Time to Care: A Look at Reimagining Care Work in Kenya

On March 6th, 2024, a powerful movement for change ignited in Nairobi, Kenya. The Time to Care (TTC) project launch, co-organized by Oxfam Kenya, KUDHEIHA, and Youth Alive, brought together a diverse group of women leaders to tackle a critical issue: the burden of unpaid care work on women and girls. 

The launch exposed the harsh reality: women in Kenya are expected to shoulder the weight of housework, childcare, and eldercare, often at the expense of their own education, careers, and well-being.   Speaking during the event, Blandina Bobson of Oxfam Kenya challenged the stereotype of the “good woman” who silently carries this burden. It’s time, she declared, to dismantle this narrative and build a society where care work is valued and shared. 

The launch highlighted contemporary patriarchal challenges problems – but also teased out perspectives from African feminists in all diversity.  Blandina Bobson, the Director of Programmes at Oxfam Kenya spoke during the event. In her opening remarks, she emphasized the importance of altering perceptions and breaking down the stereotype of women being valued solely for their hard work. Accordingly, Gloria Ndekei from KEPSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance) emphasized that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires addressing unpaid care work, a root cause of inequality.  

With the same tone, Cynthia Nyawira, director of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), urged the government to ratify international conventions protecting domestic workers’ rights.

The fight for justice extended beyond borders. Rose Omamo from the Central Organization of Trade Unions spoke about the abuse faced by Kenyan women working as domestic workers abroad. Ratifying Convention 189, she argued, could offer them much-needed safety and accountability. 

International support echoed through the launch. Grace Banya from the International Labor Organization pledged their commitment to working with Kenya to ensure women’s rights in the workplace. The Canadian High Commissioner, H.E Christopher Thornley, acknowledged the undervaluing of care work and announced a $100 million commitment from Canada to support both paid and unpaid care. Most importantly, he called upon men to become more active participants in care work. 

The launch was a vibrant celebration of women’s strength and a call to action for all. The room, adorned in shades of purple just before International Women’s Day, pulsed with the energy of a movement determined to achieve gender equality. The message was clear: care work is essential, and it deserves recognition, respect, and fair compensation. It’s time to care, and it’s time for men to join the effort. 

The aforementioned was written and compiled by Wambere Mugo for more information on the Time to Care (TTC) project contact her via w.mugo@femnet.or.ke

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