In Kenya, disparities in access to resources and services create different challenges to attain adequate housing for men and women. On average, women have lower levels of education and literacy, lower paying jobs and unequal opportunities for employment. Consequently, women are significantly under-represented in leadership and decision-making positions at all levels.
Furthermore, the impact of the HIV and AIDS pandemic disproportionately affects women due to the increase of widows and orphans, vulnerability of women and girls to infection and an increased workload for women and girls who are the primary care givers. Fewer opportunities and limited access to financial services create challenges for women to attain adequate housing, particularly if they are alone or single mothers.In the labour force, women constitute 30% of the overall wage employment. The highest percentage is recorded in the education sector (45%) while the lowest is in the building and construction industry (7%), manufacturing 18%, electricity and water 18%. More women tend to venture into the small micro enterprises (SMEs). Although women operate 54% of the total enterprises in the country where they dominate wholesale and retail businesses, rural manufacturing and urban agriculture sectors. Men are well represented in such sectors as urban manufacturing, transport, financial and social services. It is also pointed out in the report that, representation of both men and women in decision making processes is critical for effective implementation of policies that affect the general population. However a negligible proportion of women are represented in senior and middle level policy formulation and implementation processes.(Source: Institute of economic affairs,2008).
In response to these obstacles, the Kenyan Government created the National Policy on Gender and Development in 2000, recognizing that it is the right of men and women to participate in and benefit equally from development initiatives. Additionally, Vision 2030 aims for equity in power and resource distribution between the sexes and improved livelihoods for all vulnerable groups.
NACHU has responded to the need for gender equality through creating a Gender Policy. NACHU understands that gender equality is central for the achievement of its goals to improve the lives of women and men, particularly the poor in Kenya. The organization works to create an enabling working environment where women and men have equal opportunities and are free from any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex. NACHU has mainstreamed gender issues into the training sessions and technical training activities provided to members.With a specific focus on gender issues, NACHU’s programs will be able to achieve development goals such as poverty reduction, social security and equitable sharing of resources and the benefits of development. With its Gender Policy in place NACHU has been able to ensure that 48% of the leadership in cooperatives are women and 55% of savings are by women.