Women’s limited participation in the social, economic and political processes in Kenya is majorly a factor of the historical patriarchal nature of the society. They are therefore faced with both systemic and cultural challenges in their bid to contribute to the County or National development agenda. Discriminatory social norms and gender stereotypes continue to be entertained in both formal and informal institutions thereby hindering progress towards gender equality. A case in point is in the unequal participation and representation of women in political process, which has been informed by biased customs and stereotypes.
Women’s enjoyment of economic rights is also limited by the unequal distribution of resources, and limited access to factors of production, such as land and financial capital. There has been a positive shift in the social norms and practices that used to limit women’s access to education and their enjoyment of the right to employment and adequate standards of living. The challenge arises when the educated girls become women, and their ambitions of participating in leadership positions are blocked despite the fact that they are qualified. Social norms that condone violence against women and girls also prevent them from equal participation and full enjoyment of life. These entrenched social norms, practices and structural challenges, at all levels have created an environment of gender inequality that prevents the transformation of gender power relations that is necessary to realise the empowerment and advancement of women and girls.
Oxfam continues to pursue its commitment to promote sustained, widespread changes in attitudes, practices and beliefs about gender power relations in order to further women’s rights and gender justice. In an effort to achieve this, Oxfam aims to contribute to a significant increase in women’s participation in social, economic and political representation and influence in targeted decision-making processes in order to promote women’s rights in policy and practice.
We aim to bring change at scale by first understanding and challenging key structural, institutional and deeply entrenched blockers of progress on women’s rights. To achieve this, we are working with women rights organisations, national networks, opinion shapers, including religious institutions to support shifts in attitudes, challenge and change power relations at the household, community and national levels.
What does success look like?
Women in target communities and male community leaders report an increase in confidence to vote for women, by 2017 elections.
Positive change in Knowledge, Attitude and Perception towards women in political leadership.
Emerging women leaders – with a focus on young women - report an increase in support (mentorship) and decrease in barriers to women’s participation and leadership, by 2017.
Increased solidarity of communities to challenge gender based violence.
EU funded Wezesha Jamii Project
Oxfam and partners, SITE Enterprise Promotion and NOPE Institute through funding from the EU worked on a women rights project aimed at promoting the livelihoods and social inclusion of vulnerable female domestic workers and female small-scale traders and also enhance the social-economic empowerment of poor women dependent on the informal economy in Nairobi. Overall, Oxfam Kenya and partners contributed to the elimination of poverty and social exclusion of marginalised women within the informal economy in Nairobi urban informal settlements by investing in raising livelihood opportunities and access to social services of women domestic workers and women small traders.
Read more about the Wezesha Jamii project on ourIssuu page. You can also find the baseline survey reports under our publications page.
Increasing women participation and representation in 2017 elections
Through funding from the EU, Oxfam, Youth Agenda and Federation of Lawyers (FIDA) implemented a project aimed at strengthening the capabilities and capacities of 500 women political aspirants to increase their chances of getting elected in the 2017 general elections. This project is worked with 200 opinion leaders with an aim of transforming cultural norms and exclusionary practices that hinder women’s meaningful participation in decision making and competitive political processes. Oxfam and partners linked women leaders at the national level with women at the communities through role modelling and grounding women’s leadership in more inclusive and representative leadership practice.