KAM, IDH Kenya host first ever Gender in Manufacturing Forum

Tuesday, 2nd May 2023, Nairobi: Manufacturers have today been urged to promote gender equality and women workers’ welfare in an increasingly competitive world.

 This was during the firstever Gender in Manufacturing Forum, hosted by Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in partnership with IDH Kenya (the Sustainable Trade Initiative). The event sought to highlight significant opportunities and interventions to help accelerate gender-positive actions in the Textile and Apparel Sector. 

Speaking during the event, Principal Secretary, State Department of Labour and Social ProtectionGeoffrey Kaituko appreciated the importance of a skilled workforce in the manufacturing sector. 

Manufacturing is a creator of sustainable jobs since it integrates forward and backward linkages. There is an increasing and significant demand for skilled workers in industries in Kenya and a demand for improved quality of goods and services that meet international investor standards. Quality skills development has been directly linked to youth employment and sustainable economic development. Successful industrialization can increase productivity and unleash more dynamic sectors in Kenya that can create and sustain jobs. As the government, we are currently reviewing labour laws to reflect the new dynamics in play and shall engage employers. I urge manufacturers to keep alive to the call for decent work and to pursue their realization through rule of law, social dialogue, social protection and employment promotion. 

Principal Secretary, State Department of MSME Development, Susan Mang’eni noted, “Majority of citizens in the grassroots are women. Our focus remains on building their capacity, through digitization to empower them economically. In the Textile & Apparel Sector, this calls on us to take advantage in the entire value chain, from farm to fashion 

IDH Kenya Country DirectorJenny Lofbom noted that we must urgently make decisions to enhance access to economic resources for women. 

“By working with industry partners in agriculture and manufacturing, we have developed a broad spectrum of interventions by being gender-intentional to implement gender-transformative projects. Some of the key issues that need to be addressed include making the workplace safe for all; ensure equitable pay; adopt gender transformative business models; and enhance access to finance.” 

KAM Women in Manufacturing (WIM) Program Chair – Mary Ngechu called on local manufacturers to adopt inclusivity and sustainability to give them a competitive edge in the global markets, saying, “Adopting globally acceptable standards, practices and policies is crucial in enhancing sustainability in the industry. Additionally, conducive legislative and institutional support by government in providing an enabling environment for unfettered growth in the adoption of sustainable practices is key. In doing so, we shall be able to access both local and international markets.” 

KAM CEO Anthony Mwangi highlighted the opportunities for women in the Textile and Apparel Sector. 

“With a market share worth Ksh 50 million locally and approximately Ksh 300 million in East Africa, 65 local textile manufacturers and 29 in Export Processing Zones (EPZs), the Textile and Apparel Sector presents endless opportunities for women to tap into. Additionally, the government has prioritized the Textile and Apparels Sector as a key driver of job creation, exports development and industrialization. This can be realized by boosting ginneries to process cotton; improving the competitiveness of textile mills; increasing access to raw materials; countering illicit trade and driving the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 

He also called on manufacturers to be agile, observing that, “The international textile and apparel value chains are making concerted efforts towards inclusivity and sustainability. For Kenyan businesses, being unable to comply with these standards creates a risk of being left out of global supply chains and represents a high cost in missed market opportunitiesIt is thus of paramount importance to empower the sector in Kenya to embed critical tenets of sustainability.” 

The event is part of the KAM-IDH Kenya Partnership (Sustainability for Competitiveness Project) to drive the competitiveness of the Textile and Apparel Industry in Kenya. The Project focuses on good governance; job creation; environmental conservation and restoration; inclusivity and sustainability as well as skills development. 

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