Female participation in the labour market: The case of the informal sector in Kenya

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African Economic Research consortium
The informal sector has become increasingly important as a source of income and employment in Kenya. This contrasts with the declining performance of the formal sector, and underscores the sector’s potential for absorbing the country’s increasing labour force as more households become dependent on it. One important attribute of the sector is that it has become a major employer of the female labour force in the country. This study investigated the factors determining the participation of women in informal sector activities given a range of other available labour market options. The results show that education is one of the important factors determining women’s participation in the different categories of the labour market. The study concludes that efforts to address the problem of women’s access to the labour market should focus on improving their access to education as one of the important factors for improving their human capital. Given the nature of the informal sector, and the fact that access to the labour market is an outcome of the interaction between demand and supply, addressing female participation in the sector may require addressing the demand side of the Kenyan labour market in addition to the factors expected to explain labour market participation.