Terms of Reference - Understanding the Impact of Neoliberalism and International Financial Institutions policies on Kenya’s Macro Economy


Terms of Reference: Understanding the Impact of Neoliberalism and International Financial Institutions policies on Kenya’s Macro Economy


ActionAid International Kenya (AAIK) is a non-partisan, non-religious development organisation that has been working in Kenya since 1972 to end poverty and injustices. ActionAid Kenya is among the leading anti-poverty agencies in Kenya with a presence in 16 counties, directly impacting over one million people living in poverty and exclusion. AAIK is committed in advancing Women’s Rights and ensuring that Women Living in Poverty and Exclusion are at the centre of our work. AAIK commits to work with Women, Children and Youth living in poverty and exclusion to claim and realize their constitutional rights. AAIK approach is based on the pillars of Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA); which are empowerment, solidarity, campaigning and advancing Alternatives where communities lead the change process and AAIK facilitates their actions. AAIK is implementing the Young Urban Women project funded by the Hewlett Foundation from April 2023 to April 2026 in Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. The project is also being implemented in 3 other countries: Ghana, South Africa, and Malawi. The project seeks to advance policy that supports feminist economic wellbeing of young women by empowering feminist movements to mobilize at grassroots, national, regional, and global levels to be heard by their governments, as well as International Financial Institutions (IFIs), in calling for the rejection of neoliberal economic policies in favor of a feminist wellbeing economy, including by investing in care economies, access to decent work, social protection, and gender responsive public services.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Kenya implemented Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) under the guidance of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address macroeconomic imbalances, promote market-oriented reforms, and attract foreign investment. These programs necessitated policy changes such as fiscal austerity, trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation in sectors like telecommunications, energy, finance, and transportation to enhance efficiency, foster competition, and attract private investment. However, the outcomes have been varied with concerns emerging over market concentration, limited competition, and marginalized communities experiencing difficulties accessing essential services. Moreover, aligned with neoliberal framework, IFIs emphasized fiscal discipline and reduced government spending. It has also resulted in tax incentives including the Finance Act, 2023[1].

[1] https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/imf-board-signs-off-1-bln-funds-kenya-2023-07-17/

Budgetary constraints hinder adequate access to public services, particularly for vulnerable populations. The privatization of key services has resulted in affordability, access, availability, and equity concerns. While Kenya has witnessed GDP growth of 4.9% - 5.7% (2016- 2020) and 7.60% - 4.80% (2021-2022) the decline was attributed to external factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. GDP factors in a country’s consumption, investment, government expenditure and net exports. A country is, thus, said to be doing “well” if there is an increase in GDP. While there maybe economic growth in a country as defined by the GDP, this does not directly translate to social and environmental development. The use of GDP as an indicator of growth excludes indicators that factor in the wellbeing of the individual which may vary from mental physical, health, education and learning, employment, and gender equality etc. Despite some positive economic growth indicators, neoliberal policies continue to exacerbate inequality and poverty in Kenya especially for women. We therefore need to seek an alternative approach that serves the people and the planet, and not the systems.

Rationale and Purpose

A feminist wellbeing economy seeks to create a more equitable and just society by challenging gendered power imbalances, valuing care and wellbeing, promoting sustainability and prioritizing the needs and rights of all individuals.

Another World is Possible, (ActionAid, 2021), looked at feminist economic alternatives (FEAs). [1]FEAs focus on care economies and the well-being of individuals and the planet which stands in contrast to the dominant neoliberal approach. FEAs challenge and reject the ongoing imperialist and colonial exploitation of people, particularly women, and resources in the global South perpetuated by the global North.

Informed by this background, AAIK seeks to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the impact of neoliberalism and IFI’s on Kenya’s macroeconomic activities, including privatization, taxation and young women’s access to public services. Provision of publicly financed and delivered Gender Responsive Public Services is vital to ensuring the progressive realization of women’s economic and wider human rights, as well as to tackling social exclusion based on other intersecting aspects of women’s identities. Therefore, seeking a wellbeing economy that centres care in economics by reclaiming public goods and services from privatization is paramount.

[1] https://www.actionaid.org.uk/publications/another-world-possible-advancing-feminist-economic-alternatives

Women’s collective action is central in pushing the transformation of the prevailing economic system. FEAs recognise biases in the prevailing economic system, while demanding and putting into practice steps towards the systemic transformation of the rules of the economy. Systemic transformation entails calling out and dismantling unequal power relations that are rooted in systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, neocolonialism, extractivism, ableism, cis heteronormativity etc.) and a reconstruction of the economic systems, structures, policies, and institutions that both perpetuate and benefit from them, so that economic systems are instead focused on ensuring the democratic and accountable attainment of human rights for all and environmental preservation.

The consultancy will further analyse existing evidence and research that would inform our advocacy efforts for a feminist wellbeing economy and identify effective strategies for promoting Feminist Economic Alternatives (FEA’s) in Kenya.


The consultancy will have the following objectives:

  1. Evaluate the effects of neoliberal policies on Kenya's macroeconomic indicators, including GDP growth, employment rates, income distribution, and poverty levels.
  2. Assess the role of IFIs, Global North countries and donors in shaping Kenya's economic policies, fiscal management, debt sustainability, and structural reforms.

Scope of Work

The consultancy will involve the following tasks including:

  1. Review existing literature, reports, and studies on the impact of neoliberalism and IFIs on Kenya's macroeconomy, with a focus on gender equality, economic and social justice.
  2. Collect and analyze quantitative data on macroeconomic indicators, employment, income distribution, poverty levels, and gender disparities in the Kenyan economy.
  3. Conducting Key Informant Interviews and consultations with key stakeholders, including government officials, civil society organizations, women's rights activists, economists, and experts in relevant fields to understand the nuances, complexities and implications of neoliberalism and feminist wellbeing economies within specific context of study. These interviews will also help to identify potential solutions and policy recommendations for transition and or adoption of a feminist wellbeing economy.
  4. Conducting Focus Group Discussions with Young women in Nairobi and Mombasa to gain further understanding of the gendered impact of austerity measures and policy directives which potentially exacerbate existing gender inequalities and contribute to their marginalized status.
  5. Assessing the policy frameworks and structural factors catalyzing the implementation and outcomes of neoliberal policies in Kenya.
  6. Analyze the social and environmental impacts of neoliberal policy influence on various sectors, including healthcare, education, welfare, natural resource management, and environmental sustainability.
  7. Identify successful case studies and best practices from other countries or regions that promote a feminist well-being economy that can form learning foundation to Kenya’s context.
  8. Develop evidence-based recommendations and effective strategies for promoting a feminist well-being economy in Kenya, considering the findings of the analysis and the perspectives of diverse stakeholders.
  9. Present the research findings and recommendations to relevant stakeholders and facilitate discussions and feedback to validate and enrich the analysis.


The consultancy will deliver the following:

  1. An inception report outlining the methodology, data sources, and work plan.
  2. A comprehensive research report summarizing the analysis, findings, and evidence-based recommendations for promoting a feminist well-being economy.
  3. A presentation of the research findings and recommendations to stakeholders, including a question-and-answer session and facilitated discussions.
  4. A final report incorporating feedback from stakeholders and outlining a roadmap for advocacy efforts to promote a feminist well-being economy in Kenya.


The consultancy is estimated to take 20 days, starting from 28th August 2023. Specific milestones and deliverable due dates will be agreed upon during the inception phase.

Qualifications and Expertise

The consultancy team should possess the following qualifications and expertise:

  1. A master’s degree in social sciences such as economics, development studies, gender studies, or a related field. A bachelor’s degree will be considered, where substantive experience and similar studies are proven.
  2. Demonstrated experience in conducting research and analysis on macroeconomics, neoliberalism, gender equality, and social justice.
  3. Familiarity with the Kenyan context, including the policy environment and socio-economic dynamics.
  4. Excellent analytical and report writing skills, with the ability to present complex information in a clear and concise manner.
  5. Strong communication and facilitation skills to engage effectively with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds.
  6. Familiarity with a feminist economics will be an added advantage.
  7. Familiarity with research applications.
  8. Experience with gender analysis and feminist lens.


The budget for this consultancy should include all costs associated with data collection, research, analysis, stakeholder consultations, report writing, and presentation of findings. The budget should be inclusive of any travel, accommodation, and other logistical expenses.

How to apply

Applications will be submitted via email to Procurement.Kenya@actionaid.org on or before 4th September 2023.

Only successful candidates will be contacted.