Improving Childcare Options to Create Better Economic Opportunities for Women in Nairobi Slums

This project will provide evidence on the role of high-quality, affordable daycare in allowing mothers to work in paid employment in poor urban contexts. The goal is to raise awareness among policy leaders that investing in daycare centres may be as important as expanding secondary schools in helping poor women reach their full economic potential. The research will focus on the Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Nearly 50% of Kenyan mothers have children under the age of five. For these women, working in paid employment depends on their ability to find safe and affordable childcare. Historically, women have relied on family, particularly grandmothers and older daughters, to offer childcare while at work. This support has declined as increased migration and urbanization have separated families. This is most evident in poor urban areas where many women are recent immigrants and single mothers. The same trend is observed throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This project responds to the need to better understand whether and how the lack of affordable childcare options can undermine women's ability to succeed economically. While the research is focused in Kenya, the lessons will be relevant to other low-income countries. The project will seek to -assess whether improving the affordability and quality of daycare services increases labour force participation, number of hours worked, and earned income; -create awareness and discussion among community leaders and policymakers about the childcare challenges facing poor working mothers; and -provide recommendations that will help develop effective policies and programs to enhance childcare opportunities, reducing one of the main barriers to women working and gaining economic independence. The Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University will coordinate the project in close collaboration with the Africa Population and Health Research Center. This research is supported under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program. GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC. With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women's livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. One component of the program will support 11 projects addressing barriers to women's economic empowerment and gender gaps in earnings and productivity. This project is among them, selected following a competitive call.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Martha Melesse

Total funding

CA$ 952,466


Kenya, United Kingdom, Canada, South of Sahara


Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women

Project Leader

Shelley Clark


The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University

Institution Country


Institution Website