, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – A study by the Kenya Human Rights Commission has revealed that women in the cutflower sector continue to suffer numerous human rights violations despite the presence of laws safeguarding their rights.
Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Atsango Chesoni said that the women labour rights report assessed six themes namely equal pay for equal work, maternity and paternity leave, child support, Sexual harassment, dismissal and casual labour.
She said the study showed that the women workers did not have job security, were not aware of their rights and they continued to suffer sexual harassment in workplaces in the horticultural supply chains.
“It’s valentines day, one of the sad things to learn with the study was that actually the worst work conditions happen today or in the lead up to preparing for today so I think we all love flowers, we enjoy their beauty, I think we have a responsibility in doing something to making the lives of the women who make it possible for us to have such a beautiful day, better,” Chesoni said.
The study also considered employment policies and their implementation in relation to compliance of the employment act and additional rights enshrined in the constitution.
Assistant Labour Commissioner Joseph Nyaga said there was need to actualise the labour laws so that such violations stop.
“The problem is that sometimes you may find in a county there is only one labour officer and the employers are so many such that he has to prioritise what to do and when you prioritise sometimes you don’t get time to reach those in the farms or in other places of work. You have to handle those who come to the office first and after that you can go to the field to ensure that there is compliance of the law,” he said.
The study was done in 15 flower farms in Naivasha, Thika and Athi River.
“The research found that women workers live in abject poverty with increasing vulnerability coupled with lack of coping mechanisms,” Chesoni said.
The study found that in these areas, there were 55 percent women headed households and this has increased women vulnerability.
Unfortunately, 97 percent of the workers in these farms felt that the union did not offer them any kind of protection from such violations.
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) statistics, the horticulture sector in Kenya was worth Sh32.3 billion by 2010.
Netherlands is the main Kenyan market with exports estimated at 55 percent followed by the United Kingdom at 24 percent.