Oxfam Canada launches new program to support care infrastructure and gender equality in Kenya

Thanks to a contribution of $4.9 million from the Government of Canada and almost $231,000 from Oxfam Canada, more than 5,916 people in Kenya (including 4,451 women) will be directly supported through the Time to Care project.

The project will be implemented by Oxfam Canada in partnership with Oxfam in Kenya, Youth Alive! Kenya, Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), and Equimundo.

The Honourable Arielle Kayabaga, P.C., M.P announced the project at Women Deliver 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda on July 16 as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to funding care work as part of its international development efforts.

Over its six-year duration, Time to Care will improve gender equality and care infrastructure for women and girls in Kenya. The project will increase the adoption of gender-equitable social norms around both paid and unpaid care work, strengthen the competencies of paid care workers to advocate for and claim their rights, and increase the implementation of gender-transformative legislation, policies, and practices that support paid and unpaid care work in Kenya.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, initiatives that address inequalities in paid and unpaid care work are needed now more than ever. The pandemic highlighted the critical role of care work to the functioning of societies at large and the heavy and unequal care responsibilities that have been trapping women into poverty,” said Jennifer Luedey, Oxfam Canada’s Director of Fund Development.

In Kenya, there are about two million domestic workers, of which approximately 80 per cent are women. On average, women spend five hours a day on unpaid care work compared to about one hour for men. Women and girls’ care work props up the economy and underpins society, yet there is insufficient investment in fostering gender equality in this work.

Through the project, local civil society organizations, including women’s rights organizations, care worker unions, and small to medium businesses will have the opportunity to strengthen their capacity to implement gender transformative care programs and policies.

Time to Care will also deliver gender-transformative training and sensitization sessions with workplace leadership to support them to be champions of care work. Behavioural communications change campaigns will aim to foster normative change in support of care work and paid care workers will be trained on relevant competencies, life skills, advocacy, leadership, and rights, including the right to decent work and the right to live free from violence.

We hope that through projects like Time to Care we can shift negative attitudes around care work, ensuring that paid care workers have a safe and healthy working environment where their rights are respected, and that community social norms can be shifted to challenge negative perceptions of care work,” Luedey said.

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Notes to editors:
  • Women are often relegated to more vulnerable professions, including employment in the informal economy, particularly domestic work. The sector is characterized by a high job turnover, casual or temporary employment, labour relations that are usually not established through a formal work contract, and discriminatory social and legal practices that engender a low social value for domestic work.
  • The burden and conditions of paid and unpaid care on women and girls are rooted in unequal gender norms, such as traditional gender roles and divisions of labour resulting in greater opportunity and economic benefits occurring to men and male-dominated professions and underlying beliefs about women’s activities being low-value and low-skill.
  • Although Kenya has made significant progress regarding expanding labour rights through legislative and statutory regulations, rights and regulations for domestic workers and paid care worker are yet to be fully implemented and enforced.
  • Domestic work and paid care work continue to be undervalued and invisible with many women, girls, migrants, and vulnerable people experiencing discrimination with respect to work and human rights. Also Kenya is yet to ratify the ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers (Domestic Workers Convention, No. 189)
  • The Time to Care project will also raise the presence and voice of care workers in important policy discussions and decisions by strengthening the advocacy capacity of Kenyan CSOs and care worker unions that support women’s and workers’ rights. Advocacy strategies, tools and mechanisms will be developed by CSOs and care workers unions to hold government to account on gender-transformative structural changes.
For more information please contact:

Paula Baker
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada
(613) 240-3047

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