Containment from Within: Women Entrepreneurs’ Strategies for Accessing Public Space and Securing Livelihoods in Nairobi during COVID-19 Pandemic
- Ese, Anders|Ese, Kristin | Mukeku, Joseph | Sanyal, Romola | Sidori, Benjamin | Lien, Ida | Bergby, Synne
The restrictions limiting social interaction and use of public space in Nairobi during the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately affected residents in poor urban communities, who are dependent on using streets, alleyways, and communal areas as extensions of their household spaces to secure livelihoods. This research focuses on how this situation has been handled by women entrepreneurs living in these communities, a group that literature suggests might be among those most vulnerable in crisis. Kenyans are not unfamiliar with severe limitations and control. Restrictive and punitive measures have been regularly meted out by authorities in times of crisis. While we did find evidence of restrictions being highly detrimental to the livelihoods and incomes of the women, they were also able to reorganise their income generation and expenditures in attempts to individually cope with the situation. They were, however, unable to come together in groups to communally address grievances and challenges; they were barred from spaces of public, important platforms that secured group interests for the women pre-COVID-19 and allowed them to take part in placemaking.