Social Protection in Kenya: Disruptions and Opportunities for Women Working in the Informal Sector
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Social protection is central in accelerating the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and affirming the principle of "leave no one behind" (Koehler, 2021). Global evidence shows that social protection mechanisms can alleviate poverty, boost the resilience of individuals against shocks, promote access to basic services, foster economic recovery, and improve household incomes (Devereux, 2001; Obare, 2021; Thakur, Arnold, & Johnson, 2009). The COVID-19 pandemic has globally increased women's socio-economic and health vulnerabilities (O'Donnell, Buvinić, Bourgault, & Webster, 2021). Women working in the informal sector in developing economies, such as Kenya, are among the worst hit by the pandemic. These women have experienced elevated poverty, food insecurity, job/income loss, increased burden of unpaid care, and gender-based violence during this period. This position paper highlights the existing measures by the Government of Kenya (GoK) and non-state actors to mitigate the socio-economic shocks to vulnerable households. It identifies opportunities for enriching the social protection mechanisms from a gendered lens and suggests the need to widen the safety net for informal workers through government-led social protection initiatives, as shown in Table 1 below.