Data Hub

Kenya making only modest progress in closing gender gap

Global Gender Gap Report
The Global Gender Gap Report was introduced in 2006 by the WEF to measure gender disparities and record progress. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya has recorded a modest improvement in the key indicators used to measure gender gap, according to a report released last month by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The latest figures from the WEF shows that the progress being made to reduce the gender gap in economic participation, education attainment, access to health and political representation is slow.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 ranks Kenya 76 globally in closing the gender gap, maintaining last year's position. The 2017 performance was a drop from 63 that was attained in 2016.

Progress was registered in three key pillars while the country recorded a further drop in education attainment. Compared to last year's 44, Kenya ranked 37 in closing the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

Kenya's economic participation and opportunity gap has shrunk because of increased women's presence in senior positions and technical work.

According to report by the Kenya Institute of Management, women account for 26 percent of management positions in Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed companies. In addition, the report says that 21 percent of board members in listed companies are women.

The other indicators that the country recorded an improvement in include health and survival and political empowerment ranking one and 82 respectively.

According to the report, women in Kenya are underrepresented in the education attainment indicator. The country slid from position 120 globally to 122, a further drop from 116 that was recorded in 2016.

Despite Kenya’s slow progress in closing the gender gap, the report reveals that the country is better than average in all the key scores.

In the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region, Rwanda (6) and Namibia (10) are the most gender-equal countries based on the four measures.

Neighbouring countries including Burundi (31) Uganda (43) and Tanzania (71) are ahead of Kenya. Other countries doing well in the region are Zimbabwe (47), Mozambique (49), Botswana (55), Cameroon (57) and Cape Verde (72).

In the top 10 global slots, European countries took half while Rwanda and Namibia were the only African countries. The others are Nicaragua (South America), Philippines (Asia), New Zealand (Pacific).

Iceland is ranked top while Norway and Sweden are following in positions two and three respectively. Finland follows at position 4, Nicaragua (5), Rwanda (6), New Zealand (7), Philippines (8) and Ireland (9). At number 10, Namibia has joined the global top 10 list for 2018.

“Namibia (10) climbs three spots and newly enters the Index’s global top 10 list for the first time—the second country from the sub-Saharan Africa region to do so, after Rwanda. It has closed nearly 79 percent of its overall gender gap, an improvement of more than 10 percent since the first edition of the Index in 2006,” the report says.

The country has made significant improvements in political inclusion, where it ranks fifth globally and health and survival gap.

The other top performer in SSA region is Rwanda, which, despite staying at the top 10 list, was unable to make progress in economic participation listing.

“Rwanda’s (six) steady multi-year climb since entering the Index comes to a halt for the first time, with the country falling two places due to a widening gender gap on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, driven by a fall in women’s estimated earned income, professional and technical workers, and wage equality for similar work,” the report says.

Globally, the WEF says the world has only closed 68 percent of gender gap and this year a slight improvement has been seen after the gap widened for the first time in 2017’s report.

At the current pace, the report notes that it will take up to 202 years to close the gender gap completely.

Only six countries have been able to close 50 percent of their gender gap since the inception of the report in 2006. According to WEF, the six countries are Nicaragua, Norway, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Finland and Sweden.

The Global Gender Gap Report was introduced in 2006 by the WEF to measure gender disparities and record progress.