Everyone has a critical role to play to promote equity for women in Kenya. We should create supporting environments for women in our communities. This will help the women to thrive and we can achieve that in different ways.
Ways we can promote equity for women in Kenya
Promoting equity for women in Kenya does not mean undermining the rights of men. On the contrary, men have a huge role to play to assist women to achieve equity and equality. It is not ‘un-African’ to make women equal to men in terms of access to opportunities.
1. Gender analysis
First, we can initiate a gender analysis to examine the differences in the lives of men and women in Kenya. The differences include those that lead to social and economic inequity for women. The understanding should then apply to decision making, policy development, and service delivery.
To promote equity for women in Kenya, we need to acknowledge the existence of marginalization of women. We should then challenge the stereotypes and attitudes that lead to marginalization of women in Kenya.
2. Provision, design and maintenance of infrastructure
Provision, design, and maintenance of infrastructure are important to promote equity for women in Kenya. It has a significant impact on the way women use public spaces and community facilities. It also influences how they interact with their community.
We should lobby to ensure that the planning and design of community infrastructure responds to and respects the needs of women. We should analyze how people use public spaces and create ways to make them more inclusive for women. This involves
- investigating who uses community infrastructure, when and for how long;
- looking at which community groups don’t use a particular space and why.
Men and women in Kenya use public transport differently due to their employment patterns, and family and household responsibilities. Women are less likely to have access to a car and are more likely to walk and use public transport. When travelling on public transport, women are often carrying shopping and accompanied by small children.
Women collecting children from school and childcare usually travel outside of peak hour. They also travel across towns and cities. However, most of the public transport design is for people who travel in and out of city and town centers, at peak hour and without children, prams, and shopping.
In recent years, recognition for the necessity of gender analysis of transport infrastructure has increased. This will ensure equity by meeting the different transport needs for women in Kenya.
3. Gender audit of existing policies
We can initiate a gender audit on existing policies and strategies to identify existing gaps.
For example, women generally seek a home that is located within proximity to social services and family networks. They also prefer a home close to public transport, educational opportunities, and employment. Therefore, it is important to consider these gaps and create equity for women.
We can achieve this by reducing the gap between women and access to social services.
4. Fostering women leadership
We can create an enabling environment for women to participate in government. This is a unique position to encourage and foster women’s leadership and decision-making. It will ensure that women have equal representation.
We should make it our responsibility to work towards enabling the full participation of all women in Kenya. This should be in all aspects of political, social, economic, community and public life.
5. Changing workplace attitudes
There has been a significant increase in paid employment for women in Kenya. However, workplace attitudes and assumptions that lead to discrimination and unequal outcomes between women and men still prevail. These include low wage payment and inflexible work arrangements.
Supporting fair and more flexible workplaces is essential in advancing equitable opportunities for women. To resolve this, we can ensure that women benefit from family friendly employment conditions. We can also ensure job quality, pay equity, satisfaction with hours worked and career progression for women.
6. Participating in recreational activities
There are many benefits from participation in sport and recreation activities. It leads to the physical and mental health and well-being. Evidence shows that participation in sport fosters increased self-esteem. It also fosters strong sense of belonging and facilitates social inclusion and community integration.
However, there are still low rates of participation of women and girls in all aspects of sport. Women remain under-represented at all levels of coaching, officiating, and leadership.
We can ensure that community spaces are safe and welcoming to all women. Local governments can ensure that sporting clubs and recreation facilities adopt strategies that promote inclusive sporting environment.
For example, local governments can promote and support the participation of women and girls in sport and recreation programs and policies. They can undertake an audit of the current sports and recreation programs and identify opportunities to further support programs and teams for women and girls.
7. Other factors to consider to promote equity for women in Kenya
Other factors can promote equity for women in Kenya. These factors also affect the ability of women to access and use social services. They include age, ability, ethnicity, cultural and religious background, socio economic status and literacy.
Women and men may experience different barriers and constraints with regard to accessing services. Yet, women suffer more from these challenges. We need to identify relevant gender reporting resources that take into account all the seven issues above. The list is not exhaustive, but it is a key step to promote equity for women in Kenya.