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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

2 - Neoliberal Transformations and Gender in Kenya


This chapter investigates the ways in which neoliberal transformations in Kenya have been gendered and how those processes have contributed to increasing gendered precarity. It treats changes in formal economic structures together with informal dynamics to demonstrate the gendered outcomes of neoliberal reforms. First, it interrogates the ways in which the restructuring of the economy since the 1990s has had different effects on men's and women’s positions in the labour markets. The decreasing male ability to earn money and the ways in which these processes have affected informal safety nets are discussed before moving on to explore new ways in which women have been targeted for certain jobs because of their cheap labour. Second, the chapter focuses on a specific disadvantaged group of women – those who fall through the cracks in the informal safety nets and struggle to make a living – to demonstrate the gendered, informal and precarious nature of jobs available to women in such situations, with sex work as one of the alternatives. Finally, the chapter turns to demonstrate the ways in which neoliberal economy and society relies on such gendered precarity and the income generated in this way for social reproduction.

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