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Kenyan women enjoy 81pc of the legal rights of men

Kenya stands well above its neighbors on the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law Index scoring 80.6 out of 100 compared to the regional average of 72.6 observed across Sub-Saharan Africa, and higher than the average score for Eastern and Southern Africa at 74.1.

A press statement from the World Bank indicates that according to the 2023 Women, Business and the Law data set, Kenya’s score increase over the years was due 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 that women have the same legal rights as men in all areas covered by the Women, Business and the Law index,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda.

The statement further indicates that the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action, hosted a workshop entitled Women, Business and the Law 2023: Legal Reforms and Programming for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment in Kenya to mark the International Women’s Day.

Bringing together key decision-makers, leaders, activists, and stakeholders across government, civil society, academia, private sector, and development partners, the workshop launched the newest findings of the 2023 Women, Business and the Law report.

The statement highlighted that the report’s findings for Kenya will serve as a platform to motivate a discussion on improving gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in the country. By sharing highlights from the report’s findings as well as insights for future reforms and interventions, the event shed light on the impact of laws and programming on women’s empowerment.

“Kenya has room for improvement in the areas of 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,” read the statement.

It further stated that at the regional level, Eastern and Southern African economies score on average 74.1 on the Women, Business and the Law Index, which is 3 points below the global average of 77.1.

The highest-scoring economy in the region is Mauritius (89.4). In contrast, the lowest scoring economy in the region is Sudan (29.4). Globally, of the 44 economies with scores higher than 90, none are in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Despite Eastern and Southern Africa’s progress in the areas of mobility, workplace, and entrepreneurship, challenges remain. Specifically, the area of parenthood, with an average score of 43.8 shows the largest room for improvement, as no economy in the region scores 100 on this indicator.

Women, Business and the Law 2023 assesses 190 countries’ laws and regulations in eight areas related to women’s economic participation, mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.

The data which are current through Oct. 1, 2022 offer objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward legal gender equality.

Today, just 14 countries all high-income economies have laws that give women same rights as men. Worldwide, nearly 2.4 billion women of working age still do not have the same rights as men.

“Closing the gender employment gap could raise long-term GDP per capita by nearly 20 per cent on average across countries. Studies estimate global economic gains of $5-6 trillion if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men do,” read the statement.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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