UNCTAD has released a report showing that 76 percent of women in Kenya are still employed in agriculture.
According to the report, Burundi leads the East African Community countries with 96 percent of its women employed in the agricultural sector.
Rwanda has 84 percent, Tanzania 71 percent while Uganda has 77 percent of women working in agriculture.
The report notes that despite being a shift in the economic activities among the EAC members away from agriculture and towards industry, the shift in the employment structure is still weak.
According to the report, in the EAC, women are predominantly self-employed or are contributing family workers, the two forms of vulnerable employment
Among the self-employed women in EAC, 97 percent of women in Burundi, 73 percent in Kenya, 84 percent in Rwanda, 80 percent in Tanzania, and 83 percent in Uganda are either self-employed or contributing family workers. Women also account for a higher share of informal employment in East Africa.
“Gender equality is not a natural outcome of the development process and there is a need to proactively promote gender equality policies,” said Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi.
For example, the two largest economies in the region – Kenya and Tanzania – registered the highest levels of gender inequality among the five EAC members studied, according to the 2015 edition of the Gender Inequality Index issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Home to 150 million people, the EAC was founded in 2000 by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi joined in 2007, and South Sudan in 2016. The UNCTAD report examines the impact of regional integration and overall trade openness on women’s employment patterns.
Tariff liberalization in the EAC export markets led to an increase in women’s employment share in manufacturing firms in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, while women workers in Burundi were negatively affected. Production workers – those performing simple tasks such as maintenance and assembly line work – benefited the most, with little improvement for women in white-collar jobs.