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NEWS INDEPTH: Gender biases keep healthcare inequalities festering

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Women play a massive role in the healthcare workforce globally. They serve as doctors, midwives, nurses and community health workers.

Despite this, women are subjected to gender discrimination that denies them equal opportunities as their male counterparts.

A recently released report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that female health and social care workers who deliver the majority of care in all settings face barriers at work unlike their male colleagues.

Findings suggests that gender-based obstacles such as occupational segregation, sexual harassment present problems especially for female healthcare workers.

The WHO says that women make up 70 percent of the global health workforce but occupy only 25 percent of leadership roles. Men hold the majority of leadership roles at all levels, from global to community.

The circumstances are no different in Kenya where despite having equal numbers men and women graduates from medical or nursing schools, only a small fraction of female healthcare workers become medical leaders.

The closer women get to the top, the less diversity exists. Often when women get to a position that reports to the CEO, it is usually as a technical expert, such as a chief human resource officer, chief legal officer or chief information officer.


“A gender analysis of Kenya’s health training institutions found that women made up 76 percent of the nursing profession, but men held 62 percent of the faculty positions,” states the WHO report.

Data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) shows that of the current retained 7,475 doctors, 4,437 are men while 3,138 are women. Of the total 2,284 specialists only 696 are women.

Often, gender norms and job stereotypes can affect the roles that women play with a report titled Human Resources for Health showing that occupations such as nursing, nutrition, community health work (CHW), and community health extension work (CHEW) are perceived as ‘female jobs’ whereas pharmacy appears to be a ‘male job’.

The stereotyping is a significant contributor to the gender pay gap.

Since there is a pay gap between general practitioners and specialists in the medical field this shows that more men make money than women in the medical fraternity.

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The WHO says that gender pay gap is also a major obstacle for female health workers in the country where subtle unconscious biases in hiring and promotion processes have implications for women’s careers and advancements that impact their earning potential.


Since unions play a key role in pay grades given that collective bargaining has been shown to be effective in negotiating comparable salaries, the WHO states that when men participate in unions and women are not union members, then even the same hourly wages may lead to pay differentials.

Data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) shows that while 55 percent of Kenyan doctors under the age of 40 years are women more men (at 63 percent) are in practice.

The WHO report shows that female health and social care workers who deliver the majority of services in all settings also face gender-based barriers.

This not only undermines their well-being and livelihoods, it also constrains progress on gender equality and negatively impacts health systems and the delivery of quality care.

The report shows that in Kenya, threats of violence or harassment do not only come from sources within the health system.


“For example, community health workers in Kenya experienced threats of violence by husbands when providing HIV testing to wives. Cases of rape were also reported, leading to calls for security services to accompany community health workers,” the report reveals.

Another setback for women in healthcare is the unequal access of girls to education in many low- and middle-income countries, particularly to secondary schooling, which has limited their access to training for formal health sector jobs, the WHO reveals.

Data on Kenya’s gender pay gap shows that only 28,072 women earn more than Sh100,000 a month. In comparison, men in the same income bracket are more than double that number at 48,733.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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