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The Status of Women’s Political, Economic, and Social Rights in Kenya

In a world where gender equality and women’s empowerment are gaining momentum, Kenya has made significant strides in upholding and promoting women’s rights, backed by an extensive legal and policy framework. The Constitution of Kenya 2010, in particular, lays a robust foundation for gender equality and empowerment. Nevertheless, despite these advances, gaps remain in realizing the vision of fully empowered women with equal opportunities to men.

Key Findings

1. The Unresolved Issue of Women’s Representation

: A significant gap in Kenya’s journey towards gender equality is the failure of Parliament to enact legislation ensuring enhanced representation of women, as mandated by Article 100. The long-pending realization of the two-thirds gender rule, as provided under Article 81 of the Constitution, is a glaring concern.

2. Challenges in Implementing Existing Laws: Even when laws are in place to advance women’s access to better opportunities, implementation remains a challenge. The intended benefits of these laws, aimed at improving women’s lives, are often less evident in practice.

3. Limited Access to Productive Resources: Women in Kenya still face difficulties in owning land, both for agricultural and non-agricultural purposes. This lack of legal rights to land and agricultural produce is particularly concerning, given that women make up the majority of the agricultural sector.

4. Multi-Dimensional Challenges for Equity: Women living in rural areas, with lower educational achievements, and often having lower incomes and wealth, face greater obstacles in life. They are frequently excluded from various opportunities.

5. Negative Cultural Practice: While many Kenyan societies have moved away from negative social norms that held women back, remnants of these practices, including norms around gender violence, women’s property rights, and political participation, persist.


The report presents a set of crucial recommendations to address these gaps and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Kenya.

1. Formulation of the Two-Thirds Gender Rule: Parliament should expedite the review of the electoral system to realize the provisions of Article 81 of the Constitution. The government should strive to have the necessary legislation in place before the next electoral cycle.

2. Removal of Structural Barriers: Efforts should be made to address structural barriers such as the rural-urban divide, low education levels, and poverty that hinder women’s empowerment. Promoting girls’ education is identified as a key enabler for women’s rights, including political participation and property ownership.

3. Confronting Negative Social Norms: Government and civil society should collaborate to help women challenge and dismantle societal norms that hold them back. Educational and advocacy campaigns should be designed to change perceptions that women are less deserving of leadership opportunities, property ownership, and social services.

4. Deepening Social Protection Programs: Social protection programs should be expanded to address gender inequality. This includes promoting education for girls and women, improving access to health and education services, and amplifying women’s voices at the household and community levels.

5. Strengthening Political Participation for Women: Political parties should grant women preferential opportunities and strengthen their space for female candidates. An all-encompassing, multi-agency approach involving the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) is recommended to enhance women’s political participation.

6. Women Involvement in Climate Change Action: Women are disproportionately affected by climate change. Therefore, they should be equally represented in discussions on climate change to introduce a gender-responsive approach to the climate emergency.

7. Understanding the Opportunity Cost: The report highlights the cost of not implementing policies and legislation on women’s rights due to a lack of political goodwill. Further research and evidence-based advocacy are recommended to assess the impact of not implementing these legal provisions.


Kenya has made commendable progress in advancing women’s rights, yet there are significant challenges to overcome. The recommendations in this report provide a roadmap for closing the gaps and creating a more equitable and empowered society where women have the same opportunities and rights as men. It is a call to action for policymakers, civil society, and all Kenyan citizens to work together to achieve true gender equality.