Constructing Women’s Economic Empowerment Index for Kenya: Determinants of Women’s Economic Empowerment and Micro–Level Estimation

Promotion of women’s empowerment (WEE) is one of the key agendas of governments globally. WEE is widely recognised by governments and businesses around the world as a critical driver of economic growth, a precondition for alleviating poverty, and the foundation for a sustainable future (European Commission, 2016). The economic empowerment of women contributes to women’s human capital formation and the development of human capabilities generally. Additionally, economic empowerment of women is a matter of human rights, and social justice. This was reaffirmed in September 2015 when world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 5, in particular, focuses on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment. Nationally, the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Vision 2030, and the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) III (2018-2022) outline the legal and policy frameworks geared towards promotion of gender equality and gender equity.

In 2020, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with its partners (UNICEF and UN Women) developed and launched the Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) as an approach to women’s empowerment. The WEI covers the national, rural and urban levels only. Thus, it does not report WEE at the county and lower levels. This study aims at furthering the WEI measure at the county and sub-county levels, by producing small area statistics on WEE using international best practices. This index will thus be constructed at the lowest administrative levels of Kenyan counties to facilitate its application in the aggregation of WEE indicators collected from households and individuals. The evidence from the cascaded measure will increase its use at the sub-county levels and thus facilitate disaggregation of WEE indicators. The disaggregated WEE can be constructed for various socioeconomic over time and over space. The study will construct the WEE Index using the key components of WEE and advocate for its widespread use in at least ten counties by 2025.

The study partners include the Ministry of Public Service and Gender (State Department for Gender), The National Treasury and Planning, UN Women and UNICEF.