Bodaboda is one of the booming businesses in Kenya today. It is an industry that has provided job opportunities to hundreds of youths, many of who would be out jobless without it.
The bodaboda industry has been providing job opportunities for male youths for a long time, but with the high unemployment rate in the country, their female counterparts have also started venturing into this business.
It is rare to find a female bodaboda operator, but you can also not miss one, once in a while.
In Eldoret town, there are a number of female bodaboda operators – but things have not been easy for them to maneuver through the industry.
Edah Jepchumba Maswai is one of the few female bodaboda operators and narrates her experience in this male-dominated industry.
She first notes that she had no option but to venture into it because of a lack of jobs. “This is a job like any other and unemployment is what forced me into it. At least with this job, I have a source of income,” she tells Uasin Gishu News.
But while she opted to earn a living from the bodaboda business, society seems not ready to accept them. “Tukienda pale stage, watu hutuchukulia negatively juu wanaona ni kama tunafanya kitu haifai. Wengine hutuita majina haifai. Kuna biassness, customers hawawezi kubali a lady awabebe,” Jepchumba narrates some of the challenges she has to encounter on a daily basis.
Despite the challenges, Jepchumba says she is fighting on – because it is the only place she can get something that will put food on her table.
“I want to assure people that ladies might be slow but they will ensure you arrive at your destination safely,” she notes, while urging other ladies to also venture into this lucrative business, instead of staying at home jobless.
Joseph Muchiri, a male bodaboda operator attests that there is a need for education to the community and more so among bodabodas to accommodate women as riders.
Winnie Imani who works with Global Civic Sharing (GCS) – an organization that has been educating the community about gender and human rights says the cultural upbringing and traditions amongst the community has made it hard for people to accept ladies into the bodaboda business.
“In Uasin Gishu, because of culture orientation, and traditions a woman has select roles this makes it a bit unwelcoming for women who decide to venture into bodaboda business,” Imani notes
“The community sees women as people who cannot do the work well as they are perceived to be weak, which is a wrong notion,” she adds.