Determinants of gender earnings differntials in the informal set up
Gachanja, Paul Mwangi
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The rapid and comprehensive economic reforms that Kenya has undertaken have led to changes in the employment situation, with respect to increased participation of women in the labour force and the rise of unemployment, especially among the youth. The increased participation of women in the labour force is mainly due to the opening up of opportunities occasioned by the improved access of women to education. This has seen participation rates rise for urban women from 30 percent in the early eighties to over 56percent currently. However, women S employment is still characterised by low productivity, low pay and long hours of work. This situation is even worse in the rural set up where the rural women still spend a disproportionate amount of their time on unpaid work, limiting their access to income earning opportunities. They also have a limited role in formal employment, while off-farm work oftencompromises their traditional roles. In addition, women are disproportionately represented in the informal sector. The major factors fronted for this situation include imbalances in training and access; retrogressive cultural practices which bar women from taking uppositions in certain spheres of employment and lack of a supportive legal framework. Attempts to raise the level of quality participation of women in the labour force have been unsuccessful due to inadequate skills and other social cultural factors (Republic of Kenya, 2002). The upshot is that average earnings for women are less than half those of men. (Republic of Kenya, 1997). This suggests that men arefavoured by all these factors above, guaranteeing them higher earnings than women. This paper will therefore seek to identify the major hindrances to women s participation in labour force in the informal rural set up and more so, the extent to which training, culture and the current legal framework have contributed to dismal participation of women in the gainfulemployment thereby dismal earnings. This will be achieved through collection of the available secondary data to be supplemented with information primarily obtained from the relevant sources. Simple descriptive statistics will be used to analyze the data. The paper proposes remedies that will enhance women participation so as to step up their earnings.