The Coronavirus global crisis has affected every aspect of people’s livelihoods, incomes and social life (IASC, 2020; Owino 2020). To slow down the spread and mitigate the devastating impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenya Government put in place a gamut of containment measures among them, closure of educational institutions and travel restrictions. The effects of the two measures on WEE are the focus of this study. The aim is to measure impacts of school closures and travel restrictions on specific WEE indicators in education, hospitality and tourism sectors. The evidence generated can be used to design and implement policies to protect or enhance women’s economic empowerment in times of crisis.
The main objective of the study is to measure gendered impacts of school closures and travel restrictions on women’s economic empowerment in selected industries. The study will employ a longitudinal and cross-sectional research design. In the education sector, the unit of analysis will be a school and in the hospitality and tourism industries the unit of analysis will be a business enterprise. In schools, the performance (empowerment) indicators on which data will be collected include test scores, school dropouts, and transition rates. Data on these indicators will be collected for each school for two time periods – the pre-COVID-19 period (2019) and the COVID-19 period (March 2020-July 2021). Large random samples (approx. 1,200 schools) at primary and secondary learning levels will be obtained from a list of primary and secondary schools across all Kenyan counties. Comparable samples in all counties will be collected for business enterprises in hospitality and tourism industries over the two-year period using a list of business establishments as the sampling frame. The performance (empowerment) indicators at the enterprise level will include employment levels (by gender), sales, production levels, and working capital.
The key determinant of performance in schools will be the school closure, in tourism and hospitality industries the determinant of performance will be travel restrictions due to Covid-19. Since the study design allows collection of longitudinal data, panel data estimators will be used to measure effects of the two policy measures on economic empowerment indicators by gender. For example, it will be possible to show whether the school closures affected performance of girls more than that of boys or whether the dropout rates differed by gender. A similar analysis will be done for effects of travel restrictions in tourism and hospitality industries.
The study design is driven by two hypotheses. The first is that the school performance was affected predominantly by school closures rather than by other measures implemented at the same time (e.g., curfews, and cash transfers or tax reliefs). If this hypothesis is true, a predicted school level performance indicator (such as a test score) will be strongly correlated with the number of months the school was closed (or open) in each time period and in both periods. More importantly, this direct correlation will be statistically significant.
A cross-correlation between travel restrictions and test scores can also be investigated. This is possible because schools and business enterprises are located in the same sampling clusters. Thus, the cluster level number of months not worked (or worked) in an enterprise (due to movement restrictions), can be linked to a predicted test score for the school located in that cluster. If the cross correlation between the number of work-months at an enterprise and the predicted test score at a school is statistically significant, doubt is cast on the first hypothesis. For the first hypothesis to hold, the cross-correlation should be statistically insignificant, conditional on significance of the direct correlation. If the first hypothesis fails, the coefficient on the test score is assumed to be due to all or to a subset of the policy measures implemented during the Covid-19 period. The test for the second hypothesis, i.e., performance of tourism and hospitality industries was affected mainly by travel restrictions will be conducted similarly.
The expected outcome is that at least four gender responsive policies are implemented to protect women and communities against sudden adverse socio-economic shocks related to pandemics by 2025. The partners for this project include the Ministries of Education, and Tourism and Wildlife. The other collaborator is EMERGE (Evidence-based Measures of Empowerment for Research on Gender Equality) at the University of California San Diego.