What you need to know:
- Study conducted by ICRW and KAM has exposed existing gender inequalities in the manufacturing sector.
- About 53 per cent of these companies are led by women who founded them and 100 (65 per cent) are led by women hired to run the company.
- A total of 100 companies affiliated to KAM responded to the survey that covered 14 KAM sub-sectors.
- Survey indicated that there are more female-led multinational corporations at 20 per cent compared to male-led MNCs at 12 per cent.
- Local female-led companies had more women in senior management standing at 88 per cent compared to male-led local companies at 75 per cent.
A new study has exposed existing gender inequalities in the manufacturing sector.
The study was conducted by International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) on the inclusivity of women in the manufacturing industry.
KAM has 1,350 registered manufacturing and service-related companies within their membership, from which only 153 (11 per cent) are women-led.
About 53 per cent of these companies are led by women who founded them and 100 (65 per cent) are led by women hired to run the company.
A total of 100 companies affiliated to KAM responded to the survey that covered 14 KAM sub-sectors. It was conducted between February and April this year.
Based on KAM membership, companies in the manufacturing sector are predominantly male-owned and staffed across all 14 manufacturing sub-sectors, except for the chemical and allied sub-sector which has 50 per cent females.
Three sub-sectors of agriculture, paper and board and services and consultancy have a female workforce of 40 per cent. Results from the online survey indicated that there are more female-led multinational corporations (MNC) at 20 per cent compared to male-led MNCs at 12 per cent.
More respondents from the 100 firms that participated in the online survey represented female-owned companies at 13 per cent compared to the nine per cent male-owned companies.
The findings indicate that most female-owned or led companies had been in operation for ten years or less, which could be indicative of women’s recent entry into the manufacturing sector.
Most companies that had been in operation for more than 20 years were found to be either male-owned or male-led.
The survey also found that only one MNC, which has been in operation for more than 20 years had a female leader. It also indicated that female-led MNC had similar proportions of women in senior management at 85 per cent to male-led MNC at 83 per cent, which could be due to affirmative action policies that have become common within such companies.
Male-owned companies, on the other hand, had slightly more women in senior management at 89 per cent than female-owned companies at 85 per cent.
Local female-led companies had more women in senior management standing at 88 per cent compared to male-led local companies at 75 per cent.
Family companies led by women also had more women in senior management at 86 per cent than family companies led by men at 71 per cent. The survey indicates 20 per cent of multinationals which participated are women-led while 12 per cent are male led.
While a majority (57 per cent) of all the companies had a female workforce above a third, this was not always the case when analysed by type of leadership or ownership.
Female-led or owned companies who participated in the study had a female workforce above a third than male-owned companies.
And even though many of the businesses have a lower proportion of female employees, overall female workforce representation is higher in female-led companies.
Although fewer women are employed in the manufacturing sector, there is an overall rising trend for hiring women.
Companies that had been in operation for more than 40 years had a female workforce of 29 per cent, which rose to 35 per cent for companies that were in operation for 11-20 years, and was even higher at 41 per cent for the newest companies (those less than a year old).
Manufacturing makes up 23 per cent of micro-small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the informal economy, with only 48 per cent of these businesses being licensed.
The majority of jobs (90 per cent) created in Kenya are in the informal economy with 768,000 informal sector employees in 2019 of the jobs in the manufacturing sector are informal with formal employment representing only 12 per cent of the sector’s workforce.
Out of the total employees in the sector only 61,100 (17 per cent) were women.
Many of the women-owned manufacturing companies are in the agro-processing field with women missing in lucrative energy, automotive, pharmaceutical and steel sectors among others.
According to the survey, 83 per cent of men are employed in the manufacturing sector compared to women at 17 per cent.
It also revealed that the growth in the manufacturing sector has translated into only a one per cent increase in women’s formal employment in the sector from 2018 to 2019.
An estimated 15 million Kenyans are employed in the MSME.
Ranking on economic participation and opportunity for women stands at 114 out of 153 countries with a score of 0.6 out of 1 on gender parity.
The survey shows that women earn less than men for similar work with a score of 0.7 out of one due to inadequate, uncoordinated and underfunded institutional mechanisms responsible for implementation.
It opines that existing gender inequalities in the manufacturing sector need to be addressed by careful consideration and a gender lens in policy formulation and implementation
It goes on to identify barriers preventing women’s participation in manufacturing in the country that include gender-neutral legal and policy frameworks and low enrolment and retention of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.
Poor access to capital, limited access to technology, training, and advisory services, limited mentorship opportunities, limited access to markets and information and being vulnerable to sexual exploitation were also found to be key barriers.
Women lacking inadequate technical and marketing skills, low financial and business management skills, low risk tolerance and having triple gender roles and cultural norms around manufacturing have also been working against them.
Speaking during the virtual launch of the report, ICRW African Regional Office Director Dr Cleopatra Mugyeni, said changes in the manufacturing sector resultantly have acknowledged the need for women’s participation for completeness to scale innovation, heighten creativity and enhance inclusion.
This is addressed through closing pay gaps, change of perceptions and recognizing the value of women’s labour, talents and skills.
ICRW Technical Specialist on Women in Non-Traditional Sectors Chryspin Afifu said gender neutrality of the existing legal frameworks does not necessarily guarantee the rights of women.
Mr Afifu added that there is need for a critical reflection on the social and cultural contexts which influence policy formulation and implementation.
“Making laws gender-responsive is not about mainstreaming protectionism over women in manufacturing but providing credible frameworks for substantive and sustainable equality for productivity and profitability,” he said.
He observed that the adoption of gender-sensitive and transformative human resource policies is aimed at reducing female workforce turnover and unplanned absenteeism. Gender smart solutions would equal productivity, profitability and performance.
ICRW President Sarah Degan Kambou said the growth of Kenya’s economy should provide an equal opportunity for women to participate as owners, leaders and workers in the manufacturing sector
“Sustainable growth and human development can only be achieved if there is meaningful participation of women in the economy,” Ms Kambou observed.
KAM chairman Mucai Kunyiha said his organisation recognises the importance of women in driving industrial transformation for job creation and inclusive economic growth.
He added KAM will continue to advocate for an inclusive manufacturing sector, through the establishment of policies and policy incentives that encourage women to be key players in value and supply chains.
He observed the first critical step is to understand women’s representation in the sector, address the challenges they face, and seal gaps that inhibit their participation.
“Our aspiration as an association is to see more women participate in the sector in senior leadership roles, as owners and founders, and for young girls to see themselves as future industrialists. The onus is on us as industrialists to adapt manufacturing processes and cultures that will attract and retain more women,” he said.
Women in Manufacturing programme chairperson Flora Mutahi said lack of capital finance, appropriate business development services, and the absence of specialised professional and technical human resources are some of the challenges slowing the growth of women in manufacturing, and hampering their participation.
“The financial sector still has limitations in creating tailored and innovative financial products for funding women start-ups in non-traditional manufacturing,” she said.
Ms Mutahi, also the CEO of Melvin Marsh International Limited observed that the study seeks to inform the advocacy strategy to mainstream gender equality and inclusion in the manufacturing sector.
It is, however, not all gloom as the survey has identified opportunities women can take advantage of to succeed in manufacturing.
They include strengthening multi-sectorial stakeholder advocacy engagement on gender issues, lobbying for subsidies and tax rebates and targeting enrolment and retention of women into STEM courses.
Others include pushing for the development of innovative women-specific financing products, revision of restrictive collateral requirements for finance, strengthening mentorship, networking, and training programs.
To achieve this, women in manufacturing and those aspiring to venture into the sector are challenged to enrol in mentorship and networking programmes, undertake training on financial and business management and unlearning traditions cues and cultural norms.
Kenya is currently ranked 109 out of 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) 2020 and 20 out of 34 African countries. The country's ranking on economic participation and opportunity for women stands at 114 out of 153.
Globally, 55 per cent of the global labour force are women but only 22 per cent of the manufacturing labour force are women. About 40 per cent of global economies have 50 per cent fewer female entrepreneurs than men.