Data Hub

Why it’s hard to measure gender-financing impact in Kenya’s equity agenda

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Lorraine Wilson waits for buyers on Nyerere Road in Mombasa on October 14, 2020. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NMG

Women’s and girl’s economic empowerment holds the key to Kenya realising a middle-income status by 2030, through industrialisation.

Under Vision 2030, the government seeks to expand women access to financial services. It also aims to promote their enterprises through the implementation of a 30 per cent public procurement preference for women as well as through the Uwezo Fund and Women Enterprise Fund.

Kenya being a signatory of the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5), is mandated to empower women through investments.

Tracking financial flows and impacts on gender-equity programmes are therefore imperative.

But, the Covid-19 pandemic slammed brakes on donor funding, cutting billions of financial aid amid tough economic times.

Therefore, reliable data on project funding and effectiveness is crucial.

Due to data shortages, it is, however, hard to tell whether they are benefiting from them.

This is something that key gender equality stakeholders such as women’s rights organisations (WROs) as well as Kenya-based NGOs are not happy about.

Others include international NGOs, donor agencies, national governments, sub-national governments, research institutes and a feminist or women’s fund.

A study that was conducted by Friend of Publish What You Fund: Gender Financing in Kenya showed that more than half of key stakeholders working on gender equality are dissatisfied with the amount and quality of publicly available financial and programmatic data on gender equality work in Kenya.

“For these groups, the main reasons for dissatisfaction included data issues around insufficient detail, insufficient gender-disaggregation, timeliness (old data), and conflicting information between data sources,” the report adds.

The study, which was conducted in three countries — Kenya, Nepal, and Guatemala — involved 29 respondents from key stakeholders working on gender equality.

Without access to quality data that clearly outlines where funding goes, the report notes it is difficult for stakeholders to find gaps, plan and implement programmes to address gender inequality in Kenya.

“It is important to note that the differences in opinion are often symptomatic of data publishers (for example, donors and government) and users (for example, Kenya-based NGOs and WROs) not collaborating around data,” it adds.

Kenya has been promoting gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) to ensure gender-equitable distribution of resources.

These are done through the National Policy on Gender and Development as well as government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“The National Treasury publishes budgets for each fiscal year on its website in PDF format, and the Office of the Controller of Budget hosts all national budget implementation review reports. However, many MDAs do not signpost their budget allocations as GRB, nor do they say how their funds support the National Policy on Gender and Development,” the report adds.

As a result, it notes that it is difficult to paint a comprehensive picture of government funding that supports gender equality commitments.

“With the current application of GRB, it is only possible to track national funding towards key gender equality institutions in Kenya and their programmes, and a few adjacent initiatives.”

The State Department for Gender makes disbursements to the National Government Affirmative Action Fund, Uwezo Fund and Women Enterprise Fund for gender equality to address disparities in access to education, poverty eradication, and sexual and gender-based violence.

The NGEC and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also implement programmes on legal compliance and redress, public education, advocacy, and implementing constitutional provisions on human rights and awareness-raising on gender equality and women’s rights, it notes.

“Nevertheless, due to the current approach to budget reporting and the lack of disaggregation in reporting on budget allocations and executions, it is impossible to track financing responding to priority policy areas such as land, housing, environment, and agriculture among others,” says the report.

“It also makes it difficult to capture initiatives that partially address gender equality such as Kazi Mtaani (an initiative introduced in 2020 as part of the government’s economic stimulus package in response to Covid-19) and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund.”

For example, out of $31 billion (Sh3.2 trillion) total budget for Kenya’s national gender financing 2020/21, only 0.3 per cent was allocated to key gender equality institutions and initiatives. Only $4 million (Sh429.8 million) has been allocated to the National Gender and Equality Commission, State Department for Gender $32 million (Sh3.4 billion), Ministry of Health (including reproductive and maternal healthcare) $41 million (Sh4.4 billion).

Thus, total traceable gender equality funding is $81 million.

Therefore, the available gender financing data offers a starting point to track funding to various gender equality priorities, the report notes.

Already, the Treasury hosts an open Aid Information Management System called e-ProMIS, which is a database that captures information on internationally funded projects implemented by ministries, State corporations and counties.

“Currently, the e-ProMIS platform does not allow users to filter aid projects by a GRB or OECD-DAC gender marker. Due to inconsistencies in basic project-level information across databases, this means the e-ProMIS platform cannot easily be used to complement, validate, or dispute other gender financing data for Kenya.”

To promote transparency, the report recommends publication of financial and programmatic data on gender equality initiatives in Kenya are critical for measuring impact, informing programme design, and planning gender-responsive budgets and commitments across all organizational types.

“Clearer data on what activities are being implemented, by whom, who they are targeting (including specific population groups), and how much is being spent, would not only help different stakeholders complement each other’s gender work, but would also aid understanding of the development outcomes and impact these activities are making towards achieving gender equality in Kenya and ultimately, SDG 5.”