Nestlé Kenya last week joined other companies from around the world in signing the UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEP). The Women Empowerment Principles are a set of seven principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. These principles were launched on International Women’s Day 2010.

The seven principles are;

  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
  3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
  4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that       empower women
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

Some of the women empowerment programmes that Nestlé has been undertaking include the training of 6,000 women farmers on how to become entrepreneurs in coffee farming through the ‘Women in Coffee component of the Nescafé Plan programme.

Despite efforts that have been made by some companies to improve the conditions of women in the workplace such as extended paid maternity leaves and lactation rooms to make it easier for women to breastfeed at work, the wage gap remains unresolved. Kenya has a glaring gender pay gap, with women earning Ksh. 55 for every Ksh. 100 paid to men between for equal work.  The result is women have lower purchasing power, have less to save for entrepreneurial activities and investment activities and even less to save for retirement, making them more likely to become dependents in future.

It is against the backdrop of this report that Zebib Kavuma, UN Women Country Director, urged other Kenyan companies to follow suit and sign the WEP statement.

Read the 2017 Gender Gap Report here.