The University of Nairobi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have launched the Women’s Economic Empowerment Hub. Dubbed the WEE Hub, the project will be a thought leader in producing cutting edge, innovative, rigorous, and accessible research which will contribute to the full realization of women’s economic empowerment in Kenya. This cutting-edge research is expected to impact policy formulation, implementation, and up scaling of what works for women in economic empowerment into full scale programs.
Presiding over the launch on December 16, 2020, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry for Public Service and Gender Affairs, Prof. Margaret Kobia, noted that the Hub will be a critical institution in strengthening the economic empowerment of women of Kenya.
“As a Ministry in charge of gender affairs, we strive to empower women and promote gender equity and equality with the aim of improving the lives of Kenyans,” said Prof. Kobia. “I am pleased to see a Women’s Economic Empowerment Hub that will provide evidence on what works for women in economic empowerment as this will be very useful for us in the Ministry as we seek to fulfill our mandate.
The Government of Kenya acknowledges that empowering women economically is a key component of sustainable development. This is guided by the National Policy on Gender and Development (2019) whose overarching objective is to provide guidance and facilitate the implementation of gender equality provisions in the Constitution and other instruments through legislative, administrative, policy measures and programs required to address the gender inequalities and existing gaps by both levels of Government and non-state actors, including the private sector.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama, said that the WEE Hub points the direction that the University should focus on in the next 50 years to continue leading as a centre of excellence and a thought leader in Kenya, in the African region and globally.
“We shall therefore strengthen research on women’s empowerment with the aim of promoting gender equality and sustainable development in Kenya and globally,” said Prof. Kiama. “Drawing from a multi-disciplinary team of scholars in economics, women’s studies, law, business studies and development studies, the Hub will produce foundation research to understand what matters for women’s economic empowerment and understand pathways that enable women’s work. I am confident that given the able and experienced leadership, the Hub will generate cutting edge data to strengthen generation and use of evidence based data to influence policy development and implementation in an effort to advance WEE and gender equality in Kenya.”
The WEE Hub will focus on four broad research areas, which are Affirmative Action Funds and entrepreneurship; Women in formal and informal employment; Child care and women’s work; and Women’s movement and policy advocacy for women’s economic empowerment.
“As UoN, we focus on what the research can do for the common mwanachi. We want research that improves people’s lives and WEE Hub will do just that. We underscore the role of research in empowering women. Women are key players in our society,” noted Prof. Horace Ochanda, Deputy Vice-chancellor, Research, Innovation and Enterprise.
The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Mohamud Jama said that the WEE Hub is the newest research project in UoN. He committed as a College to play its role in ensuring the successful implementation of the research programme.
Prof. Wanjiku Kabira, the Director, African Women Studies Centre (AWSC), where the WEE Hub will be housed, revealed that the vision of the WEE Hub is the full realization of Women’s Economic Empowerment while its mission is to be a thought- leader in producing cutting-edge, innovative, rigorous, and accessible evidence through research for impacting policy formulation, implementation and up-scaling for full realization of women’s empowerment.