Kenya is a country in East Africa and according to the 2019 census, it has a population of 47.6 million. Although its economy is the largest and most developed in eastern and central Africa, 36.1% (2015/2016) of its population lives below the international poverty line, with women more likely to be in poverty. Kenya also hosts one of the largest refugee populations in Africa. It has 495,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 265,000 from Somalia and close to 122,000 from South Sudan, some 45,000 from DRC, and 29,000 from Ethiopia.
Status of Women and Girls
According to the new Kenya women's empowerment index, only 29% of women in Kenya between the ages of 15 and 49 are empowered. The index, launched in 2020, is “the first comprehensive and systematic measure” for women's and girls' empowerment in Kenya.
Some key highlights from the index include:
The level of empowerment seems to be decreasing with increase in age, which means the older women are, the more disempowered they seem to be.
The burden of care is disempowering women because women with fewer children were more likely to be empowered. For example, 41% of women with no children are empowered, compared to 36%, 24%, and 13% among women with 1-2 children, 3-4 children, and 5+ children respectively.
- Reproductive Health
Maternal mortality is one of the impending drivers of gender inequality. World Bank Gender Statistics database, 2020 reports a maternal mortality ratio of 342 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017, nearly 5 times the SDG 3.1 target of 70/100,000 live births.
Women and girls also experience sexual and domestic violence which has increased significantly during the Covid pandemic. Research shows that increasingly younger children were being targeted, with survivors having an average age of 12 years old, compared to a national average of 16. Many women and girls are less able to get help because of the stigmatisation, threats and further violence if they report incidents to the police or when they access medical care. They also face destitution due to the lack of access to safe spaces.