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Press Release: Women Workers, Unite!


A Call to the End of All Forms of Violence against Women in the Informal Work Sector in Kenya.

While everyone has the right to decent work, a living wage and equal pay, obstacles in society and the global economy still prevent women and other marginalised people from fully enjoying these rights. Women working in the informal sector, such as street vendors, domestic and home-based workers receive little or no employment benefits and are even more susceptible to violence.

In Kenya, much of the work performed by women at home and in the informal workspace is not recognised as actual work and is therefore considered of no economic value despite its contribution to the wheels of production. The existing legal framework does not squarely recognize the work of women in the informal sector in the country and this translates to the lack of proper social protection mechanisms to cover these women, who constitute over 70% of the workers in the informal sector.

Today, representatives of women’s movements and civil society in partnership with ActionAid launch the Kenya Chapter of a joint global campaign aimed at calling on all stakeholders to stop harassment and all forms of violence targeted to women workers in the informal sector. The campaign sets to unite the voices of all women working in the informal sector in Kenya to call to attention the recognition of their existence and the impact the work they do has on our country’s economy.

Drawn from intensive community consultation with women workers from the informal sectors across the country, among the issues raised as violations they face include

  • Unfair pay. Women workers in the informal sectors report to receiving less pay than their male counterparts for the same type and amount of work done. This is not only unjust but it also undermines their contribution to the economy.
  • Lack of social protection policies that cover women working in the informal sector. For those formally employed, social protection plans like the National Hospital Insurance Fund and the Nasional Social Security Fund are statutory but no law stipulates this for women workers in the informal sector. This puts them at a disadvantage in accessing services like healthcare.
  • Minimum wage. Currently, the minimum wage payable to all workers is KES 13,500(USD135) per month but not all employers in the informal sector adhere to this.
  • Sexual and gender-based violence in the workplace. Gender-based violence remains one of the most tolerated violations of workers’ human rights. According to statistics, 35% of women - 818 million women globally - over the age of 15 have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace. Yet there is still no law at the international level that sets a baseline for countries to taking action in to eradicate violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, in the world of work

As part of the joint Global Campaign on Women’s Labour, Decent Work and Public Services by the ActionAid Federation, ActionAid Kenya and partners are committed to supporting the global unions’ push for the adoption, ratification and implementation of an ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender-Based Violence in the world of work.

“We would like to contribute towards the convention’s adoption by June 2019, ratification by at least 10 countries and supported by employers by the end of 2020. We have initiated a massive petition-signing drive that shall serve as vehicle for education and an instrument for pressure and lobby. We aim to gather at least 50,000 signatures in support of this,” said Everjoice Win, ActionAid’s Director of Programmes and Global Engagement .

In order for the informal work environment in Kenya to adequately support the livelihoods of women in the informal sector and their contribution to the economy, it is required that the State through the local and county governments must meet their responsibilities to provide public services such as water, health, elder and child care to lessen women’s burden of care and domestic work.

The three-year campaign hopes to bring together a movement of women workers in the informal sector to voice their demands through institutionalized spaces that will see an end of harassment and violence in all its kind targeted towards the women.

For more information, interviews and additional quotes,  please contact Naomi Senda| Communications Manager, ActionAid Kenya| +254710493636