Kenya brought in a new progressive, rights-based constitution in 2010, which provides the legal framework for the government to fulfil basic rights, and for marginalized and vulnerable groups, especially women and children, to claim their rights. However, women still face challenges including the ability to participate effectively in decision making and leadership and that the majority of the female members of the national parliament and the county assemblies are new to the legislature. The situation is compounded by the absence of a credible and vibrant women’s movement to advocate for the constitutional gender equality gains.

The Kenyan economy remains vulnerable to external shocks and unemployment continues to be a challenge and there are additional challenges for women. For instance, while over 80% of Kenyan women are engaged in small holder farming, only 1% own land in their own right, access less than 10% of available credit, and less than 1% of agriculture credit.

In Kenya, female poverty is exacerbated by gender based violence, including sexual violence, rape, physical violence and sexual harassment. Women’s empowerment is hindered by polygamy, early marriage and harmful cultural and traditional practices such as female genital cutting. Traditional practices governing inheritance, acquisition of land and benefits accruing to land produce continue to favour men. Women’s ability to access the justice system is limited by legal costs, traditional justice systems, illiteracy and ignorance of rights. Women are also disproportionately affected by HIV/Aids with 6.9% of women aged 15 to 64 affected, compared to 4.4% for men of the same age group.

Our Programmes

Women lead and participate in governance

The outcomes of this programme are that women participate equally in democratic governance structures and that women participate equally in national and devolved levels and in private and public institutions and that service delivery at national levels and in selected counties is gender responsive and gender equitable. UN Women Kenya will target women leaders and young potential female leaders and seeks to strengthen women’s ability to participate effectively in governance structures at national and local levels to influence the gender equality agenda. We will raise public awareness of the gender equality constitutional provisions, devolution and ongoing institutional reform processes and progress in terms of improved, gender-responsive service delivery. We will support efforts to establish a credible women’s movement to push forward a united agenda for implementation of gender equality constitutional provisions, continued gender-responsive development and quality service delivery.

Economically empowered women and youth benefit from public procurement and agriculture and extractive industries value chains

UN Women Kenya will enhance productivity, competitiveness and financial inclusion of women and youth entrepreneurs to benefit from public and private sector market opportunities. We will seek policy reform for affirmative action for women and youth’s economic empowerment and establish partnerships with the private sector to expand business relationships with women-owned enterprises, and support gender sensitive solutions to credit and lending barriers.

Women and girls live a life free from violence

This programme aims to increase public awareness and social mobilization to prevent and end violence against women and girls and to ensure public institutions and service providers are accountable to women and girls for prevention, protection and response. UN Women Kenya will continue support the Africa Unite to End Violence against Women Campaign, target men to mobilise against violence against women and girls, and work to mainstream violence against women and girls issues around the next election period. We will work with media to change attitudes about violence against women and girls, and engage government, civil society organizations, non-government organizations and other institutions such as the Kenya Women Judges Association to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

Peace, security and humanitarian action are shaped by women’s leadership

UN Women Kenya will work in partnership with government and civil society organizations to enhance gender-responsive programming in women, peace and security, humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction. We will provide technical leadership to UN agencies and share research and knowledge with partners including women’s organisations, the Kenya Red Cross Society and various government ministries.

National and devolved planning fully reflects accountability for gender equality commitments and priorities

This programme will engage national governments, women’s organizations and networks and gender advocates to support gender-responsive national planning and budgeting processes. We will also support capacity strengthening of Government (including devolved government) to analyse, formulate and execute gender-responsive plans and budgets.