Crawn Trust

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WOMEN'S ECONOMIC FORUM 2021

There are numerous challenges facing women in Kenya’s economy, including lack of financial power and or support, significant lack of business development knowledge, limited growth opportunities, systemic corruption and business attitudes; poor or no long term business planning, limited market access and value chain inclusion, detrimental cultural misconceptions about work and business; these and many more challenges have held businesswomen in Kenya back from achieving their true potential and playing a greater role in their families, local communities and the economy at large. The Women and Economy Conference sets its sights on these and other socio-economic challenges faced by Kenyan businesswomen and strives to break the mode of under-representation and inhibited growth.
A research Commissioned by the Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust-CRAWN Trust, on women and the economy, revealed that women especially those in the informal sector are continuously excluded in effective decision making and access to resources due to the informal nature of their engagements. Further, the entrenchment of gender inequality and women disempowerment can also be linked to broader institutional inefficiencies such as weak policy and institutional frameworks with not much attention being paid to practical gender needs. These are some of the issues that have contributed to the minimal achievements in the fight for gender equality and women empowerment.
The gaps between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remain wide (World Economic Forum, 2016). Women in Kenya have been marginalized as far back as the pre-colonial era. The prevalence of a patriarchal system ensured that women were kept in the periphery not only from
the realms of the political sphere but also with regard to their effective participation in economic development (Amadi,2015)
Globally the COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the gender gap, as it has impacted on women more than it has on men, because women are more than men likely to have insecure jobs and also have to balance between productive or market activities including employment with unpaid care giving activities and home-schooling which have been aggravated by the pandemic. For Kenya in particular, COVID -19 containment measures undertaken by the government including lockout or stay away instructions, restricted movements, curfews, closure of schools, border closures contributed to job losses including in the informal sector (which employs a significant proportion of women) leading to a significant drop in labour force participation (KNBS, 2020). Based on World Bank data for 2019, labour force participation for Kenya was 75 percent, but this dropped to 56.8 percent during COVID-19 pandemic, with participation of men reducing to 65.3 percent while participation of women reduced to 48.8 percent (KNBS, 2020).