, allowing traders to borrow again the next day.
Women traders, known to have a higher loan repayment score than men, mainly operate in makeshift sheds that do not require a connection to electricity, unlike male traders.
The economic empowerment of women in Kenya has also been hampered by pay disparities in the workplace.
A report from the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) found that on average, a Kenyan woman is paid 68 shillings for every 100 shillings paid to a man, revealing a gender pay gap.
The report also showed that women are under-represented in managerial positions in Nairobi stockbrokers, denying them the higher salaries that come with such positions.
According to the KNBS, most women have been sentenced to low-wage sectors while men dominate the higher-paying sectors, which widens the opportunity gap.
The data indicate that women are predominant in household and social tasks with 60.6% and 57.7% respectively. On the other hand, men dominate high-paying sectors such as manufacturing and real estate with 79.6 percent and 76.1 percent in that order.
The lack of representation of women in well-paying jobs could be due to the fact that girls are still out of school.
Education is an essential component of human capital which increases an individual’s chances of participating in the economy.
Although 121 countries have reduced the gender gap in education by at least 95%, Kenya is among the countries where the literacy rate of women is significantly lower than that of men.
Kenya offers free primary and secondary education for boys and girls. This has played a big role in ensuring an almost equal ratio of students enrolled in schools. However, in higher education where parents are expected to pay the children’s school fees, the difference becomes extreme.
For example, in 2019, about 5.1 million (50.6%) of elementary school students were boys and 4.96 million (49.3%) were girls. In high schools, they were tied at 1.63 million.
KNBS data reveals that around 303,034 or 60 percent of students in public and private universities were male, while 206,439 or 40 percent were female.
“Development challenges hamper the academic success of girls and boys in primary, secondary and higher education. More needs to be done to reduce the gender gap while equipping new generations with the skills of the future to participate and contribute to the economic development of their countries, ”the WEF report notes.
Although lagging behind in education and women’s economic empowerment, Kenya has recorded improvements in health care and political participation.
The Gender Gap Report shows Kenya improved its ranking in the Health and Survival Index to 60th place in 2021 from 96 in 2006.
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Kenya has in recent years increased funding for health care programs for women due to concerns about high rates of maternal mortality.
Estimates from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) show that the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes in Kenya stands at around 488 deaths per 100,000 live births, leaving the country ranked among the top 10 countries. most dangerous for a woman to give birth in the world.
This has been attributed to the limited use of skilled care and poor coverage of health facilities.
For these reasons, the government and its development partners have stepped up expansion of maternal health care, including building more labor rooms and clinics to reduce deaths.
In addition to maternal health care, the Global Gender Report 2021 shows that Kenya has also reduced the gender representation gap in politics.
The country is ranked 79th for women’s participation in politics in 2021, up from 93rd in 2006.
Although there has been an improvement in the number of women in the legislature, their number is still below the constitutional threshold.
Under the constitutional rule of two-thirds of the sexes, the dominant sex should occupy only 66.66% of public office.
But currently, men dominate the National Assembly since only 59 of the 349 deputies are women.
This means that the 290 male MPs occupy 83 percent of the seats. In the Senate, the 47 male legislators represent 70 percent of the available seats.
The government of President Uhuru Kenyatta was recently challenged after the Supreme Court recommended the dissolution of the National Assembly for failing to respect the two-thirds rule of the sexes.