What you need to know:
- When you have the social protection that is 10 per cent of the liveable wage, it really helps little. That is putting a bandage on something that is in stitches.
- We need data showing the average income for female-headed households.
- There are a number of taxes that come with formalising businesses and this can discourage women from formalising theirs.
Ask Ms Arielle Molino, Associate Vice President at Intellecap what it takes to raise vulnerable women out of poverty and she will tell you, it begins with letters 'D' and 'P'.
With more than 10 years’ experience in social impact investments, Ms Molino has witnessed changing fortunes among women through efficient and effective driven interventions.
Intellecap advises governments, corporations, non-profits, and development agencies on investments that have a social impact. It has a presence in 25 countries around the world including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Well, in Kenya the 'D' for data and 'P' for partnerships have to work in tandem for vulnerable women to be freed from extreme poverty.
Take the social protection programs in which women and men aged above 70 years as well as households with persons with severe disabilities and vulnerable children receive Sh2,000 a month, a State stipend disbursed bi-monthly through selected banks.
Ms Molino acknowledges their great significance in alleviating poverty but exemplifies just how impactful they could be, if they were stratified to take into account of the impoverished female-headed households and vulnerable women caring for children and the elderly.
“The liveable wage is Sh20,000 and the minimum wage is Sh13,000. So when you have the social protection that is 10 per cent of the liveable wage, it really helps little. That is putting a bandage on something that is in stitches,” she explains.
But with data pointing to the needs and priority areas, women can be lifted from extreme poverty.
“For instance, we need data showing the average income for female-headed households. This then can help to develop informed policies that speak to people in specific situations .That is how we can end the vicious cycle of poverty,” she says.
Although Ms Molino recognises that implementing such women empowerment policies is often problematic, she prescribes an antidote.
“To actualise policies, it is important for the government to formally partner with community-based organisations that work on women's rights. They can channel funds to the organisations (to facilitate implementation of the policies),” she says.
A recent Oxfam report - The Inequality Virus - indicated that 112 million women could keep their incomes had there been equal gender representation in jobs hardest hit due to outbreak of Covid-19.
For global workplace to have a balanced male to female workforce, Ms Molino outlines four key essentials.
Elimination of systemic barriers where women could spend less time in unpaid work and much of networking to get extensive exposure to better paying opportunities.
This is alongside access to quality education that prepares both gender for job market and deliberate efforts by organisations to support men and women advance in the workplace including maternity and paternity leave.
“There is also need for mentorship and role modelling to create pathways for others to see that they can actually do it,” she observes adding that “women need to also be confident to take up challenging roles.”
Well, operationalization of Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement presents women with a challenge to transform their businesses from informal to formal enterprises, in order to benefit from the pact.
“To take advantage of the agreement, women will have to formalise their businesses,” she says.
“To grow their businesses beyond the mama mboga businesses so that they can have the capacity to trade formally and establish partnerships with people across the borders,” she adds.
But then comes the dilemma; should they formalise, trade across borders and get to pay taxes that eat into their profits or maintain their informality and retain the high profit margin?
Ms Molino says: “There are a number of taxes that come with formalising businesses and this can discourage women from formalising theirs."
“There needs to be a fine balance between how they can formalise their businesses and how not to disincentive them."