Feminism in Kenya
FEMINISM IN KENYA 4
Feminismcan broadly be defined as the collection of policies and ideologiesaimed at improving the standards of women with respect to social,economic, political and leadership positions in the society. Inparticular, feminism seeks to achieve gender equality, giving equalopportunities to men and women (Creageret.al, 2001).
Kenyais one of the most compelling African Countries in terms of feminismtransformation. Rising from a British colony in her pre-independencetimes, Kenya achieved her independence in 1963. The fight for womenliberation in Kenya was pioneered by various heroic women, includingthe Nobel Laureate the Late Professor Wangari Maathai, who foundedthe Green Belt movement in 1977. The movement was a leading voice forenvironmental conservation (for which Professor Maathai was given theNobel award) and women’s rights. She was variously frustrated inher struggles in the Kenya Parliament, but her efforts contributedstrongly to found a national wide outcry for gender equality.Professor Phoebe Asiyo presented the Affirmative Action motion in1977 but the men dominated parliament voted against it (Adawoet.al, 2011).
In2007, another Kenyan gender equality figure and the then Justice andConstitutional Affairs Minister Martha W Karua presented a bill onconstitution amendment to allow women representation in parliament,proposing 50 women’s seats (nominated) to give the country’swomen representation in the parliament. The struggle for womenrepresentation and equality continued until year 2010, when thecountry promulgated a new constitution (Axtell,2011).The winning part for the feminist movement was in Article27, section8, which states that all state organs shall not have more than 2thirds members of one gender. In addition, Article 81 requires thatelective bodies show the same representation as article 27 (Adawoet.al, 2011).
Thismilestone has set a path to deal with such prevalent gender issues asFemale Genital Mutilation (FGM), poverty, women’s’ right to theiropinion and independence from the punitive traditional women’s roleas stipulated in most customary settings. The majority of theseissues are now already receiving widespread cross-gender support, andthe Kenyan feminism effort is really one of the frontline effortstowards gender equality.
Adawo,L.et.al (2011). Historyof .Available athttp://www.nawey.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/05/History-of-Feminism-in-Kenya.pdf
Axtell,B. (2011). Feminismin Kenya: A New Narrative.Available athttp://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/inter/feminism_in_kenya.html
Creager,A., Lunbeck, E., Schiebinger, L. (2001). Feminismin Twentieth-Century Science, Technology, and Medicine.University of Chicago Press