Using a ‘traffic light’ color scheme, learn about a country’s performance relative to the other focus countries for each individual SDG. Each square on an individual SDG line represents the performance of a country, with the selected country (i.e. Kenya) being the larger square. Click on a country square on any SDG line to learn about the related indicators and their score!

Gender Equality Context in Kenya

Kenya has seen significant action in recent years to build institutions, infrastructure and policies to promote gender equality, including a Plan of Action to implement the National Policy on Gender and Development, launched in 2008. The country has made some progress on maternal mortality, has achieved gender parity in primary education enrolment and is approaching parity in secondary education.

The impact of legal and policy frameworks on the lives of girls and women, however, has been undermined by weak implementation and a lack of gender-responsive budgeting. Pervasive discrimination and cultural norms influence women’s land tenure and participation in labour markets; child, early and forced marriage; FGM; food security and nutrition; and access to finance and technology.

Many girls and women still lack access to basic services, and women remain under-represented in decision-making positions and political leadership.

Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030
Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030

Key findings

What does the SDG Gender Index tell us about the profile of gender equality for each country?

Areas of strong performance
  • SDG 2 on hunger:  Kenya had fairly low rates of anaemia amongst non-pregnant women in 2016.

  • SDG 4 on education:  Kenya performed relatively well on women’s literacy, with 74% of women aged 15 and over having basic literacy skills in 2014, as compared with 34% in Senegal in 2013.

  • SDG 5 on gender equality: Kenya had a standout performance on the share of women who reported having made or having received a digital payment in the past year in 2017 (75% of women).  While 23% of girls in Kenya were married before the age of 18 in 2014, this was the second lowest rate of child, early and forced marriage among the six focus countries. In addition, 22% of seats in Kenya’s national Parliament were held by women in 2018. Kenya also performed fairly well on women’s representation in the 5 key senior government positions that we measured for 2018.

  • SDG 8 on work and growth: Kenya receives the highest score for laws mandating women’s workplace equality. Kenya also had the highest rate of women’s unemployment among the focus countries at over 15% of the female labour force.

Areas for improvement
  • SDG 3 on health: Kenya has a low Index score on this goal as a result, in large part, of the high incidence of HIV among women (in Kenya the rate of women newly infected with HIV was more than 23 times that of the average across the other five countries in 2016), its high maternal mortality ratio and its high adolescent birth rate in 2015 (96 per 1,000 women aged 15-19).

  • SDG 6 on water and sanitation: Kenya has lagged behind on access to clean water and sanitation, particularly when compared with Senegal (a country with significantly lower GDP per capita). Just than 58% of people in Kenya were using at least basic drinking water services in 2015, and under 30% were using at least basic sanitation services in 2015.

  • SDG 7 on energy: Kenya is an outlier when it comes to reliance on clean fuels and technology: just 13% of the population relied on clean fuels and technology in 2016, compared with 32% in Senegal and 92% in Colombia.

  • SDG 17 on partnerships: Kenya spent the least on social expenditure as a share of GDP in 2016 (just 0.37%, compared with 3% in Colombia in 2015) and had the lowest commitment to gender budgeting in 2017.

Plan International / Georgina Goodwin, Equal Measures 2030
Plan International / Georgina Goodwin

Our Partner

Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030


GROOTS Kenya is a national movement of grassroots women with a mandate to promote effective engagement of grassroots women in development spaces.

Supported by EM2030, GROOTS Kenya is using available national gender statistics and localized gender data drawn from original research to drive accountability on gender-transformative SDG targets. Priority thematic issues being tracked by grassroots data advocates include access to land, access to financial and digital services, sexual and reproductive health, unpaid care work, safe public spaces, and access to energy, amongst others.

Early successes of the project include successful lobbying for increased household water access and the development of a county-level climate change policy in Laikipia county, as well as a partnership with local celebrities to promote data-driven content in mainstream and social media.

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Equal Measures 2030 Partners