IMPEDIMENTS TO WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN SOCIO-ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES IN DADAAB SUB-COUNTY OF GARISSA COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
This study focused on impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub-County of Garissa County, Kenya. A review of literature on women’s participation in socio-economic activities revealed that women’s participation in these activities has remained substantially low despite the many campaigns globally aimed at improving their participation. The study examined common areas of women’s participation in socio-economic activities; analyzed the level of women’s participation in socio-economic activities and assessed the impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub-county. Social Feminist and Rational Choice Theories were used to explain the marginalization and social structures that women must confront in their attempt to participation in social economic activities in society, and the considerations that women participants in socio-economic activities have to make respectively. This was a descriptive survey study, which engaged 176 women respondents selected through stratified random sampling. This study used interview schedule in data collection, which was then cleaned, coded and analysed using descriptive statistics, and presented in tables and figures. The socio-economic activities that women participated in were formal employment, business, farming; community based organizational activities, self-help activities, management of local schools and local political activities, with business attracting most of their participation. However, the level of women’s participation in these activities was substantially low, given the less influential positions held by most of them in these activities. Women faced various impediments to their participation in socio-economic activities, which included those relating to their marital status, level of education, family support and access to credit facilities. Most of these impediments were largely products of deeply rooted patriarchy that have denied women education and significant recognition. The present study has shade light on the socio- economic activities under which women find themselves; the study hopes will broaden our understanding of women’s participation in socio-economic activities. In view of this, this study has recommended for the need for women to come together through self-help approach to establish a revolving fund to reduce over-dependence on traditional financial institutions for credit. This study has recommended for further study to be done on the women’s coping mechanisms given that some of them had effective participation in socio-economic activities despite the numerous impediments to their participation.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
This study focused on impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub- county of Garissa County, Kenya. Participation refers to an active process by which a person or groups of people influence the direction and execution of developmental issues for purposes of among others enhancing not only their well being but also that of the society in general (Hardina, 2003). People’s participation in local development as a concept was formulated in the 1970s following the growing concern that the various approaches then employed for grassroots development- community development, integrated rural development or basic needs approach- were not realizing meaningful and sustainable results (Burton, 2003).The failures of these approaches were largely attributed to apathy on the part of the local people due to their little or lack of involvement and participation in local development issues (Schafft and Greenwood, 2003).

While enumerating the benefits of community participation in local development, (UNDP (2000) observed over two decades ago that involvement of local people and their subsequent participation in local development helps tap the energies and resources of individual citizens, while providing a source of special insight, information, knowledge and experience, which contribute to the soundness of community solutions. Within the field of development, community participation in local socio-economic activities is advocated as a means of promoting local ownership of development agenda, by challenging local people to define their own problems, create their own solutions, and initiate change through their own involvement (INEE, 2004).

Women account for about 43% of the world’s population. Precisely there are approximately 57 million more men women than women in the world, yet in most countries, there are more women than men. However, women’s participation in socio-economic activities remain far much below that of men. Low women’s participation in socio-economic activities has contributed not only to their poverty but also to poverty in the entire society (Morrison and Jutting, 2004). It is on this basis that several efforts at the international level have been made to increase women’s participation in socioeconomic activities. For instance, the UNDP (2013) urged the world to help improve women’s participation in socio-economic activities as doing so would not only help in the improvement of women’s wellbeing but also that of the entire society. Prior to this, The World’s Conference on Women held in 1995 in Beijing implored society to among others accord women the necessary support to enable them realize their potentials in all spheres of life. Further, in the aftermath of the Millennium Declaration of the September 2000 Millennium Summit, gender issues were integrated in the many of the subsequent MDG and explicitly in the third goal, which calls for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women. There is no doubt that the achievement of this goal is only possible in an environment where women’s participation is high.

Women constitute roughly half of the population of the world and thus potentially half of its participants in socio-economic activities. However, women’s participation in socio-economic activities is still lower despite many efforts at both the national and international levels to spar their participation in socio-economic activities. For instance, globally the average women’s labour participation is just about 30% compared to over 80% for men (ILO, 2010). Women’s participation in labour is lowest in Latin America at 45% and highest in the Pacific at 72%, with their participation in labour in Africa standing at 60%.

However, women’s participation appears to be worse in the political sphere. Women’s participation (measured by the number of elected and appointive legislative positions held by women) is significantly lower than that of men since on average only 21.4% of the legislative seats globally are held by women, implying that men hold over 75% of the legislative positions in the world. Women’s participation in this area is highest in the Nordic countries where they hold about 42.1% of the positions. Sub-Saharan Africa has just about 21.8% of the legislative seats held by women. This is, however, better than the Arab countries, Asia and the Pacific where women hold just a mere 15.9%, 17.7% and 15.9% of the legislative seats respectively (IPU, 2013). Rwanda remains the only country in the world where women hold a higher (63.8%) number of legislative positions than men. The share of women among ministers also averages 17%. The highest positions are even more elusive: only 7 of 150 elected Heads of State in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 Heads of Government are women (The World’s Women, 2010).

In Kenya, women’s participation in labour, legislative institutions and decision making (ministerial level and senior civil service cadre) still remain below that of men. About 60% of women in Kenya are participating in labour compared to about 85% for men. Women in Kenya occupy less than 20% of legislative positions. The same trend is obtained in ministerial positions as well as senior management positions in both public and private sectors (UN, 2010: ILO, 2010; IPU, 2013).Women’s low participation in socio-economic activities persists despite the fact that they constitute over half of Kenya’s population and about 48% of the registered electorates. Although a significant number of women appear to be in labour market, closer examination reveals that most of the women are concentrated in low-paying and low social status jobs in the public service in terms of income and decision making powers. The concentration of women decreases with the increase of the level of the job group (Nzomo, 1995). In that case, only a small percentage of women compared to men are in key positions to make and influence decisions in the public service.

Consequently, it is clear that women’s participation in socio-economic activities has remained substantially low despite the many campaigns globally aimed at improving their participation, thus suggesting the need for an examination of the impediments faced by that contributed to their low participation in socio-economic activities. According to Kenya Constitution (2010) records the importance of promoting gender equality and equity generally and facilitate gender mainstreaming in national development; it also stipulates that not more than two thirds of the same gender of the county assembly or county executive committees. It is within this background that the researcher sought to establish issues that hinder women participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab County as well as as well as in other parts of the county.

Statement of the Problem
In Kenya, women accounts for slightly over half of the country’s population thereby potentially becoming a critical participant in national development. However, women’s participation in socio-economic activities still remains low despite their numerical superiority in the country. Nationally, women’s participation in labour, legislative institutions and decision making positions stands at about 60%, 18% and 17% respectively, compared to over 85%, 82% and 83% respectively for men in the same areas. Women’s participation in these areas in Daadab Sub-County is even much lower given that the region has traditionally remained marginalized since independence. Sadly, however, efforts at the national and international levels to boost women’s participation in socio-economic activities have yielded very little (if any) given the aforementioned rates of women participation in various areas. This has raised concerns as to what exactly is undermining women’s participation in socio- economic activities in Kenya generally and Daadab Sub-County in particular. Although scholars have hailed the potential of women’s participation in socio-economic activities to local development, and have thus implored on society to accord women’s opportunity to participate in local development, there is concern that such effort may not yield much if impediments to women’s participation in these areas is not understood. It is out of this concern that this study focused on the impediments to women’s participation in socio- economic activities in Dadaab Sub-County of Garissa County, Kenya.

Objectives of the Study
This section has both broad and specific objectives. Both are outlined below;

Broad Objective
The broad objective of this study was to explore the impediments to women participation in socio-economic activities Dadaab Sub-County of Garissa County, Kenya.

Specific Objectives
This study was guided by the following specific objectives:

i. To examine common areas of women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub- County of Garissa County, Kenya

ii. To analyze the level of women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub County of Garissa County, Kenya

iii. To assess the impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub county of Garissa County, Kenya

Research Questions
The study sought answers to the following research questions:

i. What are some of the common areas of women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub-County of Garissa County, Kenya?

ii. What are the levels of women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub County of Garissa County, Kenya?

iii. Which are some of the impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub County of Garissa County, Kenya?

Justification of the Study
The fact that women constitute a larger population in Kenya calls for a closer examination of their experiences in all spheres of life with their participation in socio-economic activities being no exception. Women’s voices on critical issues thus far have remained minimal. There is need to document women’s experiences including impediments to their participation in socio-economic activities. It is the hope that findings of this study would contribute to the development of programs that help boost women’s participation in socio-economic activities, especially in Dadaab Sub-County and other parts of the country where women’s participation in socio-economic activities is undermined by similar impediments.

First, women have often been criticized as being own enemies to their progress. However, this study has established that such criticisms have not taken a holistic appraisal of women’s socio-economic environment more so hindrances to their participation in socio-economic activities. The present study has shade some light on the socio-economic under which women find themselves; a move that the study hopes will broaden our understanding of women’s participation in socio-economic activities and thus enable us criticize them from a point of knowledge.

Second, although examining other aspects of local development was desirable, understanding impediments to women’s participation in socio-economic activities was considered essential, more so at a time when local communities are increasingly being considered as the focal point of socioeconomic development. The success of governance structures such as devolution will depend in large part on effective participation of local communities. As already mentioned earlier, women constitute a significant portion of Kenya’s population at all levels. Therefore understanding impediments to women’s participation will go a long way in developing their capacities and thus preparing them to effectively and meaningfully participate in local development including those under flagship of devolved programs.

Lastly, this study made recommendations to the policy makers to guide in strengthening women’s participation in socio-economic activities. This study noted with sadness that despite the existence of numerous regulatory and policy safeguards for women, especially those that relate to their involvement and participation in local socio-economic and even political activities, there was no coherent and deliberate efforts toward their implementation; a situation that contributes to women’s low participation in the anticipated areas. This study has recommended for the full implementation of these policies and regulations in addition to sensitizing women as well the society in general about their constitutional and legal rights to participation socio-economic activities.

Scope and Limitation of the study
This study limited itself to women’s participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub- county of Garissa County, Kenya. Thematically, the current study confined itself to women as its primary respondents, with records available about women’s participation in socio-economic activities in the Dadaab Sub-County as its secondary sources of information. Socio-economic activities women were involved in, levels of their involvement/participation in these activities and impediments faced by women, and which undermined their participation in these activities was the main focus of this study.

This study focused on formal and informal gainful employment, income generating activities, collective action/welfare groups and leadership positions held by women in both political and organizational establishments as the socio-economic activities women participated in. With regard to level of participation, the present study limited itself to the planning, operation and monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub- County. This study restricted itself to social and cultural issues that undermined women’s effective participation in socio-economic activities in Dadaab Sub-county.

Women in Dadaab Sub-County do not live in one area and hence, collecting data from respondents who are spread all over the sub-county was laborious. That had both time and cost implications. While wide spread of women in the sub- County to some extent hampered effective data collection, this study instituted some measures to contain the anticipated limitations arising from this. The study indentified and deployed adequate research assistants to collect data from respondents closer to them. This significantly reduced distances covered by particular research assistants during data collection.

Cultural practices of the communities in Dadaab Sub-county discourage close and prolonged interactions between members of different gender also to a lesser extent hindered faster collection of data. This forced the researcher to consider only female research assistants, and whose movements were also restricted implied that data collection took longer than earlier anticipated and only during the day.

Lack of availability of secondary sources of data, particularly the lack of time series data on women’s socio-economic activities and performances limited the portrayal of women’s past participation, which could have given a deeper insight into the future projections. This study addressed this limitation by confining itself to women’s socio-economic activities that were four years old prior to the current study.

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