Business / News
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:50 EATlmakena@kenyafreepress.com
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has today launched the first ever Women in Manufacturing Programme in Kenya - a mentorship and networking platform aimed at increasing the participation of women in the manufacturing sector as part of the drive to industrialize for a stable and sustainable economic future.
The event, which was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Ms Sicily Kariuki, UNIDO Representative to Kenya Mr Emmanuel Kalenzi and UN Women County Director Ms Zebib Kavuma, attracted over 100 women entrepreneurs and manufacturers from all over the country.
Speaking at the forum, the Cabinet Secretary stated that the contribution of women to national development is key for the growth of the country. “Women make over 50 percent of the population, provide over 85 percent of labour in agricultural sector and women owned businesses make about 48 percent of all SMEs contributing about 20 percent to Kenya’s GDP.
"But women remain underrepresented in all sectors, owning just about one percent of resources, have access to just about 10 percent of natural resources and in wage employment, women are paid less than men for equal work. Increased participation of women in manufacturing will drive Kenya's growth and provide employment,” said the minister.
UN Women Country Director Kavuma stated that business with women are more successful, and hence the need to create awareness on gender diversification in the workplace. “There is an urgent need to demystify the sector and to close the gender gap. It is prudent to understand the barriers keeping women away among them, education choices, cultural stereotypes, lack of awareness and lack of role models,” she said.
KAM Chairlady Ms Flora Mutahi stated the need to tap into the existing potential of Women's contribution in form of labour, leadership and participation in order to revive the manufacturing sector. “Of the 462,000 jobs created annually since 2000 in Kenya, 445,000 jobs have come from the informal sector, where 85 percent of women's businesses are found.
There is indeed great potential for women-run industries to create productive jobs and grow value chains in the country. The platform will look at increasing the value and capacity of these businesses through technical assistance, facilitating access to finance and mentorship from KAM’s larger database where they can also seek solutions to scale up their industries through business-to-business linkages.” added Ms Mutahi.
Mary Muthoni and Edith Kariuki contributed reporting for this article.