What you need to know:
- The 2023 Women, Business and the Law dataset scores Kenya 80.6 per cent in eight areas related to women’s economic participation.
- The areas are mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.
Kenyan women enjoy only 81 per cent of the legal rights in a world where just 14 countries, all high-income, offer women the same rights as men, according to a new report by the World Bank.
The 2023 Women, Business and the Law dataset scores Kenya 80.6 per cent in eight areas related to women’s economic participation – mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.
Despite the disparity, the country still ranks well above its neighbours and sub-Saharan Africa’s regional average of 72.6. The average score for Eastern and Southern Africa is 74.1, which is still 3.0 points below the global average of 77.1.
Kenya’s score increase over the years was linked to the enactment of legislation on domestic violence, the prohibition of gender discrimination in employment, and the mandate of equal remuneration for work of equal value.
“While Kenya has made significant strides in promoting gender equality and women's economic empowerment, including the enactment of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act in 2015, there is still work to be done to ensure women have the same legal rights as men in all areas covered by the women, business and law index,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda.
The findings were released at workshop hosted by the World Bank in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action. The event shed light on the impact of laws and programming on women’s empowerment and offered insights into future reforms and interventions. It was observed that Kenya has room for improvement in parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pensions.
“To address these gaps, Kenya may wish to consider implementing policies such as at least 14 weeks of paid leave for mothers, ensuring that this is paid by the government, making paid parental leave available, prohibiting gender-based discrimination in access to credit, allowing women to register a business in the same way as a man, ensuring equal inheritance rights for both spouses, and accounting for periods of absence due to childcare in pension benefits.”
The report, which assesses 190 countries’ laws and regulations, found that the highest-scoring economy on the continent is Mauritius at 89.4, while the lowest scoring economy is Sudan at 29.4. Globally, of the 44 economies with scores higher than 90, none are in eastern and southern Africa.