Latest study maps out the growing challenges for women in Kenyan politics


UN Women has published a political economy analysis (PEA) of women’s political participation in Kenya to increase understanding of the experiences and challenges faced by women. The findings will inform evidence-based programmes and strategies to improve women’s political participation ahead of the 2027 election.

The political economy analysis was produced under the UNDP basket fund for Deepening democracy. Photo: UN Women/Luke Horswell


Despite robust legislation through Kenya’s Constitution, and improved results in the 2022 election, the number of female politicians remains low. Kenya remains one of the lowest ranking countries in the region when it comes to women’s participation in politics. The study investigates the factors that inhibit women candidates from vying and obstacles that exist once elected. In particular, the study brings into perspective how barriers to women’s political life are evolving, from violence shifting to more brutal online attacks, sexual harassment within political party ranks, and the disproportionate cost of running for office for women candidates.

The study’s findings are based on literature review, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions in Nairobi, Kirinyaga, Mombasa, Wajir, Kakamega, Kisumu, Meru and Nakuru counties. The core recommendations from the study call for a significant increase in civic voter education, expanding civil society networks to strengthen advocacy efforts, and sustained high-level policy dialogue to generate buy-in from Kenya’s political elite.

UN Women Deputy Country Representative to Kenya Dan Bazira underlined the importance of using this data to inform interventions of state and non-state actors to achieve gender parity in Kenyan politics:

“Inclusion, participation and representation are critical tenets of democratic governance. A society cannot claim to be truly democratic if it leaves out half of its population in key-decision making processes. Although there has been commendable progress on gender equality in Kenya, the political system continues to disenfranchise and disadvantage women who face multiple barriers in participating in politics.”

The study has been commission under UNDP Kenya’s basket fund ‘Consolidating Democratic Dividends for Sustainable Transformation in Kenya’ project together with its development partners UK-Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO); European Union (EU); Republic of Germany; Republic of Ireland and Republic of Italy.