Kenya: Study on how Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women working in the horticultural sector
Hivos recently conducted an assessment to establish the impact of Covid-19 on women workers in the horticulture sector. The study reveals that women have been disproportionately impacted, now doing more work for less. A majority of workers interviewed reported an increase in care-work, tension at work and a sense of financial inadequacy. This combination is straining women’s family relations as they find themselves too exhausted to properly engage after a hard day’s work.
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Author: Caroline Wahome, Hivos
"A sector worth billions whose employees now lack food and jobs"
High food prices and loss of income have emerged as the major concerns for women working on flower farms in Kenya. A rapid assessment of the effects of COVID-19 by Hivos East Africa [email protected] indicates that food security is a major concern mainly due to job losses and increasing food prices...In one of the farms sampled there was a significant reduction of workers from 500 to 180, with close to 100 permanent workers being among those sent on unpaid leave. Additionally, on only four out of 12 farms sampled have employers retained their entire workforce as the effects of COVID-19 rage on. For some of these farms, the decision to retain workers was the result of dialogue between company management and the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU). They agreed on a rotational schedule of two weeks of paid work and two weeks of unpaid leave...
Doing more work for less pay (reported in eight of the 12 farms sampled) has led to an increase in the number of employees off sick, with women reporting higher fatigue and stress levels as they live in constant fear of termination. “I feel tormented both mentally and physically. It is like life has turned upside down. I am doing more than double the work I used to do. And yet when I go back home, my children need my full attention,” said one of the interviewees.
"Impact of Covid-19 on women workers in the horticulture sector in Kenya"
The impact of Covid-19 pandemic has impacted women workers in the horticulture sector socially, economically and psychologically, with the effect spiralling to their homes. The following findings were recorded from the assessment [include m]assive layoffs of temporary and seasonal workers[;h]undreds of permanent workers sent on unpaid leave or operating on salary cuts as further downsizing is imminent should the pandemic persist [;w]omen workers entirely rely on their meagre earnings from the farms thus the disruptions on their jobs have sabotaged their livelihoods and well-being. The layoffs, salary cuts and unpaid leaves were effected in contravention of labour laws – with neither notice nor consultation[;i]ntensified unpaid care work for women workers who have lost their jobs. This is further compounded by homeschooling obligations following the closure of schools and higher learning institutions