2.6 Million Kenyan Women Lost Jobs to Pandemic - Report

  • Jobseekers wait to hand in their documents during recruitment at County Hall in Nairobi, 2019.
    Jobseekers wait to hand in their documents during recruitment at County Hall in Nairobi, 2019.
    NMG
  • A new report dubbed Covid-19 Gender Assessment Kenya published in March 2021, has revealed the extent of suffering among Kenyan women during the global pandemic.

    According to the report, the pandemic led to a total loss of income for more women (20 percent), than men (12 percent).

    In 2019, Kenya's female population aged 18 and above amounted to approximately 13.2 million. Assuming the 20 percent mentioned in the report as having lost their source of income translates across the entire country, this would imply that at least 2.6 million women lost their jobs during the pandemic.

    The comprehensive survey analysed the gendered socio-economic effects of Covid-19 and provided policy recommendations to guide responses, interventions, and recovery plans for Kenya.

    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (Left) and his Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi during a press briefing in March 2020.
    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (Left) and his Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi during a press briefing in March 2020.
    File

    The analysis was informed by primary data collected from a sample of 2,587 individuals from all the 47 counties in Kenya between August 4, and September 8, 2020,  using Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews (CATI).

    This was done so as to get a sample from all the counties in a bid to generate a comprehensive picture of the overall situation across the country.

    "Household food security was at risk during the pandemic as a result of declining incomes, potentially reduced food production and limited market access, 

    "More women than men had to either eat less/ skip a meal (33 percent and 31 percent, respectively) or go hungry without food (12 percent and 10 percent, respectively)," reads an excerpt from the study.

    Although Covid-19 affected the physical health of both women and men, the burden of mental and psychological health disproportionately fell on women. 

    Coupled with the circumstances around the pandemic, such home-based care for asymptomatic patients, the burden of stress, anxiety and confidence, losing one’s job, amid financial constraints may have contributed to the decline in the mental health of women at 60 percent relative to men at 56 percent.

    Similarly, sexual and gender-based violence, including physical and psychological abuse and other forms of abuse and sexual violence often placed girls and women at high risk of physical and mental trauma, disease and unwanted pregnancies.

    The report highlighted the need for government to increase the affirmative action funds to cover more women particularly low-income earners who rely on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

    "There is a need for the government to extend the tax holiday for at least the first quarter of 2021, in an effort to help women-owned MSMEs recover while increasing the disposable income available to wage/ salary earners," it reads in part.

    It further emphasised the need for psychological support, especially to help women facing mental health issues. This could include the government and non-state actors supporting community-based psychiatrist services in local health centers across the country.

    The following institutions were involved in the production of the report: UN Women-Kenya, UNFPA-Kenya, OXFAM-Kenya, Care-Kenya, State Department for Gender, National Gender and Equality Commission, Council of Governors, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, GROOTS-Kenya, UNILEVER Tea-Kenya, GeoPoll, and IPSOS-Kenya.

    Job seekers in Kenya.
    Job seekers in Kenya.
    File
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