25 years on: Tracking progress in women’s rights since Beijing


Twenty-five years since the adoption of the progressive road map for gender equality, the Beijing Platform for Action, it is time to take stock of progress made for women’s rights so far and the gaps that remain.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day under the apt theme #GenerationEquality, Nation Newsplex examines how far women in Kenya have come in achieving gender parity. Below are some facts on gender equality in Kenya, sourced from the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, Economic Survey 2019, World Economic Forum, Oxfam and Nairobi Stock Exchange.

Women in leadership

  • Two in five (278 out of 668) Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court judges and magistrates are women.
  • Seven of 60 Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed companies (12 percent) have a female chief executive officer or managing director. One of them was acting.
  • Less than a quarter (23 percent) of the 61 Cabinet and principal secretaries are women, well below the two-thirds gender rule.
  • There are two women out of 47 governors. In the 2017 General Election, three women made history by becoming the first women in Kenya to be elected governor, including Anne Waiguru in Kirinyaga, Charity Ngilu in Kitui and Joyce Cherono Laboso in Bomet. Laboso passed away in 2019 and was replaced by a man.
  • The three women elected senators in the 2017 General Election are Fatuma Adan Dullo, in the conservative pastoral Isiolo county, Margaret Jepkoech Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru). With the 18 female nominated senators, women constitute almost a third of the 67-member Senate.
  • Over a fifth (22 percent) of the members of the national assembly are women.


  • One in five women age 23 and above has never been to school compared to one in seven men.
  • Two in five of the about 1.3 million Kenyans who are university graduates are female.
  • There were 268,755 males in university when the national census was conducted in August last year, 14 percentage points higher than females.

Unpaid work

  • Women small-scale traders in Nairobi’s slums spend 49 hours a week making goods for sale, compared with 53 hours spent by male colleagues, according to Women and Unpaid Care Work: Rapid Care Work Analysis in Nairobi Informal Settlements, a study published late last year by Oxfam.
  • Female small-scale traders in slum areas of Nairobi put in 65 man-hours into unpaid care in a week, more than double that spent by male colleagues (29), and have 36 rest hours, 13 less than their male colleagues’ 49, finds the Oxfam study.

Paid work

  • One in three formal sector employees who earn Sh100,000 and above is a woman.
  • Women earn Sh68 for every Sh100 men get for similar work.

Diversity in the workplace

  • Over a third (36 percent) of the about 2.8 million people in wage employment in Kenya are women.
  • 47 percent of females’ age five years and above work compared to 48 percent of men.


  • More than half (57 percent) of 918,270 individuals at least age five with a disability are female.

Information and communication technology

  • A slightly higher proportion of male (47.6 percent) age three and above own a mobile phone compared to women (47 percent).
  • A larger share of men (a quarter) use the internet compared to women (a fifth).
  • Slightly more men (10 percent) age three and above use computers and tablets as opposed to women (nine percent).

Sexual harassment

  • Sexual and inappropriate calls are common among women in Nairobi, where one out of five women receive this type of communication, according to a study by Truecaller, a company that helps phone users identify callers and detect spam.
  • One in 10 women who have received harassing calls in Kenya have taken action but very few (six percent) ever report this to the authorities.
  • Common actions included blocking the number (by half the victims), ignoring the calls/sms, calling the operator for help (32 percent), telling the harasser to stop (29 percent) and reporting to authorities (six percent).
  • About 47 percent of all the sexual harassment calls/sms come from inmates in Kenya, and 53 percent come from unknown people.

Gender parity

  • Overall, gender parity in Kenya stands at 67 percent in favour of males. Kenya ranks 109 out of 153 on the Global Gender Gap Index that benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, education, health and political criteria. It places Kenya at number 20 out of 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.