Social Economic Status Of Women In Kenya

Men and women tend to have different social-economic profiles within an economy. The reason for the difference is due to the position they occupy, activities they engage in and their overall economic status.

In this regard, economic growth and development will not obviously benefit men and women equally. Gender inequality acts as a constraint to growth and poverty reduction as evidenced by emerging macro-economic analysis on Africa

Inequality is much more pronounced in access to a wide range of economic, human and social capital assets that comprises key poverty dimensions in Africa

Factors that have over the ages contributed to gender inequality comprise: –

Cultural biases

Exclusion of women in decision making hierarchy

Social biases

Economic deprivation

Education biases

Disparity in job and employment opportunities

Noted recent positive changes: –

Cultural aspect:

Today, a great many women are able to raise funds for businesses among themselves without necessarily depending on their menfolk (husbands, fathers)

Politically:

There are currently many women at the high lever echelon of the hierarchy in the society who have the capacity to influence decisions including financial decisions that affect women both directly and indirectly.

Socially:

Social Support Systems and structures in the communities have continued to change to greatly accommodate women voice in the society.

Economically:

Women active participation in economic development in the country has in the recent past gain momentum.

Today for the women folk, individuals, welfare groups, business groups, business clubs, companies owned by women, cooperatives, Sacco’s and micro-finance groups and associations have immensely cultivated a sense of ownership among the women in general.

Women business activities especially in the rural areas have had tremendous transformative effect on the community grass root economies.

A great many women today individually, in groups or in companies have one type of collateral  or the other. The collateral range from land titles , houses , company shares , treasury bills /bonds , bank savings  and deposits .

Many women entrepreneurs are presently in fore front in the running of sizeable family businesses.  In certain cases have their own small and/or medium size enterprises others are now engaged in import and export businesses.

Astonishingly, there is today a large number of women leaving employment, even well-paying jobs to go and start their own small and medium businesses in both rural and urban areas.

In August 2013 edition of the Magazine entitled Small Medium Enterprises Today, the Writer says and I quote:

“Some decisions are the hallmark of courage and cannot be made by the faint hearted.  How one might wonder, does someone wake up one day and decide to walk away from a senior management position in a blue chip company to chase a vague dream? More importantly, how does one quit a secure job with a salary of over US$5,883 (presently Kshs. 500,000/-) and lots of benefits to venture into a business that largely depends on sorghum, a traditional crop that has distinctly been gravitating towards extinction.

This, to most people, might not make a lot of sense but it was exactly what Rose Mutuku did some time in 2009.” End of quote

Mrs. Mutuku, the Managing Director of Smart Logistics Solutions Limited says and I quote:

“I quit a well-paying job to start a business that can EMPOWER rural communities and become a formidable power in raw material supply.” End of quote

Existing Socio-Economic opportunities for women Entrepreneurs:

Microfinance Industry:

Kenya Microfinance industry began around 1990’s. The core mission of the industry was to fill an important financial gap that was then not being addressed by the country commercial banks and other financial houses.

The industry which began with a primary focus of extending microcredit to the poor and the low income earners, has now expanded to encompass the provision of broader range of financial services including credit, savings, money transfer and insurance services.

The Microfinance industry also involves provision of non-financial services, including training, marketing, managerial and technical services.

Over the last 30 years, a wide range of microfinance institutions (MFI

  1. s) have emerged, serving hundreds of millions of clients globally and empowering them to work their way out of poverty.

Today, the Microfinance Industry reaches out to more than 6.5 Million poor and middle class families with financial services, majority of the clients being women.