Studies from North America, Europe, and Latin America show that women’s disproportionate child care responsibilities significantly impede their labor force participation. Yet, some have questioned whether similar barriers exist in sub-Saharan Africa, where women primarily work in the informal sector and may receive extensive kin support. To test whether child care obligations limit African women from engaging in paid work, we conducted a randomized study which provided subsidized early child care (ECC) to selected mothers living in a slum area of Nairobi, Kenya. We found that not only are mothers eager to send their children to ECC centers, but also that women who were given subsidized ECC were, on average, 8.5 percentage points (or over 17%) more likely than those who were not to be employed. This effect rose to over 20 percentage points among women who actually used the ECC services. Furthermore, working mothers who were given subsidized ECC were able to work fewer hours than those not given ECC without any loss to their earnings. These findings provide strong evidence that subsidizing child care for women in poor urban settings could be a powerful mechanism to improve female labor outcomes and reduce gender inequalities in Africa.