The Current Situation
Women make up to 75 percent of the workforce in the horticulture sector in Kenya. However, according to the Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya (FIDA-Kenya), women’s labour rights are still lagging from what is globally acceptable and women are largely receiving the bare minimum.
A 2002 study on gender, rights & participation in the Kenyan cut flower industry found that there were a number of problems common to workers on all the farms in their sample.
This was irrespective of the size of farm, the market outlet, which codes were applied and whether or not the code had been audited externally. These issues included employment insecurity, excessive overtime, sexual harassment, lack of representation, and health and safety issues.
COVID-19 is likely to have a lasting impact on the floriculture sector. Women workers are facing a new reality, where economic resilience will be key to sustain their livelihoods. Flower companies, governments and organisations working with women workers in Kenyan flower farms need to take action now, to ensure women workers’ rights are met in the coming years. We refer to those actions as “no-regrets moves” – actions that have a positive impact, regardless of the scenario that will occur in the coming years. The OECD Human Rights Due Diligence Framework12 is a comprehensive set of six steps, that helps to guide us in determining which actions to undertake.