Understanding Power in Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy and Legislative Reform Processes in Kenya

Rose N. Oronje, African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP)
Eliya M. Zulu, African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP)

Study examined how different framings of power drive/inhibit reforms in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) policymaking in Kenya in order to generate learning for future reform efforts. Three policymaking processes (Adolescent RH policymaking; Sexual Offences Act; National RH Policymaking) were deconstructed. Data collection involved in-depth interviews with state/non-state policy actors and document review. Study revealed that four powerful framings of SRH – moral, cultural, medical, human rights - underpinned by interests of different actors mediate the interaction of actors, knowledge, and context, to determine reforms. The moral and cultural framings, supported by powerful institutions (government/parliament/religious), dominate policymaking. Although the medical framing has partially unsettled moral/cultural frames to facilitate some reforms, it remains highly moralised, effectively marginalising sensitive issues. The rights framing is marginalised because it threatens the power of dominant actors (politicians/religious leaders). For Kenya to realise comprehensive reforms, efforts must challenge underlying interests of control that underpin powerful framings.

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Presented in Session 89: Fertility, Family Planning, and Sexual Health: Policies and Politics