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Karim Abawi, Marloes Schoonheim, Anne Khisa


Health care as a constitutional right of every citizen is stated in the following articles of the constitution of Kenya:

The Bill of Rights part 2 – Rights and Fundamental Freedoms:

  • Article 43 section 1: Every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.
  • Article 53 section 1c: Every child has the right to basic nutrition, shelter and health care.
  • Article 56 section e: The State shall put in place affirmative action programmes designed to ensure that minorities and marginalised groups have reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure.

Distribution of Functions Between the National Government and the County Governments part 2 – County Governments:

  • Article 2: The functions and powers of the county are County health services, including, in particular (a) county health facilities and pharmacies; (b) ambulance services; (c) promotion of primary health care.

Sexual and reproductive rights implementation

  • Abortion is legal only under specific conditions mentioned in the constitution (article 24 section 4: "Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law"
  • Female Genital mutilation
    The Kenyan government developed a multi-disciplinary National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (1999-2019). United Nations data from 2013 showed a significant decrease in FGM in Kenya.
  • Fetal rights are recognized in the Kenyan constitution (article 26 section 2 : The life of a person begins at conception.)
  • Rights of people living with HIV/AIDS
    Based on the plan of action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD 1994) Kenya developed its National Population Policy for Sustainable Development, which outlined strategies and objectives that included reproductive health and reproductive rights, adolescent reproductive health, gender perspectives and HIV /AIDS.
  • Rights of sexual minorities
    Health service providers are not prepared to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of sexual minorties. For more information please see the National Reproductive Health Strategy 2009-2015.
  • Violence against women
    The National Reproductive Health Strategy of Kenya for 2009-2015 highlights sexual and reproductive rights as one of its main objectives: “Promote gender equity and equality in decision making in matter of sexual and reproductive health and contribute to the elimination of harmful practices and gender-based violence within a multisectoral and legal framework”.

Sexual and reproductive rights challenges

Despite the substantial improvement in the health status of the population and particularly of women and children in the country numerous challenges still persist especially in relation to sexual and reproductive rights.

A big challenge in Kenya is the very weak involvement of women in decision-making with regard to their sexual and reproductive rights, e.g. health seeking, harmful practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and sexual and gender-based violence.

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