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Women remain discriminated despite gender rule

02 March 2015, 21:16 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – Despite the attainment of the New Constitution which sought to end discrimination against women in all spheres of life, majority of women still work in informal sectors without any federal support.

A survey dubbed “The Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)” conducted in 2014 by Ministry of Devolution indicates that only 29% women earn from formal employment in the country.

“Currently, women in Kenya do the vast of agricultural work and produce/market the majority food yet they earn only a fraction of the income generated and own a nominal percentage of assets,” states the CEDAW report.

“The effect is severe - nearly 40% of households are run solely by women and, because of lack of fair income, nearly all these homes suffer from poverty or extreme poverty,” the report adds, citing from another 2014 FSD survey.

The inequality menace in employment contravenes the Employment Act, Section 5 (3) and the Constitution’s Article 26 to 51 which bars any form of discrimination on grounds of gender (among others) in accessing jobs and job security.

Read Also: Wealthier men less likely to do housework

Although the Constitution provides that not more than two-thirds of any appointed or elected body may be of same gender to realize gender balance, the report shows that the country is yet to meet the 30% gender threshold. For instance, it reveals that the nation has only 15 women envoys, equivalent to 23.85 of its diplomatic corps.

“There continues to be under-representation of women in the Diplomatic corps positions despite the constitutional provision demanding for equitable representation of men and women in appointive positions,” states the survey.

Discrimination in appointive positions is particularly worse at County Government level compared to National Government. For example, the survey shows out of 47 County Secretaries, only 6 are female which is equivalent to 13% while out of 47 County Assembly Clerks, only 10 are female, equivalent to 21%.

At the National Government level, the report shows there is extreme inequality in Parastatals where out of 36 appointed parastatal heads in the country, only two are female, equivalent to 6%. Other heads in selected government organizations such as Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, Chair - Independent Offices, Chair- Constitutional Commissions and Magistrates within Nairobi, meet the constitutional 30% gender rule.

Citizens are also to blame for continued gender inequality since out of sitting 47 Senators and Governors, no female was elected during the 2013 general elections although some contested. Only 16 female, equivalent to 5% out of 290 Members of National Assembly were elected while majority of those in political leadership are nominated to overcome the two-third same gender representation in elective or appointive positions.

However, the CEDAW report shows that there is remarkable increase of female enrollment in educational institutions compared to past decades although parity in university education between men and women is yet to be attained at all levels in the country.

“The overall university student enrollment increased by 34.95 from 240, 551 in 2012/13 to 324, 560 in 2013/14. Women student enrollment rose by 25% to 131, 375 in 2013/14 while male student enrollment increased by 42.6% from 135, 436 in 2012/13 to 193, 185 in 2013/14,” states the survey.

The report reveals the increased university student enrollment particularly among females is attributed to introduction of new courses, establishment of women study centers in some public universities in addition to upgrading of university colleges.

The number of girls enrolling for secondary education has risen but mostly hampered by considerable number of dropouts, indicating that obstacles to girls’ education have not been totally eliminated.

“The number of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education candidates increased by 3% from 432, 443 in 2012 to 445, 520 in 2013. The number of female candidates grew by 4.6% to 202, 539 in 2013 compared to an increase of 1.7% for number of female candidates. However, the total number of girls is still lower,” states the CEDAW report.

However, Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Anne Waiguru, says so far the country has made remarkable progress in addressing the gender inequality menace after the attainment of the New Constitution and expressed optimism that total equality between the two genders will be attained with the full implementation relevant legislated laws.   

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