Situational analysis of women’s livelihoods in Tharaka Nithi County reveals constraints to gainful livelihoods for women

The Tharaka Nithi County Government has initiated women-specific projects and programmes with the view to empowering them economically. Examples of such programmes include the crèche at Chuka Open Air Market located in Chuka Town, which is the largest town in the County. Legal frameworks are key to success of government supported programmes, projects and policies. The crèche programme in Tharaka Nithi County is currently not anchored on any legal framework. This study provides evidence that can be used by the county government to formulate childcare policies and legal frameworks and thus facilitate implementation of child care centers throughout the County.
There is no empirical evidence on the link between childcare and women’s empowerment in the County. This study provides information that will be used by the KU WEE Hub in collaboration with Tharaka Nithi County Government to design and implement crèches on a pilot basis and evaluate their impacts on women’s labour force participation, child development and women’s health before these day childcare centers can be made available to all the mothers in the County
From the study findings, some of the constraints to gainful livelihoods for women include:
Childbearing at young ages: Some young women in the area bore children at very tender ages, resulting to school drop outs. Many dropped out of school so as to be able to take care of their children. As a result, their low education attainment, has continuously limited their livelihood options.
Unpaid Domestic work and child rearing resulting into increased child care burden: Many women, are solely responsible for taking care of children and domestic chores without the help of family members or relatives. This is compounded by the lack of crèche services in localities. As a result of the child care burden on women, they have limited time to concentrate on viable economic ventures to improve their livelihoods.
Early Marriages with parental consent: The study observes that there were women who were married off at tender ages as a result of parental consent. Many women slightly above the age of eighteen had started their families and many had either dropped out of school or not proceeded to higher levels of education due to child bearing and rearing. This ultimately limits their livelihood options affecting their livelihood outcomes.
Gender Based Violence: Intimate Partner Violence was observed in some households. This was evidenced by how traumatized the affected women were, and by the physical manifestation of the abuse. When abuse happens, the women are not able to be present at their workstations and are not able to be fully productive. This has cumulatively reduced the gains by intervention programmes on women economic empowerment in the Ward.

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