Article 27 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 stipulates the right to equal treatment between men and women in political, economic, cultural, and social spheres. In addition to this Section 5(5) of the Employment Act, 2007 details the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value, between men and women; this is referred to as gender pay equity.
It is evident from several studies that have been conducted, that gender pay equity, has proved difficult to achieve in most countries in the world, Kenya included resulting in gender pay gap. To mitigate the effects of the gender-pay gap, it is imperative to evaluate provisions in the law, in order to discover whether they strengthen or limit the gender pay equity principle.
Women have been fighting a long battle for equal rights and trying to bridge the gender pay gap is a crucial step in achieving it. The International Equal Pay Day is observed annually to highlight this issue. It is a United Nations-recognized event that falls on September 18. The symbolic day aims at highlighting issues related to gender pay gap and raising worldwide awareness. The main aim of the event is to end the history of gender discrimination that women are generally subjected to by getting paid less than their male counterparts.
International Equal Pay Day: History
International Equal Pay Day was first observed back in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity. It was a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations that worked toward eliminating gender and race-based wage discrimination.
Kenyan Legislative Framework.
Notably, in terms of gender equality, Article 27 of the Constitution, 2010 provides for the right to equal treatment between men and women in political, economic, cultural, and social spheres, while Article 41 states that every worker has the right to fair remuneration.1
In addition to this Section 5(5) of the Employment Act, 2007 details the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value.
In Kenya, gender disparities are evident in various sectors inter alia property ownership and inheritance, matrimonial property retention in divorce, right to bury the spouse, elected and nominated positions in politics2 and in respect of employment opportunities.3
A research conducted by Equileap in partnership with the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in respect of all sixty-one public listed companies in Kenya, indicates that Kenya’s average score in gender equality in the workplace is 26%4, with women earning 32% less than men. Also, 2020 Human Development Report (HDR) indicates that, while Kenyan men earned an estimated gross income (GNI) of $4,829 women earned $3,666.32. 5
Employers in all sectors benefit by providing equal pay. It is not just a legal requirement under the Article 27 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 but also an important step towards a fairer Society.
In Kenya the gender pay disparity is significant especially in the top management when Male executives earn more than females. Is it better negotiation skills or a bias against women at the workplace?
1Article 27 (3), the Constitution of Kenya (2010)
2 Kameri- Mbote P, ‘Fallacies of Equality and inequality multiple exclusions in law and legal discourses’ International Environmental Law Research Centre, 2013, 15-21 – http://www.ielrc.org/content/w1301.pdf
3 Muchangi D, Kerre F and Kalei A, ‘Impact of Kenyan New Labour Laws On Gender Disparities In Industrial Occupations In Kenyan Organizations and The Respective Trade Unions’ 3 International Journal Of Economics 7, Commerce And Management, United Kingdom July 2015, , on 25 July, 2019. http://ijecm.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/3725.pdf
4 Gender Equality in Kenya Assessing 60 leading companies on workplace equality https://equileap.com/wpcontent/uploads/2019/11/Gender-equality-in-Kenya_Special-report-by-Equileap.pdf. on 13 August 2021
5 The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, Human Development Report, 2020, page 5