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Inspiring the Future of Kenya: Urging Action on International Women’s Day 2024

On International Women’s Day 2024, we find ourselves at a crucial moment in the quest for gender equality in Kenya. While there have been advancements in women’s economic empowerment, the persistent gender pay gap and the burden of unpaid work highlight the need for continuous focus and action. As we celebrate achievements, we must also acknowledge the realities and reaffirm our commitment to driving change for women and girls nationwide.

The most recent findings from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) show a troubling gap: women in Kenya earn significantly less than men and carry a disproportionate share of unpaid domestic and caregiving duties. This imbalance hinders women’s financial independence and limits their involvement in the wider economy.

Moving forward requires a comprehensive approach involving policy reforms and societal changes. The government must lead the way in implementing policies that directly address these disparities, such as introducing paid parental leave, offering subsidized childcare, and promoting workplace flexibility. Additionally, conducting pay audits and establishing transparent pay policies are crucial steps in closing the gender pay gap.

However, it is not solely the government’s responsibility. The private sector must also step up by providing fair compensation and clear career advancement opportunities for women. By working together, these actions can create an environment where women can excel professionally and achieve a better work-life balance.

Both the government and private sector must invest in infrastructure and technologies that alleviate time constraints for women, such as accessible water systems, clean energy, and road networks. It is essential to recognize that caregiving includes elder care and care for persons with disabilities, not just childcare.

The funding gap identified by UN Women, amounting to an astounding USD 360 billion annually needed to achieve gender equality by 2030, underscores the urgency of addressing these issues. Investments in women’s education, skills development, and access to finance are fundamental to empowering women economically, enabling them to fully contribute to Kenya’s economy.

The gender digital divide poses another significant challenge. In an increasingly digital world, ensuring women have access to digital tools and skills is crucial for their participation in the digital economy. By targeting investments in digital literacy and online entrepreneurship, new opportunities can open up for women to lead and innovate in Kenya’s thriving technology sector.

Rural women, who play a vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation, exemplify the need for tailored support. Investing in women farmers through access to resources, agricultural extension services, and financial services can amplify their efforts in ensuring food and nutritional security while building resilience against climate change challenges.

The Affirmative Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) program by the Government of Kenya is a positive step forward, but its potential has yet to be fully realized. Elevating awareness about the program and assisting women entrepreneurs in navigating the procurement process is essential to leverage this opportunity for economic empowerment. Additionally, training procurement officers to prioritize and comply with AGPO requirements is crucial for its success.

Let us commit to renewed efforts to empower women across Kenya this International Women’s Day. By addressing issues such as the gender pay gap, unpaid work, expanding digital access, and supporting women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in climate action, we can make significant progress towards gender equality.

Our call to action is clear: It is time for all stakeholders – government, private sector, civil society, and communities – to come together and invest in women’s empowerment. Recognizing the invaluable contributions of women to our society and economy, let us take tangible steps to address the obstacles they face.

By investing in women, we are investing in the future of Kenya. We have the necessary data, insights, and strategies to bring about change. Now is the moment to turn our commitment into action. Let’s use this International Women’s Day as a catalyst for change, paving the way for a more inclusive, fair, and prosperous Kenya for all. This mirrors the 10-point declaration of the G7 strategy by the women governors of Kenya.

Today’s accomplishments show what can be achieved when we prioritize gender equality. However, there is still much work to be done. Together, we can bridge the gaps, open new opportunities, and shape 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 have a lasting impact on women’s lives across the nation. Investing in women is not just a moral and social imperative, it is a fundamental strategy for national prosperity and progress.

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

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