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Why does a gender pay gap still exist in Kenya’s labour market?

Calmax Omondi


It is a sad reality that the gender gap still exists in Kenya’s job market. A research conducted by Brighter Monday on 100 companies in Kenya in January 2022 revealed that there were 10% more men in high salary brackets than women.

Despite having the same academic qualifications and skills as men, women in Kenya continue to receive low payment as compared to their male counterparts.

Gender gaps in political and corporate leadership, education, and working hours are some of the factors contributing to the gender pay gap in Kenya.

Gender gap in political and corporate leadership

Despite the adoption of two third gender rule in the 2010 constitution, the gender gap is still large in the country’s leadership.

In the just concluded general elections, Kenyans elected 49 women leaders, this was an improvement from the 29 women leaders who were elected in the 2017 elections and 11 women leaders who were elected in the 2013 elections. Despite this improvement, the number is still low as it formed just 13% of the total number of elected leaders in Kenya.

It is 12 years since the new constitution was promulgated but the country is yet to implement the two third gender rule.

Apart from politics, the gap is also evident in the corporate world where a Nation Africa research conducted in 2021 revealed that only four out of 62 companies listed in Nairobi Security Exchange are headed by women. The research went ahead to reveal that these companies have only 23% of women in their various boards of directors.

When more women are elected into various leadership positions, they are likely to fight for gender equality in the workplace and this can lead to a decrease in the gender pay gap in the country.


Gender gap in the higher education centers in Kenya also contributes to the gender pay gap in the country.

According to the economic survey 2021, only 227,605 girls enrolled for higher education in the various universities in 2021 in Kenya as compared to boys who were 334,461.

Despite having a slightly higher number of girls as compared to boys at the early stages of education, those who make it to higher education level remain relatively low.

According to the economic survey 2022, 146,295 out of the 185,634 students who failed to make it to higher education after completing their secondary education were girls. This formed 79% of the total number. Many girls in Kenya, especially those from families with low income fail to make it to higher education level because of early marriages, inadequate funds to cater for their school fees, early pregnancies and other factors that disrupt their education.

Due to this gender gap in the higher learning institutions in Kenya, some women are disadvantaged in the formal job market because they fail to meet the academic qualifications required by the employers in this sector. This can contribute to a large pay gap between men and women.

Working hours

According to the Global Gender Gap report released by the World Economic Forum in July 2022, women lose more working hours than men in general.

The fact that there is a gap in the time spent by men and women at work can also explain why there is a gender pay gap. Gender pay gap in the country does not only affect women but it also has a negative impact on men too.

IMF research Conducted in 2018 revealed that women involvement in the labour force contributes to the increase in male incomes. When the incomes of both male and female workers increase, their purchasing power also increases, creating a good environment for businesses in the country.

Apart from the general rise in wages, female participation in the labour market also contributes to an increase in the country’s GDP. This in turn contributes to the country’s development.

Finally, women have actively taken up the role of breadwinners in various families across the country, women are footing the bills and other expenses in the family. This means that when women stay out of the job market, various families experience financial constraints.

How to solve gender pay gap

To narrow the gender pay gap in the country, the government should step up in its efforts to create gender equality in the labour force. It starts with actually implementing the two third gender rule to narrow the gender gap in the country’s leadership. When more women are elevated to various leadership positions, they will, hopefully, to push for women’s rights and this can reduce the gender pay gap in Kenya.

To reduce the gender gap in higher learning institutions, the government should reduce the minimum grade required by female students to join universities, colleges, and polytechnics. Before education reforms in 2017, girls required slightly lower grades to join universities as compared to boys and this contributed to an increase in the number of girls transitioning from secondary education to tertiary education.

Finally, the difference in working hours that contributes to the gender pay gap in the country should also be dealt with. Government can do this by putting in place regulations that will see corporations create environments that enable smoother child care processes for mothers e.g. nursing rooms, childcare at work, etc. This will benefit women mostly in the private sector who lose income due to unavoidable breaks they take in work.

Calmax Omondi is a Journalism student at the Multimedia University of Kenya.


Marion Mwangangi is a Journalism student at Multimedia University of Kenya. Apart from being a student, she is a professional graphic designer, an SEO expert and a video editor. Email:

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