The UoN Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) hub researchers held a meeting on Wednesday 10th Feb 2021 with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Senior Program Officer-Gender data, Measurement and Evaluation, Ms Diva Dhar. During this meeting, the WEE Hub shared at length the five-year program in terms of the research agenda and which included projects, methodologies, policies for influence among others.
About the Women’s Economic empowerment Hub
The University of Nairobi Women’s Economic Empowerment (UON - WEE) Hub, is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral research and evidence Hub, with the aim of strengthening the generation and use of evidence to advance women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and gender equality in Kenya. The UON- WEE Hub is housed by the African Women Studies Centre in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The purpose is to contribute to evidence-based decision making and implementation of policies and programmes informed by what works for women economic empowerment in Kenya.
The vision of the WEE Hub is the full realization of Women’s Economic Empowerment. The mission of the Hub is to be a thought- leader in producing cutting-edge, innovative, rigorous, and accessible evidence through research for impacting policy formulation, implementation and up-scaling for full realization of women’s empowerment. The Hub has received initial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for its work programme for the period 2020-2025.
The Hub’s overall strategy includes: (i) evaluating what works to promote WEE (ii) disseminating generated evidence (iii) advocating for evidence uptake and (iv) supporting existing institutions in the evidence ecosystem and providing technical assistance to build capacity for evidence generation and use.
By 2025 the Hubs activities are expected to contribute to: (i) increased growth of women's enterprises in various counties; (ii) Increased participation of women in employment (iii) Increased participation of women in workplace through reduced women's unpaid care work; and; (iv) Policymakers educated on how to support WEE. These results are being achieved through the strategies and activities of the Hub, on initiatives for what works (IWW-WEE) to improve programs and policies promoting participation of women in the economy and the women economic empowerment in general.
Working with partners and collaborators in the space of women economic empowerment, the Key functions of the Hub are to: be thought leader in four thematic work areas including: Affirmative Action Funds and entrepreneurship; Women in formal and informal employment; Child care and women’s work; and Women’s movement and policy advocacy for WEE. Drawing from a multi-disciplinary team of scholars in economics, women’s studies, law, business studies and development studies, the hub is producing foundation research to understand what matters for women’s economic empowerment and understand pathways that enable women’s work. The Hub therefore provides expertise to policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders in these thematic areas.
Under the ‘Affirmative Action funds and Entrepreneurship’ thematic area, the Hub is evaluating various affirmative action funds being implemented by the government of Kenya including: Women Enterprise Fund (WEF); Youth Enterprise Development Fund Board (YEDFB), Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), Micro small and Medium enterprises (MSEA) Fund and the recently established Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) to assist Medium scale and Small Enterprises’ recovery from the impacts of Covid- 19 pandemic. With regards to these funds, the Hub in addition to evaluating their impacts on women is also analyzing what works to better realize the implementation and objectives of the specific funds. The Hub is also working with partners to incubate women businesses and carry out training to enhance women business growth.
Under the ‘women in formal and informal employment’ thematic area, the Hub is evaluating the implementation of employment laws and their provisions with regards to their impact on women working in formal, informal and in the gig economy including with regards to women’s access and participation in decent employment and access social protection. The Hub’s work further involves evaluation of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government stimulus package on women’s employment and entrepreneurship. Through social, gender and legal analysis, under this cluster of work, the Hub is identifying areas of the laws and policies that need to be changed to facilitate WEE, and advocate for their amendments to promote WEE.
With regards to ‘child care and women’s work’ thematic area, the Hub is working with partners to evaluate the impact of government policies and initiatives on participation of women in employment and in cross border trade and testing what works to enhance better participation of women in these market spaces. The Hub is analyzing maternity leave and breastfeeding policies on women participation in the workplace. It is also analyzing the impacts of the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) initiative on small scale women’s businesses in cross border trade and testing whether a child care facility improves participation and productivity of women in cross-border trade. In addition, government budgetary allocation to key sectors that affect women’s work will be analyzed, with a few to promoting increased budgetary allocations to child care and early childhood education, health and water, so as to reduce the burden of women on unpaid care work, hence enhancing their participation in the market activities.
The Hub’s work with regards to ‘women's movement and policy advocacy for women’s economic empowerment’ involves evaluating the effect of women’s self-mobilization through grassroots associations and the national women’s movement for women’s economic empowerment. The Hub is evaluating the strategies used by women’s movement in the making of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and identifying how these strategies can be upscaled to promote and advocate for WEE. The Strategies that worked in the making of the Constitution will be used to strengthen women’s movement to advocate for WEE, mobilize women leaders to own the evidence generated by the Hub and to advocate for implementation and up-scaling of AGPO, child care models, Women Enterprise Fund and Youth Fund, Micro and Small Enterprise Act (MSEA). The strategies will also be used to advocate for change on labor laws and budgetary allocation through relevant institutions, and in enhancing women’s organizations at national and county levels to own the WEE agenda and self-mobilize even after 2025.