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Women’s agency and educational policy : The experiences of the women of Kilome-Kenya Kiluva-Ndunda, Mutindi Mumbua 1995

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Women’s Agency and Educational Policy:The Experiences of the Women of Kilome-Kenyabymutindi mumbua kiluva-ndundaB.Ed. (Science), University ofNairobi, 1983M.Ed., Queens University, 1990A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department ofEducational Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVE ITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1995© mutindi mumbua kiluva-ndunda, 1995In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)_____________Department of E DQCTt OPJ PrL- STU1 IThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate____________________DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis study examines women’s experiences of formal education in Kenya. Thestudy aims at making visible the cultural, historical, economic and political factors thatshaped, and continue to shape, women’s educational and employment opportunities. Italso highlights women’s agency exemplified in their struggle to provide their children, andparticularly their daughters, with educational opportunities. The study draws attention tothe gender and power issues that limit women’s participation in the public sphere. Theseare issues that policy makers, politicians, and development agents have not and still do notadequately address.The study employs post-positivist research methodologies, particularly feministmethodologies informed by post-colonial critiques. The women in this study are treated associal agents not as victims of men, and of economic and political trends. The womenformulate strategies aimed at influencing or shaping the social system in which they are apart. The women’s agency resides in their individual and communal endeavours and isconstantly reinvented in the context of political and social change.This research is an analysis of the experiences of 38 women born, raised and partlyschooled in Kilome division, Makueni district. It focuses on the educational experiencesof rural women living in two villages and a small town in Kilome division, Kenya. I usethe women’s discourse to critique the public discourse on education articulated in policydocuments produced in the last 30 years since independence in 1963.This study illustrates how women in Kenya have been largely absent at the nationallevel where educational policies are formulated. Policy making has remained male11dominated. Policy makers, charged with structuring and restructuring education to meetthe country’s development needs, continue to limit women’s agency to the private sphere.The formulation of policies from the male perspective has intensified the public and privatedichotomy. Absent in the public discourse on education has been the discussion of howgender, a social construction, has influenced opportunities available to men and women incolonial and post-colonial Kenya. Colonial gender constructions of femininity havecontinued to limit educational opportunities made available to women in post-colonialKenya.The Kenyan women in this study are cognizant of how these gendered assumptionsshaped, and continue to shape, women’s educational and employment opportunities. Theyre-negotiate and resist these gendered assumptions and they have become interventionagents for their children’s education. The women’s agency, however, is limited by theirlack of economic power. The interplay between gendered cultural assumptions aboutfemininity and the increased costs of schooling imposed by policy makers continue to havea negative impact on women’s education.111TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract 11Table of Contents ivList of Tables viList ofMaps ViAcknowledgements viiChapter One Introduction 1Background 3Rationale 4Overview of the Study 6Chapter Two Women in Kenya 8Women and Education in Kenya 10Women’s Economic Activities 18Women and The Family 26Women’s Self-Help groups 32Chapter Three Methodology 38Theoretical Framework 39Research Design 48Reflexivity 50The Research Sites 53Kithumba village 55Life in Kithumba Village 55Schooling in Kithumba 57Kithumba Women’s Self-help Group 58Kyandue Village 60Life in Kyandue Village 61Schooling in Kyandue 62Kyandue Women’s Self-help Group 63Salama Town 64LifeinSalama 66Schooling in Salama 67Salama Women’s Self-help Group 67Participants 69Interviewing 73Interview/Discussion Topics 74ivTranslation of Interviews 75Chapter Four Analysis of Education and DevelopmentPolicy Documents 84Ominde Report (1964) 90Sessional Paper # 10 :African Socialism (1965) 931974-78 Development Plan 96Gachathi Report (1976) 98Mackay Report (1981) 103Wanjigi Report (1982/83) 105Kamunge Report (1988) 1081989-93 Development Plan 110Ndegwa Report (1991) 112Chapter Five Kilome Women’s Educational Experiences 123Colonial Background 124Women’s Own Experiences of Education 126Educational Experiences ofwomen’s daughters 136Chapter Six Factors Limiting Girls’ Educational Opportunities 143High Cost ofEducation 144Traditional Preference to Educate Boys 147Assumption That Girls Will Get Married 149Girls’ Potential Motherhood 153Responsibility for Sex education 156Poverty 158Chapter Seven Intensification OfWomen’s Labour To EducateTheir Children And Its Implications 163linportance Women Attach to Educating Daughters 163Support for Mothers 164Support Own Families 167Making Marriage Choices 168Women’s Inability to Depend on Husbands forDaughters’ Education 175Intensification ofWomen’s Labour 177Employment 179Sale ofProperty and Farm Produce 182Petty Business 185Limitations on Women’s Efforts to Educate their Daughters 187Women’s Health 189Girls’ Education 191VChapter Eight “Help Me So That I May Help You”:Women’sSelf-Help Movement 195Kyandue Women’s Self-help Group 198Kithumba Women’s Self-Help Group 202Salama Women’s Self- Help Group 205Successes and Limitations 207Exclusiveness ofWomen’s Self-help Groups 209Chapter Nine Conclusions And Implications For Policy 214Research Problem 214Public And Private Discourses On Education 215Implications for Policy 227Support For Girls’ Education StartingAt The Village Level 231Re-entry of Adolescent Mothers into theSchool System 232Introducing Sex Education in Schools andCommunities 234Support for Women as Intervention Agents fortheir Daughters’ Education 235Significance of the Study 237References 239LIST OF TABLESTable 1. Participants: A Summary 72Table 2. Policy Reports Summary 122LIST OF MAPSMap 1: Research Sites 82viAcknowledgementsI want to thank God for giving me the courage, strength and perseverance tocomplete this dissertation. This work would not have come to completion without theguidance, encouragement, material and psychological support of my research supervisorycommittee, friends, family and colleagues. I am indebted to you all.I would like to express my sincere thanks to all members of my committee Drs.Jane Gaskell, Jean Barman, Deirdre Kelly and Leslie Roman for giving me guidance andsupport to bring this work to completion. To Jane Gaskell, I want to say a big thank youfor being my supervisor. I appreciate your guidance throughout my Ph.D. programmeand for your support and encouragement particularly at times when I felt trulydiscouraged. It was a pleasure working with you.I am thankful to Jean Barman for agreeing to participate as a member of myresearch committee at the eleventh hour. Thank you for all the time you spent to meetand discuss with me my work and to read all those drafts! Thank you for your genuineinterest in my work and for your support to the end. To Leslie Roman, I want to thankyou for being my teacher and for teaching me that researchers do not have to be “flies onthe wall” and that my work does do not have to be just another “discourse of horror”.Deirdre Kelly, thank you so much for all the time you took to find me relevant materialson my topic. I am grateful for the support you gave me when my father passed away. Ialso would like to thank Dr. Kivutha Kibwana of Nairobi University for his supportduring my fieldwork in Kenya.viiSpecial thanks go to Dr. Kogila Adam-Moodley who in her own way supportedme and my family during our stay in Canada. Dr. Peter Seixas, I appreciate your kindnessto me. Dr. Tony Clarke, I am grateful for the time you took to help me prepare for myorals. Your desire to support students is unmatched.I extend my gratitude and thanks to the Kilome women whose enthusiasm andgenerous participation made this study possible. I thank you for welcoming me into yourlives and sharing with me your experiences. I hope that this is just the beginning of ourwork together.I also would like to acknowledge and thank the International DevelopmentResearch Centre for the research funding that made it possible for me undertake myfieldwork in Kenya. Without this support, this work would not have been possible.Special thanks to Rita Bowry, Constance Lim and Estelle of the IDRC.There were many friends who worked so hard to make me cope with the pressureof being a mother, a black woman and a student here in Canada. These include PatO’Riley, Bev Lock and Renee Fountain (my white sisters). I want you to know that yourlove and support of me made me deal with the worst of crises. I cannot thank you enoughbut to hope that we will remain friends. To Jennifer Khamasi, I am grateful for yoursupport and encouragement. I appreciate the time you spent with me listening, talkingand discussing issues. I also would like to thank the following friends Janice, David,Faith Mama, Shibairo, Kithome, George, Rosa, Garry, Akosua, Yvonne Brown, Shauna,Tom, Darlane and Doris Mutta for their support. I want to thank Verna Fountain forbeing my mother so far away from home.viiiFinally, my special appreciation to my family. To my husband, Thomas, you havebeen a great support and critic of my work. You have helped so much in shaping thiswork. I thank you for enduring so much so that I could complete this work. You tookcare of the children so that I could spent time on this work. Thank you very much. Tomy children, Ndambuki and Nthenya, I want to thank for “praying without ceasing” forthis project to end. I wonder why but your prayers were surely heard and answered. Iknow you missed me a lot but I hope that your sacrifices are not in vain.To my dear brothers, sister and sisters-in-laws, Fred, Nzioka, Jimmy, Gerald,Gregory, Mumo, Faith, Nzilani, Regina and Rosemary I appreciate all yourencouragement, material and psychological support throughout all these years. Fred, I ammost indebted to you. Your intervention has made this work possible. Mumo, thank youso much for your love and kindness. To my mother, Hannah Ndoti, thank you so muchfor teaching me the importance of endurance. I thank you for your wisdom.I dedicate this thesis to the women of Kilome who struggle to offer their childreneducational opportunities and to my deceased father, Jonah Kiluva who had a passion foreducation. His spirit rejoices.ixChapter OneIntroductionThis is a study of women’s perceptions of the uses of education in Kenya. Thestudy focuses on rural women’s experiences of formal education in Kilome division,Makueni District, Kenya. The study aims at making visible the cultural, historical, social,economic and political factors that have shaped and continue to shape women’seducational and employment opportunities. It highlights women’s agency in their struggleto offer their children, and particularly their daughters, with educational and economicopportunities.In this study, the women narrate their stories in relation to education, highlightingtheir experiences of formal education and the constraints that they have faced and continueto face in Kenya today. The study is directed at exposing and drawing attention to thegender and power issues that limit women’s participation in education and in the formalemployment sector and that exacerbate gender inequalities and the subordination ofwomen. These are issues that policy makers, politicians, development agents, andeducators do not adequately address or challenge. This study examines these issuesfrom the standpoints ofwomen.The discussions with the women are centred around (a) education, (b) paid andunpaid work, (c) family and sexuality and, (d) women’s self-help groups. The womenarticulate their experiences relating to education in the past (their own) and in the present(their daughters), highlighting fears and hopes, possibilities and constraints that structuretheir daily lives. They also articulate their experiences concerning labour, paid and unpaid.1This makes visible the increasing demand for women’s labour as they intervene for theirfamilies’ welfare within a harsh social, economic and political climate. The discussion offamily and sexuality shows women’s perceptions of themselves, their daughters and their rolesin the family. The women do not define their agency simply around motherhood in the privatesphere. As Stamp (1995) argues, most women in Aflican communities have multiplesubjectivity as mothers, daughters, sisters, traders and farmers. She argues that thewomen’s multiple subjectivity is the bedrock of their agency in the Kenyan state today.Women’s participation in groups further highlights women’s collective agency. Iconstrue the women’s narratives as their private discourse on education, one that operatesin the family and in the community.I contrast the private discourse with the public discourse on education articulatedin policy documents, highlighting the contradictions and similarities between the differentnarrative standpoints. The public discourse regarding the purpose of education of menand women in Kenya is set out by male politicians, policy makers and internationaldevelopment agencies such as the World Bank. I analyze the following documentsproduced over the last 30 year period to document the public discourse: Ominde Reportof 1964, the first non-racial educational report in Kenya, Sessional Paper Number 10,derived from the Kanu Manifesto (1965), Gachathi Report (1976), MacKay Report(1981), Wanjigi Report (1982), Kamunge Report (1988) and Ndegwa Report (1991). Ialso analyze national Development Plans (1974-78; 1989-1993) because education is seenas an instrument ofnational development. The analysis of the private and public discourse2on education makes visible women’s agency and the systemic limitations women face inaccessing educational and economic opportunities in Kenya.BackgroundEducation occupies a central position in the national development plans of manycountries, including Kenya. Since independence in 1963, the government has set upseveral commissions and working parties to look into ways and means of structuring andrestructuring education to meet the country’s development needs. These commissions andworking parties have recommended policies that have served to shape education andeducational opportunities in Kenya. While women constitute over 50% of the populationof Kenya, gender issues that limit their participation in education and in the economy haveconsistently remained invisible to policy makers. This has maintained the lowrepresentation of women in all levels of education and in the labour market sinceeducational qualifications are used as criteria for hiring for employment in most areas inthe modern sector. The commissions that have been set up have emphasized the economicrather than the social function of education.While the public discourse on education has expressed a commitment to providingeducation to all Kenyans, absent in this policy discourse has been the discussion of howgender has influenced opportunities available to men and women in colonial and postcolonial Kenya. Gender is a social, cultural, economic and political construction of what itmeans to be a girl or a boy, a woman or a man. It is a social process that ascribescharacteristics and behaviours to women and men according to their biological sex (Eyre,31993). Gender constructions of femininity have continued to limit educationalopportunities made available to women in post-colonial Kenya.RationaleIn Kenya, men play a dominant role in all aspects of governance. Policy making,planning and development and implementation of policies and programmes in Kenyausually take the male perspective (Kibwana, 1992). The failure to address the impact ofseemingly gender-neutral educational policies has reinforced gender inequities ineducational opportunities. For instance, the implementation of the cost sharing strategy,where parents have to pay for schooling, has increased women’s workloads and intensifiedgirls’ struggle for educational opportunities. The interplay between gendered culturalassumptions about femininity and the increased costs of schooling have a negative impacton women’s education.The formulation of policies from the male perspective also intensifies the publicand private dichotomy on the basis of gender. Policy makers seem to confine thediscourse on women’s education to their agency in the private sphere. They do not viewwomen as economic and political agents in the public sphere alongside men. This has ledto the formulation of policies that have served to reinforce gender inequities in the publicsphere. This thesis proceeds on the assumption that gender and power issues must betaken as fundamental categories within which human social relations are organized(Harding, 1986).The government of Kenya professes to be committed to the provision of equalopportunities to all Kenyans irrespective of sex, race and religion. The government also4claims to be committed to addressing the unequal social, economic, and political status ofwomen in Kenya. However, in reality, the government is resistant to gender issues.Women, such as professor Wangari Mathai, who have voiced and articulated women’sconcerns, have frequently been met with severe and brutal repression. Mathai, the firstfemale professor of veterinary medicine in Kenya, and founder of the world renownedenvironmental GreenBelt movement, has consistently been arrested for challenging men’ssupremacy in making decisions that are gender biased and environmentally destructive.Women who attempt to exercise their political and economic agency in the public sphereare faced with a multitude of limitations. As Mathai (1991) observes, gender, marriageand ethnicity (among others) serve to limit women’s agency contrary to the popularpublicly promoted rhetoric that “the sky is the limit.”My experiences as a female child growing up in a rural area also inform this studyon gender and power issues nestled in cultural beliefs about women that limitwomen’ s/girls’ educational opportunities in the society. The clear gender division of rolesin my family were those of a mother, wife, care giver, and food producer. These wereroles that were limited to the private sphere and were not seen to require formaleducation. Women had performed these roles in the pre-colonial era before theintroduction of formal education and continued to learn them informally. On the otherhand, the man was the head of the household, though often he spent most of the time inthe city as a migrant worker. He was the “breadwinner,” the income earner, and one whomade all the decisions that shaped each and every household member’s life. Formaleducation was seen as necessary for his economic role. The woman’s unpaid labour,5though crucial to the survival of the family, was not as valued as the paid work performedby the man.About 50% of the girls who enrolled in the first year of primary level education(Standard 1) with me left school before completing this level to become mothers and/orwives or to work as domestic help. Less than 30% of the girls passed the secondary entryexaminations and even fewer completed that level. Only three of us completed the tertiarylevel of education. I am, therefore, personally aware of how gender and power factorsshape women’s educational and economic opportunities within the historical, social,economic and political context of Kenyan society.Overview of the StudyThrough the literature review in chapter 2, I examine the ways gender hasstructured Kenyan women’s participation in education, the economy and in the family.Chapter 3 deals with the methodology of my study. I first discuss the theoreticalframework and then I describe the research sites. Next, I discuss the participants, researchtopics and translation of interviews. Finally, I reflect on doing research as both an insiderand outsider in Kilome division. Chapter 4 analyzes the policy documents to show howpolicies have implications for the public sphere and how they limit women’s agency.Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8 present the interview data. Chapter 5 presents Kilome women’seducational experiences. Chapter 6 deals with cultural gendered assumptions that limitgirls’ participation in education. Chapter 7 examines the intensification of women’s labouras they struggle to educate their children. This includes an examination of rural women’seconomic activities within a gendered economy. Chapter 8 deals with women’s agency in6self-help groups and the potential as well as the limitations of these groups in addressingwomen’s concerns. In chapter 9, I contrast the women’s private discourse with the publicdiscourse on education emphasizing the contradictions as well as the similarities betweenthe narratives. Finally, I examine the implications of this study for policy and research.7Chapter TwoWOMEN IN KENYAEquality for women involves education but not just education. Equal access tobasic education is endorsed as a basic human right in The World Declaration on EducationFor All, and adopted by the world community in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990. One of thecentral objectives of The Declaration is the reduction in the current gender gap ineducation, which James Grant as Executive director of UNICEF has described as “genderapartheid” (UNICEF, 1992). Experts disagree, however, on how best to achieve genderequity. Roberston (1986) argues that basic education enhances subordination of womenbecause it does not offer women meaningful economic opportunities. Hughes & Mwiria(1989) argue for girls’ higher education which they claim has a greater potential forenhancing equity for Kenyan women in the labour market. Specifically, they note thatequity for Kenyan women is elusive if factors that limit women’s access to scientific andtechnical skills and exclude them from important areas of the labour market are notaddressed. In the same vein Mbilinyi (1972) argues that:The only way that African women will ever be able to advance beyond theirpresent state of social, political, [economic] and legal inferiority is by gettingwage-earning jobs.... But without the necessary technical skills and vocationaltraining women will remain unemployed or have access only to the lowest-leveljobs. (p. 63)Gender discrimination, in addition to education, limits women’s opportunities inthe formal employment sector. Assumptions about appropriate roles and suitable careersfor women are used to deny them opportunities. Women in Kenya, like many of their8counterparts elsewhere in the world, do not receive remuneration equivalent to that ofmen with comparable educational attainment (Kagia, 1985; UNICEF/GOK, 1992). Thefew women who participate in the formal employment sector are concentrated intraditional female occupations characterised by low remuneration, few or no benefits andlittle opportunity for advancement. In the 1990s, women are experiencing moredifficulties than men in securing work in the formal employment sector (InternationalLabour Organization (ILO), 1991). Gendered assumptions shape women’s lives in waysthat limit their participation in public institutions (education, economy and politics) inKenya. Gender is central to the way in which power, property, prestige, educational andemployment opportunities are organized, regulated and distributed. However, women arenot a coherent group, rather, women are constituted as women through the complexinteraction between class, culture, religion and other ideological institutions andframeworks. “They are not ‘women’ a coherent group--solely on the basis of a particulareconomic system or policy” (Mohanty, 1991, pp. 63-64).This chapter is a review of literature that explores the nature of women’s strugglefor equal opportunities in Kenya within the framework of “gender stratification in whichpower, property, prestige and social recognition are organized, regulated, distributed andgiven meanings” (Alberg-Maina, 1991, p. 35). The literature explores the factors whichsets limits on women’s agency both in the private and public sphere. This is importantbecause rural women struggle to provide their daughters educational opportunities toparticipate as economic and political agents in the public sphere.9In the first section I examine women’s educational opportunities in Kenya focusingon possibilities and constraints that women face. The second section is on women and theeconomy. Thirdly, I discuss women and the family, and the final section is on women’sself-help groups followed by a set of conclusions.Women and Education in KenyaJennifer Riria-Ouko is one of the most outspoken proponents of women’seducation in Kenya. Her analysis of education, its functions, structure and output inrelation to women, demonstrates that women have been “forgotten, neglected anddiscriminated against in the provision of educational opportunities” (1984, p.’7).Gender inequities in provision of educational opportunities in Kenya havehistorical and cultural bases (Mukui, 1985). Formal education was introduced to Kenyaby the Christian missionaries in the middle of the 19th century (Kurian, 1987). Later,education was developed by the colonial government along gender and racial lines.Colonial education severely restricted the education of Africans and almost totallyignored the education of girls (Kagia, 1985). Colonialists, missionaries, and indigenouspeople all used gender as a criterion for deciding who would receive formal education.Between 1950-1954, only 1197 girls as compared to 7419 boys passed the secondary levelentrance examinations and only 157 girls compared to 2875 boys sat for the CambridgeSchool Certificate Examinations--grade 12 equivalent (Kagia, 1985). Women weresystematically excluded from participation in education and thereby from the modememployment sector as formal education credentials and gender became vital criteria.10Since independence in 1963, Kenya has made significant progress in providingeducational services to all Kenyans. The combined efforts of parents, local communities,government and non-governmental organizations have resulted in high participation inbasic education. The national enrolment1 rate at the primary level in 1991 was 95%compared to 50% at independence and the enrolment rates of boys and girls in primaryschool are steadily approaching parity. Kenya follows the 8-4-4 (8 years of primary, 4years of secondary and 4 years of university education) system of education. Primaryeducation is from Standard 1 (6 years old) to Standard 8 (ages 14 and above). Mostprimary schools are coeducational while most secondary schools continue to be divided bygender. In 1991 girls constituted 48.7% of the total enrolment in primary schools, agender ratio that has remained constant since 1989. Nevertheless, few girls arecompleting this level of education. A large number of girls who enrol in Standard 1 dropout of school before they reach Standard 8. For example, of the 864,593 pupils whoenrolled in Standard One in 1984, 58.4 % of the girls and 53.6% of the boys left schoolbefore completing Standard Eight in 1991 (t.JNICEF/GOK: Women and Children,Situation Analysis, 1992; Economic Survey, 1992). Though the statistical differencebetween the drop out rates among boys and girls are not great, the factors that lead to thehigh drop out rates among the girls and the fate of those girls who drop out are significant.National enrolment rates conceal serious gender, regional and socio-economic disparitiesin enrolment, participation and achievement (UNICEF/GOK, 1992).‘National enrolment rate is the percentage of enrolment of all school age children.11The high drop out rates among girls in the primary level of education areassociated with (a) high pregnancy rates among girls in senior primary levels, (b) hightuition and non-tuition fees, (c) cultural and traditional practices such as child bride andnomadic practices, and d) poverty resulting in child labour. Primary school girls areamong the increasing number of adolescent mothers in Kenya. In 1986, 12 girls per 1,000who were enrolled in the secondary level of education left school due to pregnancy(UNICEF/GOK, 1992). Riria-Ouko (1984) points out that despite the fact that many girlsare leaving school early because of pregnancies and lack of school fees,The educational system seems to blame the girls in this respect instead of helpingthem to go through the system as well as the boys. Lack of the system tosympathize with the girls’ plight in this respect translates into lack of proper andadequate schools for girls, victimization as a result of pregnancy and constructionof expensive boarding schools (that the girls will never enter). (p. 8)Girls who get pregnant are blamed and are forced to withdraw from the formal educationsystem. Pregnancy marks the end of formal school for most of these girls.The increasing cost of education exacerbated by the implementation of the cost-sharing strategy by the government of Kenya has become another major barrier to girls’educational opportunities. The burden of tuition and non-tuition fees has been too heavyon most parents in rural areas, forcing them to make choices about who is to be educatedand for how long. Often, the choice has been to invest in the education of boys forcultural and economic reasons. Therefore,Cost-sharing, unless implemented with great sensitivity to gender concerns, islikely to disadvantage women and girls at all levels. When poor parents are forcedto choose between investing in a male child or a female child, the majority willchoose their sons. (UNICEF/GOK, 1992, p. 108)12Poverty as well as gendered cultural beliefs about the role of girls and women inthe society also limit girls’ educational opportunities. The widespread rural-urban malemigration and changing social relations in Kenya have resulted in women becoming defacto heads of households and heads of households who must bear all or a large part of theburden of educating their children. Because female heads of households have limitedaccess to resources such as land on which they could produce foodstuffs to provide fortheir families, girls from such households are likely to drop out of school. Cubbin (1991)argues that in Kenya, women’s economic power increases girls’ educational opportunitiessince “economic power is the strongest determinant ofgender-based privilege in a society”(p. 1064).Girls enjoy a much lower status than boys in the cultural, economic, political,religious and traditional context that prevails in much of Kenya. From an early age, boysand girls are taught skills and assigned duties in accordance with traditional gender-specific division of labour. Girls are likely to enrol in school late because of a need forchild labour and they are likely to be overburdened with household chores which adverselyaffect their school performance. Girls who enrol late in school will reach adolescence andpuberty at lower primary levels where there is a higher chance of performing poorly ordropping out of school due to pregnancy or marriage. Hyde (1993) notes that among subSaharan countries, Kenya included, factors responsible for the second-class status ofwomen in education include:Ideas about the appropriate roles for women in the labor market or in society,about the biological unsuitability of women for science, and about the genderbased division of work in the household and on the farm influence decisions aboutschooling as do income, class, religion, and rural or urban residence. (p. 108)13Girls are more likely than boys to be withdrawn from school by their parents tohelp with household chores or to render services as maids (child labourers) to help feedtheir families. In addition, young girls are married off as child brides to elderly men forbridewealth, part of which is likely to finance the education of male siblings. Laws thatprohibit the practice of child brides and child labour are not enforced just like many otherlaws that grant women equal opportunities and treatment in Kenya.Few Third World countries have national policies in place to expand access tohigher education opportunities for women (Biraimah, 1991) and Kenya is no exception.The education system is a sharp pyramid with girls’ enrolments decreasing as they moveup the educational ladder, resulting in fewer girls than boys in the secondary level andeven fewer in the tertiary levels of education (Riria, 1984; Economic Survey, 1991;Rathgeber, 1991). Of the 400,000 Kenyan children who complete the primary cycle, onlyabout 40% gain access to secondary schools. In 1990, girls represented 43% of the171,071 students enrolled in the first year of the secondary level of education (UNICEF,1992; Republic ofKenya Statistical Abstracts, 1991; Women’s Bureau/STDA, 1993).Modest progress has been made to increase the number of girls attendingsecondary level of education in Kenya. However, the limited number of governmentmaintained secondary schools for girls, poor course selection, high drop out rates due tohigh tuition fees and high pregnancy rates and curriculum limit girls’ education at thesecondary level of education (Eshiwani 1985). The poor quality of the schools that girlsattend negatively influence girls’ educational experiences in terms of achievement, subjectoptions and career choice. By 1990 there were 2,658 secondary schools in Kenya of which14635 were government-maintained (public) and 1,755 were harambee (community sponsored)schools and 268 were private schools. National schools are well established academicgovernment schools which are boarding and recruit Form 1 students on a national basis.Harambee schools are created and maintained through community self-help. Thegovernment posts a small number of trained graduate2teachers to harambee schools. InKenya girls primarily attend harambee schools that have poorer equipment, less-qualifiedteachers and more limited curricula than the government maintained schools that boys arelikely to attend (King & Hill, 1993). In 1979, girls represented only 33% of the students ingovernment maintained schools.3 Several studies have shown that girls’ performance insecondary level examination is better in government-maintained schools than in harambeeand better in girls only schools (King & Hill, 1993).Government-maintained schools admit students who excel in the nationalsecondary school entrance examinations. Girls, particularly those living in the rural areas,have fewer chances of excelling in their secondary school entry examinations. The rural-urban migration of males to the cities has left women and girls responsible for thedomestic labour that sustains a household. The need for girls’ labour affects their schoolattendance and allocation of study time which in turn affects their school achievement.The majority of the few rural girls who excel in their secondary entrance examinations andare admitted into government maintained schools end up in harambee schools becausetheir parents cannot afford to pay tuition, boarding fees and related fees charged ingovernment maintained schools. Pressed by lack of resources, most parents are able only2Graduate teachers are those teachers who have a degree in education.3These are the latest statistics available. Later reports do not show enrolment along gender lines in thedifferent types of schools in Kenya.15to pay the secondary school fees by installments. These arrangements seem only possiblein harambee schools where the principal is a members of the same community and knowshis/her students’ parents.Girls in the secondary level of education are conditioned to gender biased learningmaterials and classroom dynamics that affect their performance in national examinations atall levels of education (Hughes & Mwiria, 1989; Obura, 1992; Osler, 1993). Girls’ overallperformance in the university entry examinations taken at the end of secondary leveleducation is poor. This is particularly so in science and mathematics subjects and explainsthe low representation of girls in science and science related careers in tertiary institutions(Eshiwani, 1985). Studies show that girls’ performance in science and mathematicssubjects is influenced by the quality of schools that they attend, by sexism in schools,particularly in coeducational schools and by anticipated discrimination in the labourmarket. Riria-Ouko (1984) points out that most girls’ schools are not as well equipped asboys’ schools to teach science subjects at the secondary level. Girls’ performance inscience subjects and mathematics has been shown to be better in girls’ only schools(Ndunda & Munby, 1991; Rathgeber, 1991). Girls who do not perform well in scienceand mathematics subjects are eliminated from science and science related careers whichare in demand and well remunerated.Girls’ construction of science futures is limited by traditional notions of femininityand anticipated discrimination in the labour market particularly if they pursue careers thatare male-dominated. Girls tend to choose careers that will allow them eventually to provetheir femininity by becoming wives and mothers. They choose careers where they feel16they are less likely to be discriminated against in the labour market and which arecompatible with their gender roles as mothers and/or wives (Ndunda & Munby, 1991).In 1990, for instance, most girls in the final year of secondary education wereenrolled in home science (87 %) and typing with office practice (96.3%) and very few girlschose pure science subjects and/or trades courses in this level. In the same year, girlsrepresented 34% (11,783) of the total number of students enrolled in pure science subjectsand their enrolment in wood work, metal work, building construction, power mechanics,electricity was minimal at 3%, 1%,8.7%, 4.1% and 1.9% respectively (Republic of Kenya,Statistical Abstracts, 1991, p. 188).Therefore, at the primary and secondary levels of education, girls are dropping outof school in considerable large numbers. At the secondary level they have continued toattend poorer quality schools in disproportionately high numbers and have restrictedaccess to a broad range of curricula particularly in sciences. Fewer girls are reaching thetertiary level of education. Women in Kenya are encumbered by a plethora of barriers toeducational opportunities.Providing women with more education without changing the gender and powerstructures that reinforce and perpetuate gender inequities will not facilitate women’saccess to educational, employment level and political opportunities equal to those of theirmale counterparts. The stratification of the society along gender lines makes it possible tolimit women’s educational opportunities as well as to deny educated, capable womenpositions of power in a male-dominated socio-cultural system (Hughes & Mwiria).17Feldman (1983) argues that “women in Kenya suffer the impact of gender relations whichplace them firmly in a position of economic subordination” (p. 67).Women’s Economic ActivitiesThe number ofwomen participating in wage employment in Kenya continues to below (Economic Survey, 1992). The current employment patterns of women havehistorical, cultural, social, economic and political underpinnings. Stamp (1989) arguesthat central to the nature of African society before colonialism was the prominent role ofwomen in economic production. African women had substantial rights to control themeans of production and own the product of their labour. Women in pre-colonial Kenyaexercised political authority, as sisters of their natal lineage and through their elders’organizations in their marital lineage. With the colonial, postcolonial and neocolonial eras,women have lost their traditional autonomy and authority (Stamp, 1989; Boserup, 1970).Robertson (1986) argues that colonialism introduced urbanization and intensifiedclass and gender differences that existed in precapitalist societies. Cash cropping wasintroduced mainly to men, who also found more opportunities for wage labour. Pressuredby the need to pay taxes, virtually everyone was brought directly or indirectly into thenexus of a commercial economy. Colonialism introduced new mechanisms of exploitationand imposed aspects of Western culture--Christianity, formal education, westerntechnology, higher living standards for the new upper class, and new forms of patriarchalideology and practice. These have all had a negative impact on the social status of mostwomen in Africa.18Robertson (1986) points out that:As European sexism was added to patriarchal elements in indigenouscultures, sex roles changed to the detriment of women and they lostpolitical power. While women retained responsibility for feeding theirfamilies, the prevalence of male labour migration in many areas left them todo even more of the agricultural work. Colonialism not only exacerbatedinequality, but ultimately turned over governmental mechanisms ofextracting wealth to new African ruling classes [after independence]. (p. 6)Colonialism introduced private and public dichotomies in Kenya and mechanisms whichdrew men into the public space and limited women’s participation within the privatesphere.A study of early wage earners in Kenya by Stitchter (1976) shows thatopportunities for paid employment were provided by the colonial administrators alonggender and racial lines. Men constituted the major source of labour migration but womenperformed the tasks arising out of the relationship between male wage-earning and thefamily. The interplay between traditional and the newly emergent division of labour forcedwomen to remain at home subsidizing the husband’s wage through expanded agriculturaland trading activities in addition to their household and childrearing tasks. Stitchter(1976) notes that:Large scale entry ofwomen into the labour force was precluded under the migrantresident labour system because the low wages paid to men depended on thecontinuance of women’s subsistence production. . . .there were few opportunitiesfor wage employment in urban areas for women. (quoted in ILO, 1986 Report,pp. 1-2)Most women entered wage employment only after World War II in large scaleagriculture where they worked as casuals on seasonal basis. The non-agricultural labourwage force occupations in which women were absorbed were mostly as domestic servants19as a result of a policy aimed at “freeing “ men from “this unproductive sphere ofemployment [for] which women are far more suited” (Obbo, 1980; ILO 1986 Report).The gender segregated workforce that exists today can also be traced topostcolonial policies that regulated entry into the formal employment sector. For example,an examination of postcolonial career training policies for producing highly skilledAfrican/Kenyan personnel for the modern formal sector reveals the reinforcement of aninstitutionalized gender segregated workforce. In the document entitled “Helping youchoose a career” produced by the Kenyanization of Personnel Bureau in 1968, a list wasgiven of career opportunities available in government and private companies. Theprerequisites included sex, age, educational credentials and subjects in that order. Onlytwo of the 150 careers in the formal employment sector were open to “girls only”. Thesewere careers in nursing and in secretarial work. Over half of the career opportunities wereopen to “boys or men only.” The rest were open to both girls and boys and a majority ofthem required good passes in science and mathematics (Republic of Kenya: Ministry ofLabour, 1968). Even though the latter careers were “open” to girls, the prerequisites ofage and good passes in science and mathematics and the prevailing gender relationseliminated girls in the competition for career training and participation in the formalemployment sector.Although overt gender discrimination policies in the provision of employmentopportunities have been replaced with supposedly gender neutral ones, women are stilltrapped in female preserves of employment. Feldman (1983) argues that in Kenya theprevailing gender relations and the ideology legitimating them continue to prevent women20from moving into existing male preserves of employment which, not coincidentally, alsocommand relatively higher wages than those women have been permitted. This can beassociated with women’s lack of scientific and technical skills and discrimination againstwomen in the labour market. Feldman (1983) notes that:Although Kenyan women are juridically equal to men before the law, their legalstatus is in many respects characterised by assumptions of dependence on men,which are expressed not only in marriage and divorce laws, but also in contractlaw, property law, and even some aspects of criminal law. . . . Despite apparentequality before the law, then this assumption of dependence effectivelydiscriminates against women, and there is no law in Kenya which protects againstsex discrimination as such. (p. 69)At present sex discrimination is not illegal in Kenya and women find it difficult tochallenge laws and policies that discriminate against them on the basis of sex. Section 82of the constitution ofKenya allows discrimination by sex (UNICEF/GOF, 1992).Current analysis of wage employment by industry and sex shows that femaleparticipation as a proportion of total formal/modem4sector employment in 1989 was20.9%, the same level as in 1988. Males accounted for 79.1% of total formal employmentand dominated in all industries. The highest number of males were employed inagriculture and forestry, manufacturing, education services and public administration(Economic Survey, 1990). By 1991 the proportion of females employed in the formalemployment sector had grown to 22.1% (Economic Survey, 1992). Most women areeconomically active in the informal sector in agriculture, crafts, or commerce as low level,self-employed producers or traders. They are rarely in the new economic sectors4Formal and informal sectors are two contrasting sectors that exist in the economy. The former is moreorganized and modem in nature. It is characterised by capital intensive technology and has high wages forits employees, large scale operations and corporate or governmental organization. The latter is mostlyunorganized. Traditionally, its employees have less education, and are unskilled and lowly paid. Thesector is labour intensive (Women’s Bureau/SIDA, 1993).21considered vital for future economic development such as manufacturing, science,technology and communications.Women in the formal employment sector predominate in secretarial work, nursing,primary school teaching, and unskilled and casual work. In all these occupations, womenearn significantly less than their male counterparts. Comparisons of men’s and women’searnings in regular employment conceal the fact that “over a fifth of women employed inthe formal sector are employed as casuals, and hence in worse conditions with worseterms of service than regular employees” (ILO, Jobs and Skills Programme for Africa(JASPA), 1981, pp. 5-6). Women’s total average earnings amount to less than half (49%)of men’s. In the urban labour market that absorbs most of the workforce and offerssecure, relatively well paid work (full time, paid work in formal sector) women’s earningsare 55% of men’s (1991 ILO Report). In 1988, 92.6% of most senior civil servants weremen and earned the highest salaries in the civil service scale. Women constituted 25% ofall civil servants in 1988 and 92% of them were in Job Group G (salary level) and below,the higher rank being Group T and the lowest being Group A. Only 8.2 % of femaleswere on or above Job Group H, the starting scale for most university graduates5(Women’s BureaulSIDA, 1993, p. 12).Women are also active in the informal non-farm sector, where in 1990 theyconstituted about 28% of the total wage employment (ILO Report, 1991). This sectorincludes small scale workshop, manufacturing, commerce and retail trade. Incomegeneration in the informal sector continues to be of special importance and interest towomen because they are discriminated against in access to formal sector employment and51n Kenya the term “graduate” refers individuals who have completed university level of education.22entry into the informal sector is easier, especially for self-employment. Urban women whohead households are heavily dependent for livelihood on the informal sector. They cannotafford to be unemployed and they take whatever work they can find (ILO Report, 1991).Women, however, are underrepresented in the informal sector enterprises because theylack the skills and capital required for self-employment.Women living in the rural areas are multiply disadvantaged when it comes to wageemployment. These women have less formal education to compete in the formalemployment sector. The rural-urban development dichotomy, with an emphasis on anurban-based formal employment sector, has made it difficult for women to participate inwage employment. The concentration of both the formal and informal employmentsectors in the urban areas has left rural areas with minimum employment opportunities.Because of the unavailability of employment and the demanding gender specific roles thatoccupy women’s daily lives, their employment participation rates in the rural areas are lessthan in the urban areas (JASPA, 1981). The dichotomy between “man the producer” and“woman the reproducer” is accentuated, though in reality rural women assume functions wellbeyond the role usually associated with a “housewife.” In rural areas in most parts of Africa,women do 30% of ploughing, 50% of planting, 60% of livestock work, 60% of harvesting,70% of weeding, 85 % of processing and storing and 95% of domestic work (Chlebowska,1990).The tasks that women do have increased in difficulty and intensity with the migration ofmen to the cities in search of employment, increased primary education of children, particularlygirls, and population pressure which has resulted in more intensive land use. Whilst women23bear all the domestic responsibilities, they are often forced to cariy out extra work such astraditional beer brewing6or hiring themselves out as casual labourers on neighbouring farms inorder to meet household financial needs (JASPA, 1981). Feldman (1983) points out that ruralwomen in Kenya are burdened by heavy workloads which impede their participation ineconomic activities.Some women in the rural areas find employment in the agricultural sector in plantationsand farms. In 1990 women represented 23% ofthe work force in this sector, where over 50%of them were employed as casuals and on a seasonal basis (Economic Survey, 1991, JASPA,1981). The 1981 ILO study on Kenyan rural women’s employment opportunitiesexamined women’s employment patterns and their working conditions in factories, farmsand plantations located in rural areas. The study found that (a) women’s work in thefarms and plantations was generally unskilled; (b) a disproportionately high number ofwomen were employed on casual terms; (c) women received low pay; (d) women wereexcluded from promotion; (e) women were excluded from supervisory positions; (f)gendered assumptions were used to rationalize women’s inferior positions in employment.Women were seen as working to supplement their husbands’ wages rather than working intheir own right. The view that women only work as wives is used to justily the casualconditions under which women are employed in the farms and plantations.It is important to note that very few rural women have found employment in theseplantations and farms because these employment opportunities are limited to a fewgeographical regions. Only 17% ofKenya is arable land, and Kilome division, which is the6Few women can earn any income from traditional beer brewing because it has been made illegal. Illegalbrewers, however, do exist. The only person authorized to brew traditional beer is the wealthy retiredcommander of the anned forces, who is the current Minister for Lands and Settlement.24region of Kenya where I collected data for this study, lies outside these regions. Thereare no farms and plantations in Kilome division and/or in the neighbouring divisions inwhich women can find wage employment. Kilome women have stringent, more limitedincome opportunities than those women in regions where there are big farms, plantationsor factories. Thus, women’s conditions are structured by complex situations that havesimilarities as well as differences. Just as women are not a monolith, rural women cannotbe assumed to be subject to similar situations irrespective of their setting.With the limited employment opportunities for women, particularly for the womenwho form almost 80% of the rural population, land becomes an invaluable resource towomen. Women who have access to arable land are able to generate income from small-hold farming. Women’s independent access to land is crucial.This is especially a problem for women who are single heads of households and forother women who suffer from the fact that under land reform legislation, land inKenya is almost exclusively allocated to men. Access is not guaranteed to those inwhose name the land is not registered but who have traditionally had the right touse it, especially female relatives (wives, mothers, sisters, unmarried daughters).As population pressure reduces the size of plots, this lack of security to womenmakes them very vulnerable to landlessness. (JASPA report, 1981, p. 3)Without land women cannot plant food to feed their families. In addition, they cannotacquire credit since land is the only property that rural people can use as collateral.Women’s farm income, particularly in female-headed households is limited by size ofaccessible holding and access to labour and farm machinery. Women who live with theirhusbands face the problem of overall farm resources and of the distribution of incomerealized through crop sales. Although women contribute almost all the labour towardscultivation, they do not have automatic right to the use of the income from the sale of cash25crops. The need for women to feed, clothe and educate their children demands that theyinvolve themselves in other income activities such as being casual labourers or cultivatingfood crops and vegetables which they sell to neighbours and in local markets. Theseneeds have increased the workload for women.Women and the FamilyStudies of African families in precolonial times allude to a gender based sharpdivision of labour in the family (Muthiani, 1973). Most of the ethnic groups in Kenyapracticed a bridewealth marriage system. Through marriage, women were (and still are)affiliated to their husband’s patrilineage and secured lineage membership for theiroffspring. Hakansson (1988) studied the Abagusii bridewealth system and concluded thatthe man was the head of the household and made decisions that affected the family. Hebuilt a house for his wife or wives, cleared the bush, and prepared land for her and assistedin cultivation. The wife was expected to obey her husband’s directives, performagricultural tasks, execute all manner of household chores, cook for her family and forvisitors, and behave respectfully towards her husband’s friends, relatives and parents. Heconcluded that “a wife was under the complete formal authority of her husband and noparty outside the homestead could interfere with his treatment of her” (p.52). Stamp(1989) disputes the idea of an autonomous male head of household in bridewealthsystems. She argues that in the complexity of the family in precolonial Africa, authorityand power were not conterminous. “Relationships between fathers and sons, betweenbrothers, between cowives and their husband, and between Sisters and brothers made itvery difficult to assign ‘head of household’ status to one individual” (p. 56).26Stamp (1986 & 1989) points out that because many hand-hoe cultivating precolonialsocieties in Sub-Saharan Africa were patrilineal, a woman’s social status was closelylinked with bearing and rearing children within the family setting. A woman could bedivorced but she could not divorce her husband. Among the Kamba, the ethnic group ofthe women who participated in my study, a woman could leave her husband temporarily.“Since social status was tied to social relations, divorce was rare because each side had totry all it could to keep the existing ties” (Muthiani, 1973, pp. 46-48).In the modern setting, the image of a woman as a potential mother and wiferemains. McAdoo & Were (1987) argue that family life is very important for women and menin Kenya. Women still play important roles in family networks. The family, and in particularmotherhood, offers a woman the opportunity for influence as both elder sister and mother ofgrown sons living in the same household. This implies that the concept of a family in theAfrican context is complex. It is not a bounded unit of society that consists of a man and hisfamily (Stamp, 1989). McAdoo and Were (1987) conclude that, despite urbanization and theinfluence of westernization, motherhood is still highly valued by most women in Kenya. InKenya, motherhood is a powerflul conceptual weapon used by both progressive andconservative forces in the battle to define women’s political and social place (Stamp,1995).Regardless of what benefits motherhood accrues to women, in the present settingwomen continue to bear the main responsibility for the welfare of families and they areresponsible for the provision of the physical labour required to accomplish these domestictasks. In the present social, economic and political circumstances in Kenya, theresponsibilities of women, and mothers and wives in particular, have increased27tremendously. In colonial and postcolonial times, the sexual division of labour alonggender lines has become a relationship of dominance and exploitation of women in theirprovision of non-wage labour (Freeman, 1988).Kenyan women’s experiences of labour both in the private and public sphere arenot uniform. For instance, the domestic tasks of urban, middle-class, educated, wagedKenyan women could not be similar to those of peasant women living in the rural areas orin the urban slums of Nairobi. Women’s experiences are structured by class, culture,religion and other ideological institutions and frameworks (Mohanty, 1991).Stitcher’s (1988) study on middle class families in Nairobi found that domesticwork is still considered a woman’s responsibility. Even though an employed woman canemploy a housegirl (maid) to provide child care as well as help with the domestic work,the wife is by far the principal person responsible for domestic work. Stichter argues thatdomestic work, child care and modern values have increased the amount of time in putconsidered necessary. She notes that:The middle-class mother often feels she should set aside time specifically for childsocialization, particularly to prepare children early for the highly competitiveschool system. But she has little time for such work; employment cannot becombined with child care as it can in a peasant society... . Many middle incomewomen express worry about the discrepancy between their ideals of child-rearingand the time they are able to give to it. In particular, they worry about theinfluence of the housegirl on the children since she is the one who spends the mosttime with them when they are young. (pp. 196-97)Despite the help that a middle-class working wife gets from the housegirl or maid,Stichter’s study found that the wife is the person who most frequently prepares and servesmeals, purchases food, does the washing, and takes care of the children in the evening.The housegirl’s range of work is limited and the husband’s contribution to household28work is negligible. Stichter notes that husbands will help take children to school if theyhave a car.7A working wife and mother is responsible for finding a housegirl to help out withdomestic work. This means that if the housegirl leaves, which is often the case, thewoman has to arrange for alternate childcare until she finds a replacement. She is the oneto miss work if no alternative childcare can be made and to travel to the rural areas to finda housegirl. As Stichter (1988) points out,The housegirl system poses a number of labour management problems for the wife.The first is finding and retaining a housegirl in a situation of fairly high turnover.This is normally the wife’s responsibility, and it may involve a trip to the ruralarea. If a housegirl leaves, the wife may have to lose a week or so of work findinganother one, with the result that her employer will be annoyed and inconvenienced.(p. 199)Consequently, women face tremendous pressure to balance their careers and thetraditional homemaker roles. Women in Kenya are caught up in the dilemma ofaccomplishing their roles as mothers and workers under the present definitions. Kenyanwomen are involved in a struggle to gain a living and satisfy the social and cultural“worlds” they occupy (Johnson & Bernstein, 1984).Mothers must organize domestic help so that they may participate in paidemployment. Working women then worry about the quality of care that their childrenreceive from the poorly educated housegirls who care for their children while they are ati find it hard to believe Stitcher’s observations that husbands are more likely to take children to schoolif they have a car. I have lived in both of the estates where Stichter did her research in Nairobi from1973-88. During this time I saw a good number of men with their children waiting for public transport(matatus minibuses) to lake their children to school and then proceed to their offices. However,traveling in Nairobi in the morning is a nightmare. Therefore, many parents avoid enroffing theirchildren in schools that are far from their homes which require the children to lake public means sincethe city has no special transport for children. The other solution has been to pay for private transport forthe children.29work (Stitcher, 1988). Mothers are struggling to balance these doubly important roleswhich in most cases becomes an impossibility because of the separation between the homeand the work place. The work space is not organized to take in account the women’snumerous responsibilities as wives, mothers, workers and all other responsibilities thatwomen undertake as members of extended families. The separation between the publicand private spheres limit women’s participation in wage employment. It also givesemployers the leeway to discriminate and exploit women as workers. Women are deniedpositions of power on claims that their gender roles as mothers and wives make themunsuitable for such positions. In the present setting, elements ofpatrilineal sexual divisionof labour from precapitalist societies have been retained in dominated and distorted formsand combined with Victorian and Christian notions of male superiority to create an imageof women that reflects inferiority (Obbo, 1980; Stamp, 1989).In the household, an employed wife is faced with contradictions as she is viewedwith ambivalence (Munachonga, 1988). On one side her income is perceived as havingfinancial advantages for her husband because it relieves his economic burdens and enableshim to keep more of his earnings for personal use or on other wives he may have sincepolygymy is sanctioned under customary law. At the same time, the wife’s access toindependent income is considered to have a negative effect on marriage and family stability(Munachonga, 1988). For many women, maintaining a balance between a successfulcareer and making a home is a stressfiul exercise. “It is like swimming against the current”(Kiiti, 1993, p.17). Therefore, even those women who acquire education and become30economic agents in the public sphere continue to be primarily responsible for domesticchores in the private sphere.For women in the rural areas, their non-waged activities are almost limitless. Theyperform the bulk of domestic work which includes subsistence agriculture, childrearing,care for the aged and sick, housework and all other work required to sustain thehousehold. Women’s reproductive and productive roles have been intensified with malemigration from the rural areas. This phenomenon has resulted in de facto female heads ofhouseholds where husbands are away for long periods of time leaving the wife to supportthe family, although there may be income from the husband iffegularly (Due, 1991).Stamp (1986) argues that rural women are the backbone of Kenyan peasantry andare doubly dominated as peasants who are a dominated class within underdevelopedcapitalism, and as women who are a dominated category within the peasantry. Ruralwomen’s labour is exploited to maintain the unequal exchange of primary commodities onthe international markets (Stamp, 1989). Wages in underdeveloped countries are rarelysufficient to support a family; therefore, women are expected to engage in subsistenceagriculture for the survival of the family. The provision of non-waged labour by women,the growing of food for subsistence and sale on marginal land, is necessary for thecontinuation of the unequal exchange upon which the sale of primary commodities on theworld market is based (Freeman, 1988).Women are expected to produce food crops to support their families and are alsoexpected to produce commodity surplus which their husbands may then appropriate. Thenetwork of laws and economic practices by the state in Kenya sanctions or requires this31appropriation through the land consolidation and cash crop farming and marketingorganizations. Since the 1950s land has been transferred from lineage ownership to maleheads of households. This has legally made the product of the land the property of theindividual husband even though women carry the burden of production for no wage(Stamp, 1989).An examination of women’s individual and group activities in Kenya reveals,however, concerted efforts by women to retain control of their work and products of it.In Kenya, women’s resistance to the appropriation of their labour by men and the state hastaken many forms including refusal to adopt new cultivation practices, refusal to growcertain crops or cutting back on their production. Stamp (1989) points out that thechanneling of women’s earnings into self-help groups is a form of resistance by women tothe appropriation of their labour by the international commodity market through theagency of their husbands or male relatives.Women’s Self-Help groupsWomen in rnral communities are using pre-colonial gender based organizing strategiesto form women’s groups to cope, shape and resist their social conditions characterisedby harsh economic, social and political changes. Women’s groups in the traditionalsetting became necessary as a collective geared at identil’ing a task and putting their resourcestogether to work on the task (Republic of Kenya: Women’s Bureau, 1992). Women’scustomary organizations, such as age-groups for the Kikuyu, Myethya or work parties for theKamba, have developed into selfhelp groups with new functions overlaying the old (Stamp,321986). The original objectives and aims of the traditional organizations have changed toaccommodate the rapid political and socio-economic changes taking place in the country.Women’s self-help groups have grown to be associated with the harambee orcommunity self-help movement whose main objective is mobilizing and revitalizing Kenyans inthe development process of the country. The Ministry of Social Services defines a women’sgroup as a voluntary self-help group of more than fifteen members made up exclusively ofwomen or whose membership consists of an overwhelming majority ofwomen. The Ministryadds that in those self-help groups that have men as members, it is the women who have toexercise decision making powers (Republic of Kenya: Women’s Bureau, 1992). Theunderlying reason for women’s groups’ formation and existence is the increasingburden assumed by women in the changing social division of labour. Women’s self.helpgroups have risen as an instrument through which the individual member can strengthen hercapabilities in meeting the challenges ofbeing the chiefprovider for her family’s welfare.Women’s selfhe1p groups have emerged throughout much of the rural areas as aresponse to economic, social, political and technological changes arising from the colonialexperience, participation in a cash economy, and from policies and politics of independentKenya (Thomas, 1985). Women’s self-help groups are involved in their own income generatingactivities, such as producing handicrafts for sale, or assisting in building community facilities.Typical activities of women’s self help groups include farming, milling maize, keepinglivestock, making handicrafts and maintaining rental properties. They are also operatingrevolving loan schemes or credit. They extend credit to individual women who are associated33in women’s self-help groups and are pursuing small-scale enterprises (UNICEF/GOK 1992).They also provide loans to women for education and medical expenses.Women’s self-help groups are required to register with the Women’s Bureau, Ministryof Social Services which was set up in 1975, the International Women’s Year. This is apolitical move to control opposition to the government, thus limiting women’s social andpolitical power. The Women’s Bureau has become both the effective focus for policiestowards women and a major means of acquiring international funds for aid specifically directedat women (Feldman, 1983).In her study that focused on women’s self-help groups in Murang’a, Kenya,Ahlberg-Maina (1991) argues that dominated women’s self-help groups in rural Kenya arestill an important resource for change. She posits that in the context of Kenyan history,women have continued to exploit the power of collective action to counteract negativeforces within the system even after colonial forces had disrupted their culture andcollective organization.Continued collective participation of women has not just offered a link betweenthe past and the present, it constitutes a process of consciously selecting positivecultural traits and adapting them to meet new challenges. It is perhaps onlythrough such dynamic participation that issues which evoke resistance can becomean integral part of the collective activity and social order. (Ahlberg-Maina, 1991,p. 187)Stamp (1986) argues that women’s self-help groups are not simply aboutcooperative development projects, or strategies for coping with change, rather, they arevital organizations for resistance to exploitation. She argues that by women channelingthe cash from crops into self-help organizations, they are preventing appropriation of theirproduct by their husbands. Their attempt to “accumulate capital is a means of protecting34and enhancing their fragile incomes and compensating for lost domestic production”(Stamp, 1986, 40). Consequently, women have become agents of resistance and change inthe maelstrom of contemporary Kenyan affairs. Their agency resides in their communalendeavours and is constantly reinvented in the context of political and social changes(Stamp 1995).ConclusionsThis examination of Kenyan women’s participation in education, economy, family andin the general society shows that women’s experiences are stmctured by gender and powerrelations that limit their access to equal opportunities. These gender and power relations inKenya are related to the historical, cultural, economic and political legacies of society.The colonial economy that was imposed on indigenous Kenyans dismantled cultural valuesand customs which supported African social systems. Colonial administrators, who wereinvariably men, brought their assumptions of male supremacy with them. They did notseek spokeswomen or head-women but spokesmen and headmen. When the need forsemi-skilled workers developed, young boys were sought for schooling. The politicalpower of women was not recognized by Westerners because it was always indirect, oftena thnction of their position as sisters or mothers. Under the increasingly stringent andcompetitive circumstances of posteolonial capitalism, patrilineages are becoming morepatriarchal, intensiling control over lineage wives and undermining the power and rightsto resources of lineage sisters (Stamp, 1991; Boserup, 1970). Precapitalist dominantgender relations have been manipulated to exploit and dominate women and deny themsocial, economic and political power in present day Kenya.35Present patterns of women’s participation in education and formal employmentshow that these institutions are still gender segregated. Parity in enrolments of girls andboys at the primary level are accompanied by high drop out rates of girls due topregnancy, child marriages and high fees charged as a result of the implementation of cost-sharing strategy. At the secondary level girls continue to attend schools of poor quality indisproportionately high numbers and have restricted access to a broad range of curricula,particularly in sciences. They are conditioned to biased learning materials and classroomdynamics.Women’s participation in employment has similar patterns. Women representabout 22% of the total formal wage employment. The demand for educational credentials,discrimination against women and maintenance of sharp division of labour in the familycontinue to keep women out of the those more generally lucrative careers and out of theformal employment sector. Women living in the rural areas have less employmentopportunities than their urban educated female counterparts.Rural women, who do not have educational credentials and resources such asaccess to land, are seriously disadvantaged. The rural-urban dichotomy severely limitstheir opportunities for employment. These women’s participation in income generatingopportunities is limited by the conglomerate of labour intensive non-waged activities thatthey engage in for their family’s survival.Women have become intervention agents and buffers for their families from theeffects of the social, economic and political crises that have befallen Africa with little or nosupport from their governments. The government of Kenya, for example, has continued to36deny reports that show that women are overtly discriminated against. It has consistentlymaintained the position that Kenya women are not discriminated against and therefore do notneed to struggle for rights for they are already enjoying them. Sweeping and vaguely wordedstatements of government commitment and intentions about women in development areexpressed in national development plans and party manifestos (Nzomo, 1989). As Staudt andGluckman (1989) observe, the Nairobi meeting to conclude “the United Nations Decade forWomen in 1985 Signalled no dramatic changes in African governments’ responsiveness towomen or in women’s voice in the political process” (p. 4). Women in Kenya continue to beencumbered by a plethora of gender barriers to educational, economic and politicalopportunities, making gender and power crucial categories of analysis in any attempt tounderstand and address gender inequities in Kenya.In the exploration of rural women’s educational experiences and their role asintervention agents for their children; there is no available literature to illustrate suchagency, particularly for daughters whose educational and economic opportunities aredenied them due to social, cultural, economic and political factors. Therefore, this studywhich explores rural women’s educational experiences and their role as interventionagents for their children from the women’s standpoints is crucial.37Chapter ThreeMethodologyThis chapter deals with the methodology of my study of women’s experiences ofeducational policies in the Kilome division of Kenya. Women’s voices and concerns havebeen excluded in the official discourse on education and development articulated in policydocuments. This exclusion has led to the formulation not only of gender biased policies butalso of seemingly gender neutral policies that have served to exacerbate gender inequalities inKenya. In this study, rural women were provided space to narrate their experiences ofeducation from their own standpoints. Women were encouraged to articulate their thoughts,fears and hopes on the subjects of education, paid and unpaid work, family and sexuality. Thewomen’s narratives were construed as private or female discourse on education. I laterjuxtaposed the private discourse alongside the public discourse on education highlighting thecontradictions and similarities between the different narrative standpoints..In this chapter, discussion on theory guiding how the research should proceed isfollowed by a description of the process and the research sites. Next, I discuss theparticipants, research topics and translation of the interviews followed by an examinationof issues around writing ethnography. Last, I reflect on doing research as both an insiderand outsider in Kilome division.38Theoretical FrameworkDistinctions between supposed public and private spheres of human existence havegenerated a lot of controversy. Jaggar (1983) points out that traditional political theoryhas always made a distinction between the public and the private spheres of humanexistence. She notes that political theorists, though unable to agree on where the linebetween public and private spheres should be drawn, have unanimously agreed that theareas of sexuality, childbearing and childrearing should be defined as the private spherebecause these activities have been conceived as natural or biologically determined. Jaggarconcludes that:When so much of the work in the ‘private’ realm is invariably done by women,moreover, it is not just irrational but sexist to assume that women are biologicallydetermined to continue performing this work. An adequate political theory mustevaluate traditional sexual, childbearing and childrearing practices and considermore liberatory alternatives. (pp. 112-113)Feminists critique the existing liberal political and economic theory that separatesthe public and private and that makes a distinction between the public “economic world ofthe market” and the private, “non-economic” sphere of the home. The distinction is valueladen and has been used to rationalize the exploitation of women (Jaggar, 1983).Women’s labour is crucial in enhancing social, economic and political development of any statein the public sphere.Critics question the universality of the public/private distinctions. Stamp (1989)argues that the assumed Western conceptualization of the public/private dichotomies of“human existence” is an inaccurate conceptualization of present and, even more so, pastAfrican life. She points out that Western notions of public and private distinctions cannot be39used to understand African communities. Stamp argues that the community of most Africanwomen is as full a participant in the decision-making structure of village life as is thecommunity of men. She argues that women’s voices are silent not because womenparticipate only in the private sphere but due to the privileged status of the community ofmen gained through contemporary socioeconomic processes. Stamp posits that, althoughwomen are largely absent from contemporary national and “formal” political institutions,their political efficacy continues to be manifested at the community level.In this study, the public and private distinctions are useful in understanding anddifferentiating the nature of the public or formal sphere where policies are formulated andthe private sphere where rural women’s agency is confined. Women are largely absent atthe contemporary national level where policies are formulated. The women’s discoursesat the local level, though public at the community level as exemplified by their activities asindividuals and as collectives, do not inform the larger “authentic” or legitimateddiscourses that are articulated in policy documents. Van Allen (1976) argues for anotion ofpublic which relates to the collectivity of decision making where a fewindividuals may possess the knowledge required to make decisions at the public level. Henotes that,The settling of questions that concern the welfare of the community in a “public”way necessitates the sharing of ‘political knowledge’--the knowledge needed forparticipation in political discussion and decision. A system in which public policyis made publicly and the relevant knowledge is shared widely contrasts sharplywith those systems in which a privileged few possess the relevant knowledge-whether priestly mysteries or bureaucratic expertise--and therefore control policydecisions. (quoted in Stamp, 1989, p. 115)40The nature of collectivity and the space or style in which that collectivity operates, areimportant distinctions of public and private spheres. In Kenya women operate in thespheres that have been rendered less visible by contemporary male-dominated structuresand discourses. Inevitably, the community of men has been favoured over the communityof women. Men have had the privilege to make decisions at the public level that affect allpeople. In the African context, these public/private distinctions have taken root becauseOutsiders, from missionaries to colonial officials to contemporary governmentalelites, have recognized men’s networks as the sole, legitimate ‘public’ with whichthey should deal--the uniform, undifferentiated ‘public’ that embodies ‘publicinterest. (Stamp, 1989, p. 116)Public discourse articulated in policy documents is produced and disseminated bymainly the community of men in the contemporary state through state sponsoredstrategies. It is the legitimate and dominant discourse on education. The privatediscourses on education produced by women are produced mostly at the individual leveland to a lesser extent at the group level. The women’s discourses are primarily thewomen’s lived experiences existing at “private/informal” world of “women’s affairs.”However, discourse is not neutral. As Apple points out, “all our discourses are politicallyuninnocent and occur within shifting and dynamic social context in which the existence ofmultiple sets of power [and gender relations] are inevitable” (Apple, Introduction to Lather1991, p.vii). Power, Focault argues, is not a property but a strategy which is constantly intension and in activity. Consequently public discourses and private discourses on educationinteract in complex ways as exemplified in the Kilome women’s actions in shaping andtransforming their children’s and particularly, daughters’ experiences of educational anddevelopment policies produced at the national level. The women are not mere victims of41public policy discourses but they act upon these policies as individuals and as collectives.They interact within the constraints and opportunities of existing structures at the sametime as they act upon and restructure the social system.This study involves women at the grassroots level. Stamp (1986) describes thesewomen as the backbone of the Kenyan peasantry who are doubly dominated as peasantswithin underdeveloped capitalism and as a dominated category within the peasantry.Despite the crucial role that these women play in the society, their realities have continuedto be invisible in public discourses covering all aspects of the society and specifically, inthe education discourse in Kenya. Paulo Freire (1990) argues that “reality” is never simplyobjective datum, or concrete fact, but is also people’s and certain people’s perception of itbecause of the indispensable unity between subjectivity and objectivity in the act ofknowing. Reality is not independent of our experiences and thus social, economic,cultural and political factors play a big role in shaping people’s reality. The reality ofwomen’s and men’s lives is shaped by the complex interactions of the social, political,economic, cultural and historical contexts of the particular society.Feminists have shown that women’s experiences have either been ignored ordistorted (Eichler, 1983, Harding, 1986). More importantly, eurocentricity and the desireto use western values as yardsticks have produced the “third world woman” as a singularmonolithic subject--a stereotype that has worked to her detriment (Mohanty, 1991).Kenyan women’s delineation of their reality from their standpoints is important incountering the hegemonic perceptions of women that have portrayed them asstereotypical pawns of men.42Stamp (1995) argues that a text on African women’s agency must ask newquestions, ones that aim to elicit what women are doing as active agents of resistance andchange in the maelstrom of contemporary African affairs. Potash (1989), writing aboutgender relations in African societies, argues that it is crucial that we begin to ask questionsthat make visible the complexities of women’s and men’s relationships. We must askquestions that portray the “reality” of women’s lives as social actors who use systems toachieve their ends. Potash concludes that “such praxis approaches emphasize humanresourcefulness while recognizing systemic limitations” (p. 191).Ahlberg-Maina (1991) concurs with Stamp and Potash about the importance oftaking African women as actors contrary to the passive image of African women portrayedin most contemporary literature. In her study of the response of women’s groups tofamily planning programmes in Kenya, Ahlberg-Maina used the actor-systems-dynamicsanalytical framework to understand women’s experiences. “The actor-systems-dynamicsapproach recognizes the dynamics of social actors whether individuals or collectives insocial structuration and transformation” (Ahlberg-Maina, 1991, p. 32). Ahlberg-Mainaargues that this approach makes visible women’s actions in the formulation of strategiesaimed at influencing and/or shaping the system in which they are a part. She notes that, associal actors, women are engaged in the making of their own history, a process which isnot only continuous, but one where past experiences, knowledge and cultural traits arecarried along. Ahlberg-Maina concludes that, even as a dominated group, women are adynamic force in the shaping of the social system and its change. This strategy makesvisible the different forms of struggle and resistance that women engage in their daily lives.43The women in this study are social actors, who formulate strategies aimed atinfluencing or shaping the social system in which they are a part (Ahlberg-Maina, 1991).They interact within the constraints and opportunities of existing structures at the sametime as they act upon and restructure the social system. These women’s agency resides intheir individual and communal endeavours and is constantly reinvented in the context ofpolitical and social change (Stamp, 1995).For the women’s agency to become visible they must participate in the study aswho they really are--subjects and knowers. Harding (1986) emphasizes the importance oftaking women as subjects and knowers rather than as the objects of study as has been thepattern in many conventional research methodologies. As knowers the women participatein knowledge production through participation, dialogue and analyses ofdiscourses/discussions (Fals-Borda & Rahman, 1991). The women in this study not onlyparticipated as knowers and subjects but also their voices as subjects of inquiry, and thevoice of the inquirer are culturally identifiable. This created the possibility ofunderstanding the women’s condition as well as my own from the standpoint ofhistorically and culturally locatable experiences (Smith, 1987).Many research methodologists, particularly postpositivists, advocate reciprocity ofresearch. Patti Lather (1986) argues that participants should gain self-understanding and,ideally, self-determination through the research. The methodology of this study madereciprocity a viable objective. The women’s understanding of the dynamics of genderinequities in accessing educational opportunities and self-determination is evident in thegoals of the women’s self-help groups, both old and newly formed groups since my44research, and in the systematic progress that the women have made in achieving thesegoals. The women have kept me informed of their activities by writing to me on amonthly basis. The women’s actions as a group and as individuals have created thepossibility for transformation of their own and their children’s world or “reality.” Theresearch process has contributed to the re/orientation, focus and energization ofparticipants in what Freire (1973) termed “conscientization,” knowing reality in order tobetter transform it. MIes (1983) argues that active collective consciousness becomespossible only when women can use their own documented (spoken), understood andanalyzed history as a “weapon” in the struggle for themselves.Mies (1983) also notes the importance of creating a wider network ofcommunication for women from different villages/locations or cities. She argues that aresearch project should be linked to an ongoing movement. Mies argues that “a researchproject that does not link up with some local group which can become a permanent basefor conscientization, mobilization and action will remain at best a pleasant episode in thelives of the women” (p. 137).Smith (1987) observes that researchfor women must begin from the standpointsof women. Such an inquiry regards women’s experience as starting and ending points forinquiry. Alcoff(1991) states that anyone who speaks for others should only do so out of aconcrete analysis of the particular power relations and discursive effects involved. LeslieRoman (1993) argues that “the concept of speaking with conveys the possibility oftendential and shifting alliances between speakers from different unequally located groups”45(p. 184). In the study I struggle to speak with the women while being conscious ofAlcoff’ s cautions on the problematic of speaking for and about others.A study encompassing the above dimensions can only become possible withinmethodological paradigms that are political and, as Patti Lather (1986) argues, ones thatare openly ideological. My research methodology is infonned by feminist researchmethodology paradigms, particularly by standpoint feminists (Smith, Harding, Jaggar,Roman), postmodern feminists’ epistemologies (Lather), third world feminist perspectives(Ahlberg-Maina and Mohanty), critical theoristlemancipatory discourses (Freire, Apple)and postcolonial and Africanist discourses (Potash, Stamp and Mies). This studycombines these methodological perspectives in order to explore women’s agency and thesystenñc limitations women encounter in their attempt to achieve educational andeconomic opportunities in Kenya.Feminism as a political movement struggles for methodologies that can bringwomen’s experiences to light and put such experiences on the political agenda (Mies,1983). What I have striven for are methodologies that are informed by epistemologiesthat consider women as knowers and active agents of social change, not mere victims.These methodologies must also consider gender, race, class, and ethnicity as vitalcategories of analysis in understanding women’s material standpoints.The complexities of feminism as a political movement aimed at addressingwomen’s issues are intensified by the fact that the female subject is herself a site ofdifferences. Mohanty (1991) takes Western feminists to task for having asked the wrong46questions and thereby producing “the third world woman” as a singular monolithicsubject.Mohanty (1991) posits that:Assumptions ofprivilege and ethnocentric universality, on the one hand,and inadequate self-consciousness about the effect of Western scholarshipon ‘third world’ in the context of a world system dominated by the West, onthe other, characterize a sizable extent of Western feminist work on womenin the third world. . . . Marginal or not, this writing has political effects andimplications beyond the immediate feminist or disciplinary audience. (p. 53)The consequences of distortion of women’s lives have been reflected in the developmententerprise discourse and policies on third world women. Discourses ranging fromacademic writing to the design, implementation and monitoring of aid projects by publicand private agencies reaffirm a view of African women as passive, problematic targets ofbenevolent intervention (Stamp, 1995). Davies and Graves (1986) argue that theportrayal of the African woman as a supermother, a symbol of Africa, or as the one with agolden heart does not necessary counter the facile image of African women. The twoauthors argue “for a truthful assessment of women’s lives, the negative and the positiveand a demonstration of the specific choices that women must often make” (p. 15). Acounter discourse involves making visible women’s resistance as well as their compliancewith the patriarchal structures that perpetuate their subordination. As Van Maanen(1988) argues, ethnographies are politically mediated, since the power of one group orresearcher to represent another is always involved. Most crucially, ethnographyirrevocably influences the interests and lives of the people represented in them bothindividually and collectively, for better or for worse.47Guided by the above framework, aware of my own privileges of educational andsocio-economic status, I entered the lives of the women of Kilome division to talk withthem about their experiences of education. I worked with the women in their capacities asdaughters, sisters, mothers and/or wives. I used gender as a category ofanalysis becauseInsofar as women and men have been shown to participate differently in theeconomic, social, political, [education] and religious life of their societies, wecannot continue to describe institutions as if they are gender neutral when they arenot. Rather, an understanding of social organization and social process requiresnew conceptualizations that use gender as an integral theme of analysis, not as amarginal category. By focusing on participatory patterns and the diverse interestsand strategies of women and men we obtain a more realistic picture. Furthermore,since the allocation of rights and responsibilities among men and women haveimplications for their relationship to one another and to their society, such analyseshold promise for improving our understanding of gender systems. (Potash, 1989,p. 189)Research DesignHarding (1986) points out that “method” deals with “techniques for gatheringevidence” while “methodology” is a “theory and analysis of how research does or shouldproceed” (pp. 2-3). In order to make visible the gender and power issues that limitwomen’s participation in education, economy and the wider Kenya society, it becameimportant to involve the women, particularly those living in the rural areas. Thesewomen’s struggles to participate in Kenyan society are exacerbated by the limitededucational opportunities made available to them and the rural-urban dichotomy in thedevelopment of the formal employment sector. I chose to interview women who wereborn, raised, and who received part of their formal education in Kilome division, Makuenidistrict, Kenya. I interviewed women about their experiences of formal education,highlighting the barriers that they faced in accessing educational opportunities as well as48their daughters’ limitations to educational and economic opportunities. I used audio-taping, field notes and twice I video-taped the women as they engaged in their group activitiesin the women’s group. The women’s narratives represent their private discourse oneducation which I use to discuss the public discourse on the role of education indevelopment articulated in policy documents.I also examined the policy documents produced over the last 30 year period inlight of the political, social and economic rhetoric of the time. All the policy documentsrepresent the government’s position on the role of education in development. I examinedthe public discourse on education for the rationale for providing educational opportunities.I was interested in whether there is a commitment to provide women with educationalopportunities equal to those of their male counterparts or whether women are onlyprovided educational opportunities sufficient for improving delivery of services as mothersand/or wives in the private sphere. This analysis reveals the gendered and culturalassumptions of femininity and masculinity legitimated at the public national level. Inaddition, analyzing policy documents contextualizes the women’s interviews and providesa better understanding of their subjectivities and subordination. It also makes visible howpolicies have limited and continue to limit women’s agency in the public sphere.I also looked for the similarities and differences in the policy documents’ approachto addressing gender and power issues in relation to women’s actual access to educationaland employment opportunities. Gender representation in the commissions and workparties and the roles held by men and women (chairperson versus copy-typist scenario)were of importance to this study.49ReflexivityHammersley & Atkinson (1983) point out that it is important to recognize thereflexive nature of social research--that we are part of the social world we study. Inaddition, as researchers, we hold an explicitly political vision of the structural conditionsthat lead to particular social behaviours, a vision that our collaborators may not hold(Gluck & Patai, 1991). Bell (1993) notes that ethnographers must first know themselves.In addition, Lather (1991) argues that in studies that are openly ideological selfreflexivityis essential.I entered Kilome division, the site of my research, partly as an insider and outsider.I am a Mkamba, born in Uvuuni, a village in Kilome division, the child of Jonah Kiluva andHannah Ndoti. I attended a local primaxy school and left the village school in 1973 toundertake my secondaiy level education in a city secondary school. I sat for the KenyaPrimary Certificate of Education examinations in 1972, and was admitted to an harambee dayschool about 10 kilometres from my home and lived with relatives whose rural home wasnearer to the school. My educational prospects would have been better if I had been called tojoin one of the government secondary schools in the country or attended Precious Blood, theonly government girls’ only school in Kilome division. Precious Blood girls secondary schooltakes only 6 girls from the three divisions of Makueni District, making the school verycompetitive.The harambee school I joined, like most harambee schools, was very poor. There wereno trained teachers, no facilities or equipment required to teach science and the vocationalsubjects that had been made compulsory. I stayed in this school for two months. Had it not50been for my brother’s intervention (who had graduated from high school and was working as atrainee accountant), I would certainly have failed my university entry examination if I had notdropped out of school before sitting for this examination. My brother found a space for me inKenya High School, a former European girls’ high school which charged higher fees. Mybrother paid my school fees for the six years I was a student in the school. School fees were abarrier to many girls, particularly, rural girls.My experiences of education in the village primaiy school and in the high-cost highschool were extremely different. In my piimaiy school, which was coeducational, theteachers, mostly male in the upper primary level treated girls and boys differently. Theyintimidated, harassed and embarrassed girls, particularly those who were mature. Teacherspicked on girls who did not raise their hands to answer questions and they showed a lot ofdisgust and impatience towards academically weak students, particularly those girls who hadreached puberty. The classroom environment was always very tense and hostile. There was atendency to portray girls as dumb. The treatment most girls received eroded their self-confidence and self-esteem. The teaching methods were very traditional and teachers wereautocratic and authoritarian. I do not remember any girl asking a question in the class If youdidn’t understand when the teacher was teaching, you were doomed unless you had oldersiblings or relatives whom you could consuk after school. Most of the girls in my class werethe only ones in the school who had gone that far with formal education in their families. It isnot surprising that most ofthese girls left school at the primary level and got married.The shift from the rural life to an urban elite school, Kenya High School, was a bigchallenge for me. The world represented in the Kenya High was totally different from that I51had known. I had grown up in the rural areas and most ofthe children in this urban school hadgrown up in the city. Our backgrounds were totally different. Most of the students who wentto Kenya High came from elite homes with very different socioeconomic status from mine.Their background was reflected in their dress, language, attitudes and experiences thattransversed nations. I was a village girl who had grown up in a polygamous home collectingfirewood and water, digging planting and harvesting. My peers/classmates had middle-classmothers as their role models, whereas my role models were completely different. It was astruggle to fit in this school. Nevertheless, once I reconciled the two “worlds,” I began to tapthe benefits of this environment. The teachers had high expectations of the students and girlsaspired for higher education and challenging careers in science, science-related fields and inarts.I wanted to become a medical doctor, therefore, I chose science and mathematicssubjects for my advanced level education (grade 12 and 13 equivalent). After completing thislevel ofeducation I was called to the university to undertake a B.Ed (science) degree.I went to Kilome division, taking with me my two children aged eight and nine, to talkto some ofthe women about their experiences ofeducation. I wanted the women to share withme their stories of formal education, highlighting the barriers that they faced and those thattheir children and in particular female children face. I wanted them to share how they wereconstructing educational possibilities for their children and girls in particular. This is why Imade my journey to Kithumba and Kyandue villages and to Salama town in Kilome Division totalk to women who had not been as “fortunate” as I had been. My journey from Kilome to52Kenya High School to Canada and back to Kilome would not have been possible without mybrother’s intervention.My participation in the study and my “double identity” as a native of Kilome and awoman scholar committed to women’s liberation and justice influenced the women’sconceptualization of their subordination and agency. The discussions that I held with thewomen as individuals and as a group provided the space for the women to examine theircompliance and to image out ways to challenge patriarchy. I found myself asking the womento move beyond “sacrificing” themselves to create solutions, but to also to begin to questionand challenge the structures that perpetuate women’s exploitation and subordination. I usedmy “double consciousness” of privilege and subordination, as an educated woman and as aKenyan woman, as a methodological and political opportunity to challenge the women toquestion the structures that maintain their subordination (MIes, 1983).This background shaped my choice of site and indeed influenced my discussions withthe women ofKilome division. The discussions highlighted the women’s experiences makingvisible the constraints that they face and their active participation in shaping their socialconditions and those oftheir children.The Research SitesThe research is set in Kilome division because of my own interests and relationship tothe area and also because this region is a part of rural Kenya which illustrates the difficultiesthat rural women face in their attempt to participate in the educational, economic, social andpolitical spheres of the society. The women’s experiences here are issues that are of interest to53me not only as an educator but also as a woman who was born and schooled in Kilomedivision.My fieldwork took place in the Kithumba and Kyandue villages and in Salama, a smalltown along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway in Kilome Division, Makueni District. MakueniDistrict is in the Eastern Province ofthe Republic ofKenya and is one of the six districts of thisProvince. Makueni District is divided into three divisions, namely, Kilome, Kibwezi andMakueni. Women in Kilome division belong to the Akamba ethnic group. A member of theAkamba ethnic group is called a Mukamba, many are Akamba or Kamba, the language isKikamba and the region is Ukamba (Muthiani, 1973).Kilome division lies about 130 kilometres south of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya In1990 Kilome division had a population density of 275 persons/lcm2or a total of approximately241,900 people (Odiege, 1992). It borders Kajiando division to the west, Makueni to the east,Kibwezi to the south and Mbooni to the north. Kilome town is the divisional headquarterswith a population of about 15001 at present. The headquarters is a subsidiary of the office ofthe president and it houses the offices of the district officer, divisional social developmentassistant and a police station. The district officer is a presidential appointee. Kilome division isdivided into locations and sub-locations which consist of several villages headed by a chief andassistant chiefs respectively. These positions have been held by men since their creation duringthe colonial era who are appointed by the Public Service Commission—the body in charge ofhiring civil servants.‘This an estimate of the population of Kilome town since there are no official statistics.54VJthumba villageKithumba village is in Kilome Division of Makueni District. Kithumba village coversan area of about 12 square kilometres and has a population of about 4200 people. It is on theKilome-Salama road, up the hills about 2.5 kilometres from Kilome Divisional headquarterswhere the district officer’s (D.O) and other administrative offices are located. The KilomeSalama road, which passes through Kithumba is tarmacked. There is also a power-line whichruns from Salama through Kithumba to Precious Blood Girls’ School, the only governmentmaintained girls’ only secondaiy school in this division. This power-line was constructed afterthe president of Kenya visited the school and was impressed by the school’s academicexcellence. In the prevailing political climate in Kenya, the president’s act was construed as afavour to his political stalwart, a senior civil servant whose home is a few kilometers to thesouth of Precious Blood Girls’ School, located about 12 kilometres north-west of Kithumbavillage. An additional favour to tarmac the road from Nunguni to Precious Blood Girls Schoolstalled and was eventually abandoned when this civil servant retired.Life in Kithumba VillageEach family in Kithumba village owns a small plot ranging in size between 1-4 acres.Each family plants maize and beans during the rainy seasons. Rainfall in the area is inadequateand unpredictable, a factor, which when combined with shallow soils, steep slopes and unstablesurface soil structures, makes water and soil conservation a delicate issue. Consequently,harvests are poor and most families buy food (mainly maize and beans (isyo)--staple Akambadiet throughout the year.55Women from Kithumba earn their income from small-scale agriculture, petty trading,casual work and participation in women’s self-help groups. There are no big farms orplantations where women may find paid employment. Women utilize their plots efficiently andin most cases overuse their plots in their attempt to increase productivity. In a family’s plotone can find (a) a section for subsistence crops, (b) vegetables, (c) poultry and (d) livestock,usually one cow and two goats. A few families have planted coffee,2 the only cash cropplanted in this area. Some women in Kithumba village are petty traders. They sell excess farniproduce, vegetables, chicken and eggs, and those who have cows sell milk to neighbours.Some take their commodities to the local markets which assemble on a weekly basis. Otherstake their commodities to several other markets within the division. Women’s mobilitydepends on the age of their children, availability of help when she is away and, moreimportantly, permission from her husband.Houses in the villages in Kilome division are similar. They are either made of mud withthatched roofs, mud with corrugated iron-sheets or bricks with corrugated iron-sheets. Thequality of houses in Kithumba village is relatively high. Most of the houses have corrugatediron roofs. Few houses have thatched roofs, and I noticed a tile roofed house in this village.The nature of the house reflects the income bracket of the head of the household. Buildingtimber is readily available. The Ministry of Environment’s forest station is located a few2The labour demands of this crop are high and women are responsible for it. Nevertheless, the coffee isregistered in the name of the husband as the owner of the plot Often women are not signatories to theaccount held at the cooperative. The few women who mentioned having had coffee pointed out that theywere no longer willing to labour for nothing because they never saw the fruits of their labour. I met onewoman in Kithumba who neglected her husband’s coffee (as she called it) and concentrated on subsistencecrops. She did this because her husband always collected the money from the cooperative to spend it withhis other wife. She noted that she could not uproot it because it was not only against the law but shewould also be killed by her husband. Stamp (1986) found similar resistance strategies employed byKikuyu women.56kilometres from this village. Here villagers can buy timber at bargain prices. However, it isillegal to cut trees for firewood from the government forest. Some villagers have plantedtimber trees in their plots.Up until 1974, transportation between Kithumba village and other centres wasimpossible particularly in the rain season when the roads and bridges would be washed away.Transportation between the village and other major centres and services like schools andhospitals or with the capital of Nairobi is now good because the road from Kithumba toNairobi is tarmacked. It was constructed between 1971-74, a product of a political“armtwisting” of the government by the then local member of parliament. The construction ofthis road opened up this area to the world beyond the village. The road now has regular publicservice vehicles, some ofwhich belong to the government.There is one hospital and two health centres accessible to the people of Kithumbavillage. Although these centres are not within walking distances from Kithumba, there isadequate means of transport to and from these centres. The hospital, which has a visitingqualified doctor, is run by the Precious Blood Catholic sisters. One health centre is run by alocal church and the other by the government. The government run health centre is supposedto offer free medical services to the local people. With the current government cuts onspending on health and social services, this centre is understaffed and lacks basic drugs.Schooling in KithumbaThere is no school inside the village but Kilome nursery, primary and harambeesecondary schools lie just outside the village. The children of this village go to these variousschools located between three and six lcilometres from the village. Some children have to walk57long distances to their schools particularly those in secondary level. None ofthe girls from thisvillage were attending Precious Blood Girls school at the time ofmy study.Kilome secondaiy school was built by the community in 1979. As an harambee school,it receives minimum assistance from the government. The govermnent posts and pays a fewgraduate teachers to teach in Kilome harambee secondary school. The school is not wellequipped and has not established itself as a reputable school. Accommodation for teachers is abig problem because the school has no teachers’ houses in the school compound, as ingovernment-maintained schools. Kilome town itself has very few substandard houses thatteachers can let. Most teachers who are posted from the universities to teach at Kilomesecondary school never report. They always try to be re-posted to other areas. Othersecondary school children from this area who are not admitted to boarding government schoolsgo to other relatively older harambee schools in other divisions. These include Kilungu day(has no boarding facilities) and Mukaa secondary school which has boarding facilities.Kithumba Women’s Self-Help GroupI went to Kithumba village because when I was growing up in Uvuuni village aboutfive kilometres away, I got to know an elderly well respected woman in this village. I went tothe village and informed her of what I was doing and requested her support in gatheringwomen from her community for me. I knew that women from different villages irrespective oftheir age, social class, clan or church afliliation would respond to her call because of her ageand reputation in the community. My first meeting was attended by about 50 women. Themeeting lasted for about two and a half hours. As we began to talk about ourselves, I learntthat some of the women had walked long distances to attend this meeting. Some came from58Kyandue village about eight kilometres away. The discussions that I had with the women inthe first meeting particularly those from Kyandue village, encouraged Kithumba women toform a women’s group in their village since no women’s self-help group existed in Kithumbavillage prior to our first meeting.A few women from Kithumba were members of other women’s self-help groups inneighbouring villages. These included Uvuuni Welfare Organization, which has malemembership, and Kwa Muulu, which is associated with the GreenBelt movement. TheGreenBelt movement encourages environmental awareness and makes tree-planting anincome-generating activity for women. Female members of Uvuuni Welfare Organizationexpressed dissatisfaction with the organization because some members live in Nairobi and havepersonal projects which took precedence over the organization’s ones. The women wanted tohave more control over their activities and goals. They noted that every home has a baby girland it was extremely important to make sure that these girls did not leave school prematurelyas their mothers did. The women noted that education provided a sure escape from poverty.They decided to form a new women’s self-help group in which they would include educationofgirls as a major goal.I spent about two and half months in and out of Kithumba village. During this time,the women formed the Kithumba Women’s Group, laid down rules to govern their group andcompleted several sets of handicrafts. The women agreed that each member should pay Ksh100(4 CAD) to become a fill member. This money was to be paid over a period of not morethan 10 months. In addition to the membership fee, each member had to pay a Ksh 10registration fee. The women agreed that they would be meeting fortnightly. I became a59member ofthis group, attended six meetings and recorded four ofthem. I also videotaped partof these meetings. In addition, 10 women from this group agreed to talk with me individually.The interview periods ranged from 50 minutes to one and half hours. In two ofthe interviews,I had to take notes because the tape recorder failed to work. I also talked to four girls, one isin grade 8 and the other three are in the final year of their secondary level education. Thegirls’ mothers were among the 10 women I interviewed from Kithumba women’s group.Kyandue VillageKyandue village is also in Kilome Division ofMakueni District. It lies eight kilometreseast ofKithumba village and south ofthe divisional headquarters at Kilome. Kyandue village issurrounded by very high hills which isolate this village from other centres particularly in therain season. It occupies an area of about 15 square kilometres and has a population of about6500 people. My first meeting with the women of Kilome at Kithumba village wasattended by women from Kyandue village. Among them were members of Kyanduewomen’s self-help group. Kyandue women present at the Kithumba meeting had felt thatthe issues we discussed at Kithumba were of importance to them and it would beimportant for me to go to their village to meet with more Kyandue women who wereunable to attend the first meeting at Kithumba. The women asked me to visit them intheir home village, talk with them and see what they do as individuals and as a collectiveto meet the needs of their children, both boys and girls, and to create educationalopportunities for them.60Life in Kyandue VillageEach family in Kyandue village has a piece of land where members grow subsistencecrops, mainly maize, beans and pigeon peas in the rainy season. Some of the plots yield highharvests, while others have poor harvests. Family plots range from 2.5 to 5 acres. Kyandue iswarmer than Kithumba and this accelerates the maturity/ripening of food crops and so, yieldsare much higher in Kyandue than in Kithumba village. Most of the families own somelivestock, the number depending on the size ofthe family’s plot. Those with bigger plots keepcows and goats, but those with smaller plots keep a few goats that are often tethered. A goodnumber of families practice zero grazing where the livestock are fed and given water in thebarn. The feed and water have to be fetched by women.Women in Kyandue village earn income from (a) selling vegetables, onions, bananas,milk and excess farm produce (maize and beans), (b) working as casual labourers, and (c)participating in women’s self help groups’ income-generating activities. A few women havecoffee in their plots. Coffee, the only cash crop planted in this area, belongs to the man as thehead of the household and women have no control over the income from it although they areresponsible for cultivation, picking, transporting and cleaning the berries at the coffee factory.Women from Kyandue village did not count on income from coffee sales.Kyandue village has no health centre. The nearest one is about 10 kilometres away andthere is no means of transport to this centre. In addition, the centre, like all other govermnenthealth centres, handles simple ailments but not serious cases. Serious cases are dealt with atKikoko hospital, 15 kilometres away, or at Machakos general hospital, 90 kilometres away.61Most people prefer to go to Kikoko hospital, which is run by the Precious Blood CatholicSisters. This is a private hospital, but charges are subsidized by the Catholic mission.The major difficulty that the people of Kyandue face is transportation. Kyanduevillage almost resembles a cone with hilly slopes. One major road runs on its circumference.On one arc the road is all weather and the other arc it is seasonal. There are no major roadsrunning within the village. During the rain seasons, the seasonal roads are so impassable thatfamily and relatives have had to carry their dead in a casket over a distance of three kilometresby hand down the slopes to the village for burial.Schooling in KyandueKyandue village has a few nursery and primaiy schools but no secondary school.There is a harambee secondary school in the neighbouring village about six kilometres away onthe hills. This school was opened about 10 years ago. It receives no support from thegovernment. Therefore all the teachers in this school are grade 12 graduates who holdadvanced level certificates. In some cases bachelor of arts graduates who fail to findemployment in the city offer their services in these schools. Most teachers are temporary andthat affects the students’ performance in the national examinations. Few students fromharambee schools here or elsewhere in the region go to university. Very few students fromKyandue village qualify to go to Precious Blood Girls Secondary School, which is about 15kilometres away.62Kyandue Women’s Self-Help GroupKyandue village has one major women’s group which is divided into sectionsA and B. The women noted that there are certain times when it is convenient and necessary tooperate as one group, particularly when doing community work such as building gabions3 forsoil conservation, and other times when they see it necessary to work as separate groups.Membership in one section of the group is limited to women married to men from theAmbua clan.4 This group formalizes marriages of women married to Ambua men by payingbridewealth. The Ambua women’s sub-group of the Kyandue women’s self-help group wasformed out of a crisis when a woman married to a Mumbua man died and a dispute aroseover whether the husband could claim her body and children since he had not paid thebridewealth Other women married in this clan, who traditionally are taken as co-wives, feltthat their counterpart was mistreated in death and vowed that they would not permit a repeatof that incident. The widower had to pay bridewealth to his deceased wife’s parents so that hecould bury her and keep the children they had had together.The Ambua women’s self-help group meets once every week. They bring firewood toone member each week and contribute 10 shillings (0.33 Canadian dollars). The money is keptby the treasurer and it is used to buy goats and other gifts which are presented to a bride’sparents as bridewealth before marriage. Similarly, the women present gifts to parents ofwomen whose marriages were not fonnalized. This is in line with Akamba traditions, however,there is no fixed amount that the women have to pay.3Gabions are large baskets made of wire mesh and filled with rocks and soil. They are used to help stopsoil erosion.4Ambua clan is one of the many clans that make up the Akamba ethnic group. An individual from theAnibua (rainmakers) clan is called a Mumbua.63The combined group, which has 40 members meets twice a month. The ages vaiybetween 20-60 years. They pay 10 shillings during each meeting. The women also plantbananas for their members. Each meeting is held at the plot of a member who must havepreviously prepared 80 holes to plant the bananas. The women use some of the money theycontribute to buy bar soap and kerosene. These items are kept at individual members’ homesaccessible to all members who are expected to buy their own commodities instead of going tothe shops. The profit goes to the women’s joint account. They also give loans to membersand non-members at differential interest rates.I spent about five weeks in Kyandue village. I did not become a member of this groupwhich was formed a year before I arrived. I attended three of their meetings and taperecorded two of them. Part of the interview with the group members was inaudible. I had tomake notes to fill the gaps. In addition, I interviewed 11 members of this group individuallyand tape recorded all the interviews. I also interviewed a daughter of one of the women whoattends an harambee secondaxy school. The length of the interviews ranged from 50 minutesto one and a halfhours.Salama TownSalama is a unique town in Kilome division. It is about 125 kilometres south ofNairobi and about 10 kilometres from Kithumba and Kyandue villages on the NairobiMombasa highway. The Nairobi-Mombasa highway is part of the Trans-African highway.Salama has a population ofabout 1,000 people. The people come from villages around Salamaand from other regions ofthe countiy.64In Salarna, I approached a middle-aged woman who was selling tomatoes, potatoesand onions outside a shop. I bought some tomatoes and sat next to her on the bench that shewassittingonandlcontinuedtallcingwithher. Iaskedheraboutherselfwhereshewasbornand where she was married, if she was, in an attempt to find out if she knew somebody that Iknew when I lived in this region. She told me that she was a niece to one woman who was anundersecretary in the government, and who contested the local parliamentary seat in the late1970s. Although I was young in the 1970s, I had heard about this woman who was wellknown in this area. This woman was known for her career achievements and courage to entermale-dominated mainstream politics. Her career and political aspirations caine to an end whenshe lost her battle to breast cancer.Through this “legendary” woman, I found that I knew my new friend’s/contact’scousin. I also learnt that my contact’s daughter who left school in Form 2 because of schoolfees, worked as a house girl for this cousin. Once we realized that I knew a couple ofwomen whom she knew and respected, we became quite comfortable with each other, and Iwas able to talk to her about what I was doing. I asked her whether any of the other womenin Salama town would be interested in talking with me about issues related to the education ofwomen. She agreed to contact other Salama women for me. A week later, I went to see herand she told me that some women were willing to come and meet with me, and she gave methe possible days and times that these women would be available.I spent about two months working with Salarna women. We discussed the educationof women in genera], their own and that of their children, and in particular the education oftheir daughters. We talked about (a) their education and the barriers that they faced, those65that their daughters face and their roles in creating educational possibilities for their childrenand siblings, (b) ways to enhance women’s earning opportunities, c) the role and activities of awomen’s self-help group and the formation of Salama Women Development Group.Life in SalamaSalama is a town that attracts girls from the villages who use Salama as a gateway tothe city and larger towns. Business in Salama is geared towards providing service to thetruckers and also to the local community. The truckers ply between Rwanda, Uganda, Sudanand the port ofMombasa. A good number of the girls work as barmaids in the beer halls andothers work in the hotels. The middle aged women, some of whom were once barmaids, runsome of the hotel and bar businesses and others are petty traders who sell vegetables,potatoes, tomatoes and onions and others sell miraa--a leaI’ anti-sleeping stems that arechewed by truck drivers and Somali men. A few ofthe women are seamstresses.Salama does not have a good image because of the truckers. The Nairobi-Mombasahighway is considered to be part of the AIDS corridor of Africa. Salama town is associatedwith “immorality,” and women who live and work there are assumed to be promiscuous.Women compose a good proportion of Salama’s population and therefore I went to Salamabecause I wanted these women to share with me their experiences of education and of their lifein Salama.Most ofthe buildings at Salama are made ofcement blocks and roofed with corrugatediron sheets. The front section of the building has a huge room that can be used as a shop,butchery, hotel or a bar. The back of a building are two rows of single rooms facing eachother. These rooms are rented out to truck drivers and to the men and women who work in66Salama. In general, the rooms are too small for a family. The rooms measure about 5 ft by 7ft. People who live in Salama have no plots to plant food crops.There is no hospital in Salama. There is, however, a private clinic which providesemergency services. The nearest health centre is about 20 kilometres away and major hospitalscan be found in Nairobi and in Machakos. The roads linking Salama to major centres in thecountry are tarmacked. However, roads linking Salama to the interior have no regular publicservice vehicles.Schooling in SalamaThe only school in Salama town is a Madrassa, an Islamic religious school at themosque. The nearest nursery and primary schools are about 1.5 kilometres from Salama alongthe highway. There is an harambee secondary school about 5 kilometres away. This schoolwas built by the local community on an harambee basis 12 years ago. None of the girls inSalama go to Precious Blood Girls School.Salama Women’s Self-Help GroupUp till the time I went to Salama there was no women’s group. People living inSalama did not seem to have a strong sense of community as in the villages. However, thewomen who participated in this study expressed the need to form a women’s group so thatthey could continue meeting when the study was over. I became a full paid-up member ofSalama women’s group. The women agreed to welcome three men into their group.All the meetings were held under a tree in a space allocated to Salama Jua Kali5 artisans. Peter,5Jua Kali means hot sun. These are open air industries and garages.67who is the coordinator of the artisans in Kilome division, permitted us the use of this space.Peter, who later became a member of this group, had also worked as a coordinator of severalwomen’s self-help groups in Machakos town. He claimed an awareness of gender issues andportrayed an understanding of the privilege men have enjoyed in the society. Two of the othermen were introduced to the group by their spouses, but their membership had to be negotiatedwith all the members of the group. The Women’s Bureau in the Mlnistiy of Social Servicesallows a few men to join women’s groups on condition that they don’t take leadership roles.However, male patronage in women’s self-help groups has became an issue of concern.Udvardy (1988) points out that the patron-client relationship found between women’s self-helpgroups and certain males affects the independence and success of women’s self-help groups’projects. She argues that male patrons have access to resources that women cannot easilyobtain by virtue of their structurally superior status of men and also through the formal localadministrative offices they might hold.The first meeting was attended by seven women and one man. Each member wasasked to pay a membership fee ofKsh 140 ($5) within a week. The membership fee was usedto build a shelter and to buy eggs and soft drinks for resale. The progress the group wasmaking attracted more women than the group could admit. The women limited membership inthe women’s group to 18. The women agreed that there was a need to come together andbegin to address issues that affect them as individuals and as a group. The women identifiedpoverty as a major impediment to their education and that oftheir children. The group aims atsaving money to purchase a maize mill, which would increase their income and enable them toafford to give their children meaningful educational opportunities.68During my work with the women’s group in Salama, it became evident thatwomen living in the town had differences among themselves that limited their interactions.These included (a) type of business and employment, (b) marital status, and (c) age.Women who ran their own or family businesses and were married were more comfortablewith each other. Single older businesswomen, most of them who had previously workedas barmaids, also tended to relate together more favourably and younger women, whowere currently working as barmaids, felt more comfortable other girls who worked asbarmaids. These kinds of groupings seem to have some relation to images that the womenof Salama want to portray. It seemed to me that those married business women want toshow the world that their business is “clean.” This could be a struggle to shape a differentimage for Salama, which is perceived by people, particularly those living in the villages inthe interior, as an immoral town.The major difference between life in the villages and that in Salama, a transruraltown, is the “atomistic” lifestyle that people in Salama seem to lead. One participantpointed out rather regretfiully that “people in Salama live as entities and no one cares aboutwhat the other does. Each one here does whatever he or she desires. You concentrateon your business, if that is what you do. If it succeeds, it does, if it doesn’t, that’s it foryou. If you need help, maybe your friends will give some help. Otherwise we do not livethe way people live in the villages” (Interview, July, 1994).ParticipantsWhile in Kilome division, I held several meetings in the villages and in Salama town.These meetings were attended by a total of about 120 women. Dining the initial meetings, I69introduced myself and requested the women to participate in the study. As summarized inTable # 1 on participants, thirty women from the villages and transrural town of Salamavolunteered to talk with me individually about their experiences of education, that of theirchildren and about their day to day experiences. In addition, three professional women, bornand partly schooled in Kilome division but now living in Nairobi, and five high school girls inKithumba and Kyandue villages agreed to participate in this study. The high school girls’mothers were among the women in the villages who participated in the study. I found outabout these girls during the interviews with their mothers and requested that their mothers askthem ifthey would be willing to talk with me. The girls were all students in senior piimary andsecondary schools in the Kilome division. All the participants are identified by pseudonyms.The ages of the rural women and those living in Salama who volunteered to participatein this study ranged from 19 to 75 years. Initially, I had planned to interview women whoseages ranged from 20 to 45 years. However; I interviewed/talked with three women whoseages were over that bracket (aged 50, 70 and 75 years old respectively) because they weremembers of the women’s self-help groups I was working with and it would have been impoliteto turn them away and fail to listen to their experiences, which were set within a different timespace ofKenyan society. These women, too, were respected in the community and because oftheir age and wisdom, held positions of responsibility in the women’s groups. AsAlilberg-Maina (1991) notes, older women continue to hold positions ofpower in the women’ groups even though they might be illiterate. The older women’s experiences areimportant to this study because their views give a picture of how cultural assumptions aboutwomen’s roles have changed over a relatively short period oftime.70The ages of the three professional women ranged between 35 and 38 years.6 Theprofessional women are the role models rural women would like their daughters to become.Some rural women idealize education as a panacea to the social and economic difficulties thatwomen face. However, the professional women’s stories/experiences attest to the fact thatwomen’s educational and economic inequities do not disappear with good education.The level of education of the women who participated in this study ranged from 0 to18+ years of formal schooling. The professionals have the highest number of years of formaleducation. They have had at least 12 years of formal education followed by two or moretraining in a tertiary institution. All the professional women I talked to lived and worked inNairobi although they grew up in Kilome division.All the women participated in my study knowing that whatever they said to me wasconfidential. I, also, promised them that I would use pseudonyms to protect their identity.6j had known these women when I lived in Kilome division. However, I obtained their current contactaddresses fmm their families who are still living in Kilome division.71Lh.V H U IiIw‘—%--‘CD%C—111i11-00—JC’—J—%C—i—-.c.J-J-‘.0-.-JC’‘.0I—.-.J..CDt.)%)-J..‘.‘CDCDCDCDCDCDCDCDCDCDCDCDCD0O’Q*—J........u.-..U.0000-.)-V.00ViV.‘.0)U.C’0000000U.‘.00’.V.‘.C’C’0’.0.C’a’.-..U.C’UI4.CD.L--24244.&44c,. CD—CDaDUI CD4.InterviewingThe major data collection strategy in the field were semi-structured open endedinterviews. As Reinharz (1991) points out, open-ended interview research makes it possible toexplore people’s views of reality from which theory may be generated. With the women inrural areas and in Salama, I conducted the interviews in the local dialect ofKikamba, a variantof Bantu language. I used a mixture of Kikamba, Swahili and English with the professionalwomen.7 Holding interviews in a mixture of the three languages was an advantage becausethere are certain words that attain their fbll meanings, strength and flavour only if expressed invernacular. Being a Mukamba and one who grew up in this area, I had an added advantage inthat I could understand the proverbs and idioms that the women used as well as the nuancesthat characterised the women’s way of talking. Laughter among Kamba women is acommunicative tool. There are certain ways that women can laugh to imply, for example,“subversiveness” on their part or in whatever you are suggesting to thent It would be difficultfor one who did not grow up in the village to understand these nuances.I conducted 38 interviews with individual women from Kilome Division. Theinterviews ranged from between 50 minutes and one and a half hours. I audio-taped theinterviews and wrote field notes. I preferred to write the notes after each interview because Ifound that the constant “burying” of my face to write something and then looking up to talkwith the women disturbed the flow of the story. I felt that the women would feel that I wasmore interested in getting infonnation from them for my personal good than in listening to71t is common for schooled people to mix their vernacular with English or Swahili.73them. I relied on my audio-tape and only wrote briefcomments on peculiar body language thatthe woman used.InterviewfDiscussion TopicsDiscussions were centred around the following issues, but during the discussionswomen brought in issues that were of importance to them that were not necessarily related tothese topics.1. Education. We discussed the education of girls in Kilome division, the education of theirchildren and their own education in that order. It would have been impolite for me as aneducated woman to begin by asking them what level of education they acquired becausethis would set up a situation of comparing educational achievements. We discussed thebarriers to girls’ education in Kilome division, availability of support for girls (governmentaid) and ways through which girls could be supported to achieve educational,employment/and income-generating skills. We discussed the women’s role in creatingeducational opportunities for their children and daughters in particular and their visions fortheir children and girls in particular.2. Paid and unpaid work. We discussed the kind of work that women do. This includes: (a)employment, (b) agricultural subsistence work for the provision of food for the family, (c)involvement in income-generating activities, and (d) possibilities and constraints that theyface in their participation in income-generating activities.3. Family and sexuality. We discussed issues pertaining to the family and what it means to beeither a wife, mother, sister or daughter. We talked about their spouses and where theylive and what they do. We talked about children and the number ofchildren that they have.744. Women’s self-help groups. We talked about the women’s participation in women’s groupand what they do, the purpose, and advantages of these groups.In my discussion, I tried as much as possible to avoid my specific agenda so that the womencould become freer to tell their stories as filly, completely, and honestly as they desired(Anderson & Jack, 1991).Translation of InterviewsIn order to complete this study, I had to translate the interviews from Kikamba toEnglish. Aware that advantages of interviewing in vernacular would be compromised duringtranslations, I tried to get clarifications from the women of the specific meaning of words thatthey used that I felt would be hard to translate into English. Asldng the women questions like“what do you mean by that?” “Please explain fin-the?’ helped me during my translation of theinterviews from Kikamba into English. Since language is dynamic, it was important for me toseek elaboration on words and phrases that were not familiar to me because Kikamba languageis laden with metaphors that can be altered to suit specific situations.During the translations of the interviews and writing of this ethnography, I havecontinued to examine my first translations seeking ways of improving thent I have sought myhusband’s knowledge of Kikamba and compared my interpretations of certain words andphrases with his own. His assistance has helped me to represent the women’s voices asaccurately as possible given my limitations and including the fact English is my third languageafter Swahili!75Writing EthnographyCulture is not itselfvisible but is made visible through its representation. Ethnography,the result of fieldwork is the written report that represents the culture. Writing ethnographiesis not unproblematic (Van Maanen, 1988). Gluck and Patai point out, moreover, that “womeninterviewing women is not an unproblematic activity either. Taping a woman’s words, askingappropriate questions, laughing at the right moment, displaying empathy—these are notenough” (1991, p.9). Anderson and Jack (1991) argue that for women interviewers to hearwomen’s perspectives accurately,we have to learn to listen in stereo, receiving both the dominant and muted channelsclearly and tuning into them carethily to understand the relationship between for stories that lie beyond constraints of acceptable discussion to the experiencethat lies outside the boundaries of acceptability. (p.11)Stacey (1991) argues that there is dissonance between fieldwork practice and theethnographic product. She argues that, “despite the fact that ethnographic methods place theresearcher and the informants in a collaborative, reciprocal quest for understanding, theresearch product is ultimately that of the researcher, however modified or influenced it may beby informants” (p. 114). Even though representing others is problematic, representation ofothers still remains crucial in the struggle for political and cultural empowerment for thosegroups who have remained silenced, due to specific material, intellectual and socialcircumstances (Salazar, 1991).I am conscious of the contradictions of writing an ethnography of the women ofKilome. On one hand lies the potential for exploitation and on the other hand is the crucialrole this ethnography contributes to understanding gender relations in African societies,specifically making visible women’s agency in the midst of harsh economic, social and political76contexts. Writing an ethnography ofKilome women is important to make their agency beyondmotherhood visible. Consequently, Kilome women’s discourses on education are“constructed” from interviews that I held with them as individuals and as a group. Thediscourses are constructed by putting gender at the centre of the women’s experiences.“Feminists researchers see gender as a basic organizing principle which profoundly shapesand/or mediates the concrete conditions of our lives” (Lather, 1991, p.17). The women’sexperiences are structured by gendered assumptions within different historical, cultural,economic and political contexts ofKenya society. The ethnography I am writing is influencedby what Lather (1991) calls postpositivists’ emancipatoiy approaches to inquiry with feministapproaches playing a major role. I am indeed “tempted” to call this work feministethnography (Stacey, 1991; Reinharz,1992).Reflections on Doing Research in Kilome DivisionScheurich (in press) argues that, “contrary to the fact that many, widely differingkinds of validity have been delineated across a burgeoning array of research paradigms,the myriad kinds of validity are simply masks that conceal a profound and disturbingsameness” (p. 1). He notes that validity wears different epistemological masks and heconcludes that validity as a practice across both conventional and postpositivist paradigmsis a civilization project, a biffircation reinscribing dominance of the Same over the Other.He advocates for “the validity of voice which does not prevent the innumerable voices ofdifference from participating equitably in the conversations of human kinds which is basedon the fact that the researcher is researching those from her or his own social location”(p.19).77My fieldwork took me back to the village where I was born and raised. Reflecting onmy entry into the research field I realize that I had to begin to think and act like one of thewomen ofKilome, a Mkamba woman, the ethnic group to which these women and I belong. Ihad to re-learn how to create the atmosphere in which women could become comfortable totell their stories. This involved abandoning the linear method ofinquiiy.When women meet they must share some food or a cup oftea. It is the Akamba beliefthat a host does not ask for a story (or questions) oftheir guest before he or she feeds them. Icould not begin to ask women to tell me about their experiences of education before I hadprepared the conditions for sharing experiences. For this reason I had to make tea and preparefood for the more than 120 women who met with me at various times during the fieldwork.After eating and drinking, I spoke with the women about the research, what I was doing andrequested their participation.I learnt from the women that I could not maintain a sequence of discussing theireducational experiences. For instance, it became clear that women were not preoccupied withwhy they left school. It was obvious that they had left school, but their major interest was tobegin talking about possibilities-their agency and using the past to inform the present. Thewomen gave me the message that they are living in the present and not in the past.Barriers and DilemmasMy age and education, at times, became barriers that had to be overcome for thewomen to tell their stories. For example, there were silences/gaps when I introduced the topicof sexuality. I attributed this silence to the fact that sexuality is seen as a taboo topic thatshould be handled in private. Traditionally, issues relating to sexuality were addressed during78circumcision period which involved youngsters of a specific age group. Our group discussionsinvolved women ofvarious ages. During these discussions, the young women did not feel freeto discuss sexuality in the presence of the older women. Older women seemed to have fewerdifficulties talking about their sexuality. This is not surprising because, culturally, it was theolder women, particularly grandmothers who discussed with granddaughters aspects of femalesexuality.Being partly an insider and relatively young was also a dilemma. The older womenmaintained the image of me as a child, they kept their image of me “frozen” in the past. Thisperception of me as a child provides explanation for the times when there would be prolongedsilence from the women. I was able to difihise their “frozen” image of me by invoking ourshared experiences particularly motherhood and wifehood. My children’s presence remindedthem that I was no longer a child. Often, I asked the oldest women to share with us how theyhave handled men. I suggested that it was important for us young women to hear how ourmothers worked their way around patriarchy. I stressed the commonality between the womenand myself to gain their trust. I was particularly amazed at how older women have usedsexuality to get their husbands’ attention. These proved to be important ways of breaking thesilence.Although there were benefits of being a local “girl,” there were also special tensionsthat arose as a result of this factor. My work with the women was seen as an interest inpolitics. The local member of parliament and his stalwarts could not believe that my researchwas not a cover-up for soliciting votes. Because rural people have the votes, politicians inKenya are concerned when those they perceive as potential competitors, professionals,79establish a relationship with the people at the grassroots level. My actions were interpreted asa preparation for the 1997 parliamentary elections. This rumour culminated in the visit to oneof the women’s self-help group’s meeting by a man from the Criminal InvestigationDepartment (C.I.D.). He was interested in knowing why the women met and if their meetingswere authorized. The visit enraged the women and they categorically refused to be harassedand intimidated by him. An older woman, a petty trader, confronted the special branch officerand stressed to him that women organizing was not a new phenomenon and indeed their grouphad authority to meet. She insisted that his visit was designed to intimidate women so that thewomen’s group would collapse. She had the support of all the other women. Thewomen challenged the man to sit down and listen to issues they were discussing. He could nottake the challenge and he excused himself and left.Rumours of what would be done to women who were found holding politicalgatherings under the guise of women’s self-help group did intimidate some women. Indeedsome of the women were “forced” to re-evaluate their membership in the women’s group.Some women stopped attending the meetings as a result of the visit by the C.I.D. official asthey feared what would happen to them if they were arrested. A week later the chairperson ofthis group was called to Kilome, the divisional headquarters of the Office of the President, toexplain the purpose of the group. She found the special branch man, who accused her ofbeing a leader of a gang of women who do not know how to speak to men! This wasbecause the man was challenged by women, which is an unacceptable reaction in a gender-stratified society.80The local MP, who has grade six education, certainly felt that if I declared my interestin his constituency, I would have a large following since he had not lived up to his campaignpromises and he was not making any effort to reach the people at the grassroots level whovoted him into parliament. The fact that I was working closely with the women was a threatto him as he did not have a similar relationship with his electorate, the majority of whom arewomen since so many men work away from the area. My attempts to bridge the gap betweenmyselfas an educated person and a woman with women in the grassroots level were construedas political and subversive. Demystification of power relations between researchers and researched and social change are some ofthe aims offeminist research.In conclusion, working with the women of Kilome division I became aware of theexclusion of rural women’s concerns and needs from the public discourses on education anddevelopment that affect their lives and those of their children. For example, women had noaccess to information on how to access government support for their children’s education or toget credit to improve their income-generating activities. As time passed and the women’s listof required information grew, I began to understand why one woman had said to me “maybeyou are an angel sent to help us penetrate this labyrinth.”In summary, the study aimed at supporting women to speak about their experiencesand identilr issues/factors that limited their participation in education, employment and inother social activities and how these factors have shaped and continue to shape their dailyexperiences. It aimed at empowering the women and demystiljing the power relationsinvariably involved in research. The study also aimed at supporting women in theirstruggle to change/shape social conditions that delineate their lives and to create and81and/or revive wider networks of support. The study employed research methodology thatmade visible women’s agency as social actors who formulate strategies for influencing andshaping the social system ofwhich they are a part.820,>;\Map 1. Research sites.AFRICAKENYA\\\\\Tan:J/ //—SI•-,‘k-‘•4(\\ 44 KIT U INAIROBI‘MAKUENt4“4“ ‘j Kilome .—‘‘ -‘i Oivsiona“L\k Headqoarters) I Kithumba— ‘ ‘ ViHageKyandueSalama Town-\o Village\‘i (\“I\ “ ,\ \\N—_•Li Athi-MOMBASA- -- District and Divisional Boundary83Chapter FourAnalysis of Education and Development Policy DocumentsIt is 10.30 am and bell rings to mark the end of thefirst session of theschool day. Kids dash out ofclasses like winged termites after a hecny downpour.A group ofgirls arejumping a sisal rope, another group of boys are playing with a ballmadefrom sisalpith . Close by is another group ofgirls, 8-10 yeas oldThey are singing, singing a “mature” song.Niw ‘aa nanonie nditinda ndilumangwa,ningusyoka kwitu ngatwawe nula ngwendaninguvoya Ngai ni syae twana twiliKala ka kavisi ndiketa Tom MboyaKala ka kelitu iii Ngina wa KenyattaorI have taken enough beatingsI will go back to my home andget married to a man ofmy choiceI willpray God to give me two childrenI will call the boy Tom MboyaI will call the girl Ngina KenyattaWhat does this song have to do with policy? Who was Tom Mboya and who wasNgina Kenyatta? Why would children from the Kamba ethnic group in Ukambani, theregion where I did my fieldwork, want to name their children after these two people fromthe Luo and Kikuyu ethnic groups? Why would they break their Kamba naming customsand name their children after some man and woman from a different ethnic group? Whatdid Tom Mboya and Ngina Kenyatta symbolize?Tom Mboya symbolized a model politician, freedom fighter, and an elite policymaker. Tom Mboya was the first Minister for Economic Planning and Development inindependent Kenya. Tom Mboya was a nationalist, his popularity transversing the 4684ethnic groups of Kenya. His popularity was perceived as a threat to the presidency ofMzee Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of independent Kenya. Mboya was assassinatedin 1969.Ngina Kenyatta, the wife of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was referred to as the motherof the nation- Mama (mother) Ngina Kenyatta. She was the president’s third wife, a “gift”to him from the Kikuyu, the president’s ethnic group. She was young and he was old.The president’s ability to father children at his advanced age was a source of pride for theold man and one he boasted ofwhen he addressed the nation during national holidays.Three decades after independence, policy making is still predominantly a malepreserve. The public discourse regarding the purpose of education of women and men inKenya is set out predominantly by male politicians and policy makers. Most womencontinue with their reproductive and productive roles in the private sphere as mothers,wives, daughters, sisters, caregivers, petty traders. These women’s work go unnoticedand their concerns remain invisible.After a brief historical overview, I will analyze Kenya government educationalpolicy recommendations reports which represent the public or official discourse oneducation in Kenya. I examine the official discourse on education as a state apparatus(Dale, 1989) set within the development discourse of Kenya and its impact on theeducation ofwomen in Kenya.Education assumes a central role in development plans in Kenya as in many othercountries. Peatie (1981), upon reviewing the history of development planning since themid-twentieth century concluded that “the planning of education has been placed squarely85and legitimately into development planning” (quoted in Thomas, 1992, p. 17).Government-initiated development plans in Kenya are influenced by internationaldevelopment agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMP)whose operations are perceived as far from being politically neutral by most members ofless developing countries (Brett, 1983). The education portion of national developmentplans typically assigns to the education system roles and responsibilities that willcontribute to the national development goals and suggests ways that the system should beimproved so that the roles may be performed more efficiently (Thomas, 1992).Unlike in the colonial times before independence in 1963, Kenyan policy makershave had the opportunity to formulate policies to enhance social, economic and politicaldevelopment of their country. Under colonial power, the people of Kenya had no voice ingovernment; the nation’s natural resources were organized and developed mainly for thebenefit of non-Africans; and the nation’s human resources remained largely uneducated,untrained, inexperienced and deprived of the economic benefits of their labour (Wanjigi,1983).As Freire (1985) argues, education is not a neutral enterprise, it is politicalthroughout. The colonial government had used education to enhance and maintain aracially segregated society. They had used education to regulate access to economic,political and social opportunities, consequently limiting Africans to occupations of a rural,semi-tribal society and to the lowest levels of the public administration (Ominde, 1964).At independence, education became an arm of the Kenya nation--a new notionwithin which, as the new leaders claimed, all people had equal rights. Education was86pressed into service to help to foster the psychological basis of nationhood, promotenational unity and serve as an instrument for the conscious change of attitudes. Leaders inindependent Kenya had been witnesses to the power of education in the control of social,economic and political opportunities during the colonial period. Consequently, thegovernment assumed central responsibility for education at all levels by removingresponsibility from various communal and religious bodies who managed the segregatedsystem (Gachathi, 1976).Since independence, the government’s control of education has been enshrined inthe Laws ofKenya under the Education Act. This Act entrusts the Minister of Educationwith the responsibility of promoting the education of “the people of Kenya and theprogressive development of institutions devoted to the promotion of education” (Laws ofKenya: The Education Act 1980, p. 5). The Minister is also “in charge of securing theeffective co-operation, under his [sic] general direction or control, of all public bodiesconcerned with education in carrying out the national policy for education” (p.5). TheEducation Act “allows the Minister to order or entrust any of his [sic] functions withrespect to education to a local authority on such terms, conditions or restrictions he[sic]think fit” (Laws of Kenya: The Education Act 1980, p.6).Involvement of the public is sought during the formulation of educational policyrecommendations. Often educators, parents, community leaders and the general public areinvited for interviews and their submissions are welcomed. Consequently, the “unofficial”voices are given an opportunity to contribute to the national discourse on education.87Whether their views have any impact on the educational guidelines that result from thesecommissions is another issue.I examine briefly the following government-initiated educational and developmentreports that have been produced over the last 30 years: Ominde Report (1964), SessionalPaper # 10 of 1965, Gachathi Report (1976), Mackay Report (1981), Wanjigi Report(1983), Kamunge Report (1988) and Ndegwa Report (1991). These reports give apicture of the pattern of changes in educational policies in Kenya since independence in1963 to the present. The policies have been used as guidelines in the formulation ofrelevant curricula. Downey (1988) argues that “policy is an instrument of governance andpolicy making involves the processing of needs and demands of society as well asestablishing of guidelines for the flinctioning of the system” (p. 23).The Ominde Report (1964) was the first educational document for independentKenya. Ominde educational policy recommendations set the path for formal Westerneducation in independent Kenya. New educational policies were recommended to presseducation into the service of Africans/Kenyans and afford them academic educationalopportunities denied them in the previous colonial African education system. TheGachathi Report (1976) examined the impact of the educational policies implemented atindependence on national development. The Mackay Report (1981) was the third majoreducational policy recommendation report. It examined the education system with aspecific mandate of laying policy directions for the establishment of a second universityafter Nairobi University. Closely following the Mackay Report was the Wanjigi Report(1983) which examined education’s role in the quest for solutions to the unemployment88problem in Kenya. The Wanjigi Report endorsed the Mackay Report’s recommendationsof re-structuring the entire education system as a strategy for combating unemployment.The Kamunge Report (1988) reviewed national education and training for the next decadeand beyond. The latest policy document, the Ndegwa Report (1991), addressedunemployment in Kenya, both in the short and long term.Along with the education documents, I will also examine the following. SessionalPaper Number 10 of 1965 derived from the Kenya African National Union (KANTJ)lManifesto (1963), is important to include because it adopted and entrenched colonial(European) concepts of individualism exemplified in individual male property ownership.Property ownership and specifically land ownership vests in individuals the power to enterinto social relations on the basis and extent of their property (Dale, 1989). As educationhas become central to national development plans, I will also look at the educationsections in the 1974-78 and 1989-93 development plans.I analyze the policy documents in light of the political, social and economicrhetoric of the time. The analysis involves examining the public discourse in relation to thefollowing: (a) The role of education in national development, (b) women’s educationincluding access and barriers, (c) women and the economy, and (d) women and the family.I examine the public discourse on education for the rationale for providing womenwith educational opportunities. I am interested in finding out whether there has been acommitment to providing women with educational opportunities equal to those of theirmale counterparts or whether educational opportunities for women have been merely partof improving delivery of services as mothers and/or wives in the private sphere. This‘The ruling party since independence in 1963.89examination makes visible the gendered and cultural assumptions of femininity andmasculinity legitimated at the public national level. In conclusion, I examine the shiftingpolicy themes and the treatment ofgender in the policy documents since independence. Iexamine the policy documents chronologically beginning with the Ominde Report of 1964.Ominde Report (1964)The Ominde Report of 1964 was produced by the Kenya Education Commissionwhich was initiated by the President of Kenya, a week after independence, on December19, 1963. The Kenya Education Commission was composed of 14 members, 13 men and1 woman, all of whom were appointed by the Minister of Education. The Commissionwas chaired by Professor Simeon H. Ominde, one of the few Africans to hold academiccredentials at the time. Four commissioners were members of parliament, others werehigh ranking civil servants, and some were academics. The sole female member was notan academic or a politician. She participated in the panel that examined primary leveleducation.The Commission had the task of formulating policies on education to serve thenew Kenyan nation. Previous colonial policies dealt with education as separate socialactivities along racial lines as European education, Asian education and African education.Africans were given an education deemed suitable to their position in colonial life and“appropriate” to the African population, the lowest echelons of the society. Colonialpolicy on the education of Afficans ensured that most of the African population had littleor no education.90Members of the public were invited to present written and oral submissions to thecommission. This invitation gave educators, critics and other members of the public anopportunity to express their views. Although the commissioners claimed that their netwas flung widely and they sought, and obtained, a great deal of information about thethinking of people in all parts of the country on educational problems, the final policyrecommendations were their sole responsibility. Important to this study are the policyrecommendations in respect to (a) education and national development, (b) participationof women in educational and economic activities, and (c) domestic labour.The Ominde Report noted the crucial role education had to play in the cultural,social, economic and political development of the newly-found nation of Kenya. Kenyawas in a period of multiple transitions from a subsistence to a monetary economy, fromdevelopment of natural and human resources for others to the development of theseresources for the benefit ofKenya (Ominde, 1964). The Report noted that a highly skilledAfrican labour force was required not only to take up positions that had previously beenoccupied by Europeans and Asians but also to meet the nation’s economic development.The Ominde Report recommended provision of universal basic education and productionof high level African skilled human resource for cultural, economic and political reasons.Education in newly-found Kenya was set to (a) foster a sense of nationhood and nationalunity, (b) serve all Kenyans without discrimination, (c) promote social equality andremove divisions of race. tribe and religion, (d) respect the cultural traditions of thepeoples of Kenya, both as expressed in social institutions and relationships (Ominde, 1964,p. 25, emphasis added). Consequently, the education system was placed into the service91of achieving the social, cultural, economic and political goals of a newly-independentnation.At the eve of independence, women were underrepresented in education in Kenyasince education was developed by the colonial administrators along gender and racial lines.The Ominde Report rejected appeals for girls only boarding primary schools. Advocatesof girls only boarding primary schools had argued that “in mixed schools their [girls’]interests are neglected, that they are used by teachers for the performance of dutiesunrelated to the classroom, and even that there are moral dangers in mixed education atthe upper primary age” (p.65). The Report argued that providing boarding primaryschools for girls only would not only be expensive but would not necessarily solve theproblems identified by proponents of single-sex schools. The commissioners argued that aprogressive educational policy for the promotion of good relations and mutual respectbetween the sexes clearly required that boys and girls be educated together in the sameschools at the primary level. The Report, however, recommended single-sex secondaryschools as requested by a large number of heads of schools who made oral submissions tothe commission.The Ominde report noted that the need to Kenyanize or Afficanize the entireinfrastructure of the modern work force, particularly management positions, demandedquick production of highly skilled African manpower [sic] from a pooi of uneducatedAfricans. “The African majority, under colonial rule, had been left with educationalprospects which, despite popular pressure, were limited by sheer numbers, by the modest92means placed at their disposal and by the social and occupational role to which they wererestricted” (Ominde, 1964, P. 21).In summary, the conmilssioners did not seek to replace the colonial educationoffered in Kenya prior to independence. Rather, they sought to change the rules thatregulated the educational opportunities to favour the “African-Kenya.” The category ofrace eclipsed other forms of inequalities that were part of the inherited colonial system ofeducation and governance. Policy recommendations zeroed in on race issues such as theAfricanization of the modern sector. The commissioners emphasized meeting theeducational needs of the “Affican.” Subtly, the education system after independencenegated the existence of gender barriers in access to educational opportunities andemployment opportunities. In addition, the Ominde Report emphasized academiceducation as a prerequisite for participation in the formal/modern employment sector, andemphasized the modern sector which is urban based. This approach accelerated the rural-urban migration of mostly male job seekers.Sessional Paper # 10: African Socialism (1965)The Sessional Paper # 10: African Socialism and its Application to Planning policydocument was produced in 1965, approximately 18 months after independence. It was anin-depth elaboration of the principles of the Democratic African Socialist State as perdeclarations in the KANU Manifesto of 1963. The KANU Manifesto was a set ofdeclarations that were adopted by the government of Kenya at independence, to provideguidance in its approach to social, economic and political developmental matters.93The Sessional Paper emphasized rapid economic growth as the guiding principleupon which all policies in independent Kenya would be made and implemented. Rapideconomic growth was seen as a solution to the social, economic and political difficultiesthat Kenya was facing. In this Paper, the government noted that a highly skilled humanresource and new property laws were necessary to enhance economic development.Education was seen as much, or more, of an economic than a social service. Itwas a principal means for relieving the shortage of domestic skilled workforce andequalizing economic opportunities among all citizens and the acceleration ofAfricanization. Production of high skilled human resource was seen as a major factor toenhance economic growth. The government warned that free education could not beprovided at the expense of economic growth. It also warned that no individual or groupwould be permitted to exert undue influence on policies of the State. It was made clearthat “the State, was never to become the tool of special interests, catering to the desiresof a minority at the expense of the needs of the majority” (Sessional Paper # 10, 1965,p.3).The government argued that Kenya was in a transition from a subsistenceeconomy to a monetary economy and needed to mobilize resources to attain a rapid rateof economic growth. This economic mobilization and reorganization of resources neededplanning, direction, control and cooperation. It was pointed out that:Kenya is in a period of multiple transition set in motion by the attainment ofIndependence. We are in transition from a subsistence to a monetaryeconomy, from an economic dependence on agriculture to a morebalanced growth, from a development of natural resources for others to adevelopment of human and natural resources for the benefit of the peopleofKenya. (Sessional Paper # 10, 1965, p.1 emphasis added)94Selected language was used to make Kenyans feel that the changes made were for theirgood-development of human and natural resources for the benefit of the people of Kenya.Ensuing policies, particularly those that dealt with property (land) ownership andgovernment’s perceptions of equity issues, denied women social, economic and politicalrights.In pre-colonial Kenya, land was essentially communally or tribally owned. In thecolonial period, land registration policy was introduced. This policy was reinforced inpost-colonial Kenya. During this time, Kenyans were warned that traditional attitudestowards rights to land would not be carried over to a modern, monetary economy. It waspointed out that “a credit economy rests heavily on a system of land titles and registrationand, ownership of land must, therefore, be made more definite and explicit if landconsolidation and development are to be fully successful” (Sessional Paper Number 10,1965, pp.10-il). The “new” meanings of ownership, adopted from the colonialists,emphasized the individual rather than shared/communal ownership and encouraged andfacilitated the transfer of property from the community to individuals. Consequently, landwas registered under the name of the head of the household or a male relative. Thisgreatly limited women’s access to land. The issuance of land title deeds to men as headsof households gave, and still gives men absolute control over the use of the land includingthe disposal of the land against the will of the wife and children.The Paper also repudiated the existence of classism in Kenya. It claimed that thesharp class divisions that existed in Europe had no parallel in African society and no place95in “African Socialism,”2which was the public political perspective at that time. Thedocument stated that no class problem arose in the traditional African society and noneexists today among African” (Sessional Paper # 10, 1965). The Paper did not discussgender issues. However, the recommended policy directions impacted men and womendifferently.1974-78 Development PlanThe 1974-78 Development Plan defined the economic, social and political contextwithin which the Gachathi Report was realized in 1976. The Plan gave the directions andlimits within which policy recommendations were to be made so that national needs werenot jeopardized. Economic development was the central theme of this development plan.Ten years after independence, the countiy had failed to attain rapid economicgrowth due to external and internal factors. Internally, there was a political crisis asleaders questioned the interpretations of “African Socialism” by the president of Kenya.Such leaders included Ja Ramogi Oginga Odinga who had resigned his position as thecountry’s vice president because he felt that the ideals of “African Socialism” had beenviolated and replaced with those of Western capitalism. Kenya also had to address thechallenges of high unemployment rate, an education and economic system that promotedrural-urban migration, high population growth and high costs of educating Kenyansparticularly at higher levels of education. Educational changes had to be instituted notonly to cope with the sluggish economy but to stimulate its growth. These included (a)2The term African Socialism was used to describe an African political and economic system that is“positively African not being imported from any countay or being a blueprint of any foreign ideology butcapable of incorporating useful and compatible techniques from whatever source” (Sessional Paper # 10,1965, pp. 2-3).96curriculum changes from an emphasis on academic to vocational education, and (b)reduction of government spending on education and the introduction of the cost-sharingstrategy. As Dale (1989) argues, demands for education to become more economicallyrelevant become louder when the economy is doing badly (p. 95).The Plan recommended the introduction of applied subjects into secondary schoolsin an effort to provide school-leavers with skills needed by the Kenya economy.Vocational education was seen as capable of solving the unemployment problem byproviding school-leavers with the necessary skills needed in industry and also needed skillsfor self-employment. Vocational education was seen as capable of curbing the rural-urbanmigration by creating jobs in rural areas and making rural areas more attractive places tolive and work. Nevertheless, the vocational education offered was limited by lack ofphysical facilities (workshops and equipment) and by areas of concentration. The offeredcourses were wood work, masonry, carpentry and tailoring. These were gender-specific,giving boys more opportunities than girls. The potential for self-employment was furthercurtailed by lack of resources to purchase tools and equipment.Recommendations were made in the Development Plan to introduce cost-sharingat the secondary and tertiary levels of education. Kenyans had to take more responsibilityfor educating themselves. The independence promises of provision of free education toKenyans changed to reflect the prevailing economic circumstances. It was argued thateducation was no longer a right but a privilege, as well as a scarce item. Each one whohad access to education was warned to “occupy his [sic] time wisely and learn as much as97he [sic] can for his [sic] own benefit and for the greater future of his [sic] nation”(Development Plan, 1974-78, p, 22).The cost-sharing strategy proposed in this Plan demanded that parents increasetheir financial participation in their children’s education through payment of tuition andnon-tuition fees. This strategy increased limitations on girls’ educational and economicopportunities because when resources are scarce parents are more likely to invest in theeducation of boys than that of girls due to cultural gendered assumptions surroundingmasculinity and femininity. This Plan, however, did not address the impact of cost-sharingstrategy within a class and gender-stratified society.Gachathi Report (1976)The Gachathi Report was the second policy document devoted solely to educationafter independence. It was realized within the economic, political and social contextdefined by the 1974-78 Development Plan. The Gachathi Report emphasized the need foreducational changes not only to cope with the sluggish economy but also to stimulate itsgrowth. The Report was produced by a Committee of 24 commissioners, headed by thePermanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Peter Gachathi. Two of thecommissioners were women. One was a headmistress of the oldest African girls highschool and the other a lecturer in the Home Economics department in Kenyatta UniversityCollege. The male commissioners included high ranking academics, heads of postsecondary institutions, senior civil servants and successful businessmen.The commissioners solicited background papers from a select group ofacademicians and educators. Of the 32 papers presented, only 2 came from female98academicians, with no doctorates or any significant political or social clout. Invited alsofor interviews and/or to submit memoranda were representatives of organizations,departments and interested individuals. The commissioners examined the impact ofOminde’s educational policies on the economy with a mandate of providing new directionsfor education in Kenya to stimulate economic growth.For a decade since the Ominde Report, Kenya’s economy had not grown asanticipated. Instead, unemployment and rural-urban migration rates were higher. Thetransition from a “traditional” society dependent on agricultural subsistence to a modemsociety had produced undesirable results which had become impediments to economicgrowth. School enrolments had been accompanied by high drop-out rates. The academicsystem of education was accused of promulgating the myth that formal educationautomatically led to high wage employment in the modem urbanized sector of theeconomy. This myth had resulted in heavy rural-urban migration in search of non-existentjobs (p.xvii). The commissioners claimed that school leavers (graduates) did not have theskills that were required in major areas of national development (Gachathi, 1976).Education had, however, successfully provided some highly skilled labour for participationin the modem sector as well as Africanization of the same.The country was faced with high unemployment, high drop-out rates anduncontrollable rural-urban migration, problems that were in most ways related to theeducation system. Although it was perceived that the education system had performedpoorly in its role in national development, the commissioners recommended neweducational policy directions to be adopted so that education could play its rightful role in99national development (Gachathi, 1976). Gachathi’s Report focused on (a) women andeducation, and (b) education and rural development as areas that could contribute toeconomic development.The Report pointed out that, although half of the human resources required fornational development consisted of women, the general status of education and the skills ofwomen had lagged behind that of men. It noted that if national development was to bemaximized the basic knowledge and skills possessed by women should at least be equal tothose of men. The Report recommended that “basic educational and skill attributesacquired by women be continually supplemented by lifelong and effective non-formallearning since women are also biologically responsible for bearing and rearing children”(Gachathi, 1976, p. 47, emphasis added).These policy recommendations aimed at addressing gender disparities ineducational opportunities in Kenya which had not been addressed by the Ominde Report.The Gachathi Report noted that the underlying reasons for gender imbalances inopportunities were traditions, beliefs and prejudices held by people regarding the roles andoccupations of women. The commissioners noted that these had to be modified orabolished. Women did not have adequate formal education and the majority of educatedwomen chose careers that restricted them to gender-specific careers such as nursing,secretarial and teaching. In addition, the Gachathi Report pointed out that “it must beremembered that the prominent life pattern for the majority of women, even for those whohave had good education and training will include essential family responsibilities and interms of careers, this would mean a life of multiple roles and occasional disturbances” (p.10045). The Report suggested the following policy recommendations to address genderimbalances and increase women’s educational and economic opportunities.(a) make more secondary schools co-educational (to give more girls opportunitiesin the larger number ofboys only schools),(b) increase opportunities for girls in science,(c) provide compensatory enrolments for women at the post-secondary anduniversity levels of education,(d) increase non-formal education and training for women, with particularemphasis on their economic roles,(e) evolve an integrated structure of non-formal education and training at nationaland local levels and to give emphasis to the role of women in the economy byrecruiting more of them as agricultural and extension officers,(1) improve the career guidance programme in schools, especially for girls.(Gachathi, 1976, p. 47)The Gachathi Report also recommended the provision of “free” universal basiceducation for enhancing the efforts toward equality of economic opportunities andnational unity in the country. It stated that the primary level of education would help allcitizens contribute fully to social and economic development of the country. Nevertheless,within this “free” education rhetoric, parents had to meet the costs of uniforms, buildingfunds, equipment levies and activity fee (Gachathi, 1976). The latter costs constitute oneof the principal impediment to girls’ education and are responsible for high dropout ratesamong primary and secondary school girls.The Gachathi Report focused on rural areas as sites of development. The Reportdefined development as the totality of the processes of change aimed at enhancing thequality of life of the people living in rural areas. Although policies relating to rural areasare important to women because women constitute 70-80% of the rural populations, thisis not the reason why the Report focused on rural areas. Rather, the shift from urban to101rural development was an attempt to reduce the rural-urban exodus of young,predominantly male, job-seekers, in search of scarce employment.The Report pointed out that the future pattern of national development needed todepend on greatly accelerated rural development. Consequently, Gachathi Reportrecommended lifelong education for rural development with formal schooling being aperipheral part. Lifelong education was seen as capable of promoting social, cultural andeconomic values (Gachathi, 1976). Rural-urban migration was associated with formalacademic education which instilled white collar job values, poverty and poor livingstandards in the rural areas. The Gachathi Report linked rural poverty with lack ofknowledge, skills and resources. The Report recommended the improvement of thepattern of distribution of incomes and pricing structures in the rural areas as a way toreduce the rural-urban migration. Nevertheless, Townsend (1993) argues that policies ondistribution of incomes would have no effect on poverty in rural areas because they areambiguous and incapable of dealing with rural poverty. Rural poverty is pervasive andlimits educational opportunities made available to children and to girls in particular.Townsend argues that policies on poverty would be more effective if there was acommitment to re-distributing wealth from the rich to the poor.Gachathi Report’s policy recommendations attempted to break the “officialsilence” on gender inequities in educational opportunities. It also drew attention to themultiplicity of roles that women engage in as workers, mothers and/or wives. The Reportprovided an opportunity for the construction of gender as a category of analysis of102educational opportunities. Nevertheless, few subsequent policy documents have usedgender as a category in the formulation of educational and development policies.Mackay Report (1981)The Mackay Report was produced in 1981 by a Working Party appointed toreview the higher education system in Kenya in relation to rural development objectivesand to recommend how a proposed second university could best assist in their attainment.The Working Party was appointed by the president of Kenya. It consisted of 17 men, themajority of whom had high academic achievements. They were all high ranking Kenyancivil servants, except the Canadian chairperson, Dr. Mackay.The country was faced with growing unemployment, intensified by rural-urbanmigration of school leavers in search of limited employment opportunities in the formalemployment sector. Limited expansion of the formal employment sector had forced thegovernment to shift some of its investment from the formal employment sector based inthe urban areas to development programmes in rural areas. Policy makers argued thatrural development would ensure economic growth, reduce unemployment and curb therural-urban migration. In addition, they argued that the creation of a second publicuniversity would enable the government to maintain its control over higher educationwhich was being threatened by the mushrooming of private universities cashing in on thehigh number of qualified school-leavers, faced not only with lack of access to the localuniversity and university colleges, but unable to find jobs or create their own. The privateuniversities’ curricula were regarded as not being in line with national planning.103The Working Party recommended the expansion of higher education for ruraldevelopment. Higher education was seen as having the potential to facilitate the needs ofnational development objectives “through the production of skilled and high levelmanpower, dissemination of knowledge, appreciation of national environment andresources, and through research and development of more efficient machinery for theutilization of those resources” (p. 7). The second university, unlike the previous one,therefore, had to be oriented towards provision of skills to enhance rural developmentrather than for the modern sector.The Report recommended restructuring of the education system from 7-4-2-3(seven years primary, four secondary, two advanced level and three years of university) to8-4-4 (eight years of primary, four secondary and four of university). Each level would beterminal. The Report recommended that all students in the secondary level of educationneeded to take science and mathematics for graduation. It also recommended curriculachanges at both primary and secondary levels with more emphasis on practical courses toprovide skills for self-employment. These recommendations were seen as solutions to thegrowing demand for higher education, unemployment, rural-urban migration and sluggisheconomy.This Working Party did not use gender as a category in its examination ofeducation. Its recommendations were based on 12 topics which they felt encompassed thedifferent areas in need of investigation. None of these topics addressed or raised anyissue in relation with women. Nevertheless, the recommendations had a direct bearing onwomen’s participation in education and economic activities.104At the primary level, the Report emphasized practical or vocational courses forself-employment. These included mansoiy, carpentry and tailoring. Females were limitedto tailoring since masonry and carpentry are traditional male trades. At the secondarylevel, the Report recommended science and mathematics subjects to be made compulsory.This would privilege boys whose schools are well equipped to teach science subjects. Atthe higher level, the emphasis was on the production of “skilled and high levelmanpower[sic]” for rural development. The commissioners emphasized scientific andtechnical skills at the higher level. These are skills that most women do not have theopportunity to acquire because many girls do not study the prerequisite pure sciencecourses in the lower levels of education. Consequently, these recommendations, thoughoutwardly gender neutral, exacerbated gender inequities in access to educational andeconomic opportunitiesWanjigi Report (1982/83)The Wanjigi Report was produced by a committee appointed by the president toexamine the unemployment problem with respect to the rural and urban formal andinformal employment sectors. This committee consisted of nine men. It was chaired byMama Wanjigi who also was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Planning andEconomic Development. One member was an academic and the rest were high-rankingcivil servants. The Report concluded that, “despite the impressive achievements inimproving the living standards of Kenyans since independence, incomes were still low andmajority of the people were still very poor” (Wanjigi, 1982/83, p. v). The academic-oriented education system was seen as the major contributing factor to unemployment.105Wanjigi’s Report endorsed the Mackay Report recommendations to restructure theeducation system from 7-4-3-3 to 8-4-4 system of education and to create a second publicuniversity. The Report noted that within the 8-4-4 education system, there would be anemphasis on practical skill development and a deliberate exposure to practical problems ofthe nation (p.51).Again, poor economic growth, high unemployment rates, rural-urban migration,expansion in education and increasing costs of public education were the major factorsthat influenced policy recommendations. Expansion in schooling meant an increasednumber of school leavers. “Education and training was costing Kenya 41 per cent of theGross Domestic Product, making it the largest budgetary allocation to a singlegovernment service”(p. 47).Education was still seen as a tool for solving social, economic and politicalproblems facing Kenya. The Report recommended that the education system be madeflexible, relevant, adaptive and vocational-contraiy to the operating one which was said tobe weak, inflexible and geared towards white collar jobs despite earlier reportsemphasizing vocationalization and rural development. The operating system of educationwas accused of not adjusting to the changing aspirations of individual Kenyans and to theneeds of the labour market in terms of new skills, new technologies and proper attitudestoward work. The commissioners claimed that this characteristic of the education systemhad resulted in the “paradoxical situation where acute shortages of manpower and massiveunemployment exist side by side” (p. 48). The Report stated that:The primary goal of education in any society is to harness and develop the talentsand human potentialities of every individual so that he [sic] can fulfil his [sic]moral, intellectual and material needs and also contribute to the general well-being,106survival and development of that society. Education is a lifelong process throughwhich an individual acquires knowledge and skills that enable him [sic] tounderstand and adapt to an ever-changing physical and social environment andultimately to realize his[sic] optimal worth. (p.45)The Wanjigi Report claimed that existing problems, increasing numbers of schoolleavers, rural to urban migration, job selectivity, dominance of an academic orientation andproblems in personality development, could be solved by an education that emphasizedtraining for self-employment. Education, thus, was to be manipulated to achieve thesegoals. Prevocational subjects were to be introduced to make primaiy level educationterminal to provide its graduates with skills necessary for self-employment. The Reportcontinued the emphasis on vocationalism and suggested that carpentry, metalwork,masonry, home science, basket making, tailoring and book-keeping be introduced at theprimary level.The Wanjigi Report recommended the removal of the distinction betweeneconomic and non-economic activities in relation to women’s work in the rural areas sincemost women were economically active as they contributed most of the labour required forthe cultivation of food and cash crops on family holdings. The Report noted that:The vast majority of Kenyan women, some 88 per cent of the total, reside in therural areas and most of them are economically active. . . .Even when women arenot busy with economic activities, they are occupied in household duties, whichalso contribute to the living standards of the household. . . . Usual estimates offemale participation rate in the labour force are thus misleading so far as ruralKenya is concerned. (p.32)The Report also claimed that, although the majority of women in the formal employmentsector worked as casuals, more women were participating in the broader occupational107groups of professionals, executive and managerial personnel. Wanjigi Report observedthat:With a high population growth rate, increasing scarcity of land for cultivation,growing migration of women to urban areas and rising rates of participation ofwomen in educational system, the percentage of unemployed in the modern sectorjobseekers has been higher among women than among men. (p.33)The Wanjigi Report recommended the introduction of sex education in primaryschool and primary teachers’ curricula since uncontrolled population growth was seen as amajor obstacle to economic growth. It justified the introduction of sex education at theprimary level on the grounds that “children reached puberty at this stage” and “lack ofknowledge about sex and reproduction has been one of the causes of pregnancies amongschool girls” (p.57). Nevertheless, the Report failed to address the victimization ofadolescent girls whose pregnancy marks the end of formal education. The Report, also,did not address the issue of the men who are responsible for these pregnancies who, mostof the time are teachers or other mature men. These men often threaten and coerce thegirls into engaging in sexual activities and then disown the girls when they becomepregnant.Kamunge Report (1988)The Kamunge Report was the fourth Report solely devoted to education. It camefour years after the implementation of the 8-4-4 system of education first recommended bythe Mackay Report of 1981. The Kamunge Report examined the 8-4-4 educationalphilosophy, policies and objectives to ensure that they were in consonance with changingsocial, cultural, economic and political demands of the country. The 8-4-4 system had108been hastily implemented without physical facilities, workshops teaching and learningmaterials. Furthermore, the government could not cope with the financial demands of thissystem. A working party was appointed to work out an intensive cost-sharing plan forfinancing education and training in the country. The working party consisted of 18commissioners two of whom were women. Most of the men were senior civil servants.One of these women served as a secretary. The chair of the working party was JamesKamunge, the Director of Education.The Report emphasized the centrality of education and training in helping thenation to meet the many challenges of socio-economic development. It stressed the needfor education and training to offer the youth with skills and attitudes that lead to self-reliance, self-employment and prepare for life and employment in the rural areas (p.1emphasis added). The Kamunge Report noted that although education was a vehicle foreconomic development, the government of Kenya could not afford to finance theexpanding education system. Kenya was under pressure from the World Bank andInternational Monetary Fund (IMP) to reduce her educational expenditure which theWorld Bank and IMF claimed had contributed to the increasing debt deficit and was anobstacle to economic development. The World Bank and IMF proposed increased costsharing between the government and communities, parents and beneficiaries of educationand training. The Working Party recommended the immediate implementation of therevised cost-sharing strategy, first implemented after the 1974-78 Development Plan. Theworking party claimed that the increased cost-sharing would “accelerate the expansion of109education and training opportunities and thereby increase access to education and trainingat all levels and to ensure their quality and relevance”(p. 2)The Report did not address gender issues in its examination of the economicproblems facing Kenya. However recommended policies such as the increased cost-sharing strategy would have adverse effect on women’s education. The strategy meantthat in rural areas, for example, communities would be expected to take moreresponsibility in the building of schools and teachers’ houses. Parents had to cover thecosts of books, uniforms, exercise books, activity fees, medical care and additional feesthat the community may impose from time to time. The increasing demand for physicaland material labour in order to meet these costs has increased rural women’s totalworkload.1989-93 Development PlanThe 1989-93 Development Plan set the political and economic context for theNdegwa Report. The Plan pioneered the incorporation of the structural adjustmentprocess. It provided policy guidelines to enhance economic growth, and addressunemployment, population growth and rural-urban migration. The Plan was prepared bythe Ministry ofPlanning and National Development.The Plan attempted to formulate policies that would promote renewed and rapideconomic growth, increase productivity in agriculture, raise rural incomes and restructureindustries. In this Plan, the general status of women and their role in development washighlighted. The gender discourse on development was in consonance with that in theWorld Bank Country Study of 1989 which examined the role of women in economic110development in Kenya. Contrary to the rhetoric on women’s contribution to development,the Plan emphasized heavy investment in agriculture in the large scale but not in the smallscale sector where most of the rural women operate and earn income to afford theirchildren educational opportunities.Girls and boys enrolment parity at the primary level was claimed to be a measureof the government’s commitment to the provision of equal educational opportunities togirls and boys. This parity, however, was accompanied by a 60% drop out rate for girlswhich the government attributed to “social and biological” factors (p.20). These “socialand biological” factors were not identified and therefore no policies were recommended toaddress them.In the Plan, it was noted that most women did not have the education required toparticipate in the formal employment sector. Most women were concentrated in the“traditional sector where they made a vital contribution in the production of food and cashcrops, raising of livestock and provision of essential domestic services” (DevelopmentPlan, 1989-93 p. 28). It was pointed out that women have been slow to rise to prominentleadership positions in modern Kenya because of unfavourable social attitudes. The lowstatus of women in Kenya was associated with colonialism. The Plan claimed that“colonial subjugation and its attendant Victorian attitudes toward women both as workersand partners in life eroded women’s economic and social status” (1989-1993 DevelopmentPlan, p. 28, emphasis added). The planners claimed that Kenya, however, had beenworking towards the restoration of women to their active role, not only in thedevelopment of the economy but also in the ownership and control of wealth arising from111economic production. It was claimed that women’s quality of life as measured by suchindicators as education, health, urbanization, employment and incomes had improvedconsiderably since independence. The Plan, however, did not substantiate what werethe “unfavourable social attitudes” that limited women from leadership positions.Consequently, these unfavourable social attitudes remained invisible, and incapable ofpolicy solutions.Ndegwa Report (1991)The Ndegwa Report was produced by The Presidential Committee on Employmentto address the increasing unemployment, rural-urban migration and high populationgrowth. The Gulf crisis and a serious external debt burden had made it impossible forKenya to invest in the economy to improve conditions at home. The Committee,appointed by the president in April, 1990, consisted of 16 members most of whom weresenior civil servants. Two of the members of this committee were women with highacademic credentials. Both of these women are advocates of women’s rights at local andinternational levels. The chairperson was Philip Ndegwa who was a permanent secretary.The Committee associated unemployment with Kenya’s historical colonial legacy ofdichotomizing the economy and labour market into urban and rural sectors, formal andinformal sectors and large scale and small sectors with a major urban bias.The tone of the Report, particularly, in relation to women and development, was inline with Kenya’s 1989 World Bank Country Study’s recommendations. The Reportendorsed the World Bank’s recommendations such as the emphasis on basic education forwomen in order to enhance fertility control. The financial support for this project112provided by The United Nations Development Programme also had an effect on theReport.The Report emphasized the role of basic education for economic growth andrecommended the provision of universal primary education by the year 2000. The Reportclaimed that (a) farmers and informal sector workers with primary education are one-thirdmore productive than workers who have not had basic education, and (b) educated andliterate people are likely to be more productive and will do better in most activities. TheReport claimed that the education of women “contributes significantly towards manyother desirable objectives such as that of reducing population growth” (p. 161). TheReport drew attention to the high levels of illiteracy rates in Kenya, 44 per cent for malesand 57 per cent for females.The Report commended women’s economic activities in the informal sector as wellas their reproductive labour. It noted women’s role in agriculture, food production, cashcrop production and in small-scale industries. The Ndegwa Report also noted women’snurturing roles as mothers and custodians of family health and welfare, especially that ofyoung children, as contributing to the quality of the country’s labour force. It claimed thatwomen’s contribution to development has been widely acknowledged in official policystatements and development literature. In addition, the Ndegwa Report alleged that “thegovernment has directed significant efforts at measures for promoting women’sdevelopment and in redressing the disadvantages suffered by women during colonialperiod especially due to the neglect of their education.” (p. 229, emphasis added).113The Report claimed that female representation in the modern sector had risen toover 21 percent in 1990 compared to 12.2 per cent in 1964. Most of the women in theformal sector, however, were employed in low ranks and were concentrated in the servicesector. The Report recommended an increase in number of places for women in keypositions in the formal employment sector.The Report recommended the following deliberate measures to be instituted by theGovernment to improve women’s performance, enhance their productivity and efficiencyand increase their employment opportunities.i) Development planning to be done with specific reference to genderissues,ii) Government to implement the Convention on the Elimination of AllForms of Discrimination Against Women,iii) The introduction of a common curriculum for girls and boys in technicaltraining to encourage girls to take up courses that give them more optionsand opportunities for employment,iv) A policy to increase the number of opportunities for women in keypositions in both private and public sectors,v) Women, especially in the rural areas be ensured access to information ofimportance to them. (p. 232-33)The Report recommended that the government increase women’s earning potentialby supporting them through home-based income-generating activities such as tailoring andfood processing, activities that were particularly suited to women’s multiple roles.The Report also recommended fluiher increases in parents’ contribution to theirchildren’s education irrespective of the fact that by 1991 many parents could not meettheir current 70% share. This increase has had serious implications for girls’ educationalopportunities particularly when a family cannot raise its quota. In such situations, a family114will choose to educate a boy for cultural reasons. Many girls have been deniededucational opportunities on these groundsIn general, this Report treated gender issues in Kenya in some detail and maderecommendations that aimed at addressing gender inequities. The inclusion of genderissues in this Report could be associated with (a) participants in the Committee, and (b)the development discourse of the time propagated by development agencies such as theWorld Bank and reflected in Kenya’s Development Plans, particularly the 1989-93Development Plan. Participating in the Committee were two high level female academics.One was Dr. Eddah Gachukia, former chairperson of the national Women’s Organizationin Kenya, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake (The Progress of Women) and, at present, anexecutive member of FAWE-the Federation of African Women Educationalist. The otherwas Dr. Wanjiru Mwagiru, a professor in the local university and a presenter of themonthly “Women in Development” television programme.ConclusionsIn conclusion, I briefly examine the changes in the policy themes and the treatmentof gender in the policy discourse articulated in policy documents.An examination of the public discourse on education shows that sinceindependence, the education system has undergone a series of changes and restructuringaimed at enhancing social, economic and political development. Economic growth andpolitics have played a central role in determining the direction of education.At independence, the Kenya government was faced with two major problemswhich education was assigned the responsibility of solving. The first and more immediate115was the need to provide competent Kenyans who could take over from the departingcolonial administrators. The second and more challenging was the long-term problem ofdevising a system of education which would address itself to the complex political, socialand economic needs of an emergent nation (Wanjigi, 1982).At independence, education was called upon to enhance the rights of all citizensunhindered by the consideration of race, tribe and religion. It was to provide the Africanswith high level skills and access to professions and senior positions in banking, industryand into all significant activities of the modem world which had been beyond the reach ofAfricans before independence (Ominde, 1964). Important at this period was the racialfactor. The African/race variable, therefore assumed a “genderless” Kenya whereopportunities had supposedly previously been limited by race only.The Ominde Report (1964) also recommended provision of free basic educationfor all. At this historical point, education was perceived as a right of every Kenyan. Thisview of education changed in subsequent policy documents. For example, the SessionalPaper #10 (1965) noted that education was more of an economic than a social service. Itnoted that economic growth was the guiding principle upon which all policies inindependent Kenya would be made and implemented. The Paper warned that freeeducation could not be provided at the expense of economic growth. The 1974-78Development Plan went further and pointed out that education was not a right but aprivilege and a scarce item. It recommended the implementation of the cost-sharingstrategy to reduce government spending on education. From this time henceforth,Kenyans were compelled to take more responsibility for educating themselves.116Subsequent policy documents such as the Kamunge Report (1988) and the NdegwaReport (1991) recommended increased cost-sharing where parents would have to meetover 80% of the cost of education. These policy changes attempted to devise a system ofeducation capable of addressing itself to the changing social, economic and political needsof the country at specific historical points. Other educational policy changes haveincluded shifts from emphasis on (a) academic education to vocational education, (b)employment to self-employment, and (c) urban to rural development.The Ominde Report (1964) inherently emphasized academic education for whitecollar jobs in the formal employment sector. A decade later, the 1974-78 DevelopmentPlan noted that the formal sector could no longer absorb all the school leavers. Thecountry was faced with poor economic growth, high unemployment rate and rural-urbanmigration problems which were linked to the academic system of education (WanjigiReport, 1982). This led to the recommendation of restructuring of the entire educationsystem from 7-4-2-3 to 8-4-4 with each level being terminal. The new system ofeducation was to emphasize vocationalization of school subjects to offer graduates atevery level skills for self-employment and for rural development (Mackay Report, 1981,Wanjigi Report, 1983, Kamunge Report, 1988, and Ndegwa Report, 1991).Also, an examination of the policy discourse articulated in the policy documentsshows variations in conceptualization of women’s role in national development. Somepolicy documents paid substantial attention to gender issues and women’s role in nationaldevelopment while others did not raise gender issues. Introduction of gender issues in thepolicy discourse was influenced by the focus of the policy document and other factors117including the prevailing development discourse orchestrated by development agencies andthe gender representation in the committees and work parties. Important to this study isthe nature ofgender issues that were raised and how they were framed. Some documentsemphasized the role of women as economic and political agents in the public sphere. Theyemphasized the need for women to have equal access to higher education and scientificskills to participate in the formal sector. Others emphasized women’s reproductive andproductive roles in the private sphere and recommended that women be offered basiceducation and nonformal education that enhanced their delivery of these services.At independence, the education of women lagged behind that of men since formaleducation was introduced by Christian Missionaries and developed by the colonialadministrators along gender and racial lines. The Ominde Report (1964), althoughfocusing on race issues, recommended girls only secondary schools but rejected appealsfor girls only boarding primary schools. The Gachathi Report (1976), however, paid asubstantial attention to gender issues. The Gachathi Report noted that although womenconstituted over 50% of the human resource required for national development theireducation lagged behind that of men. The Report recommended policies that would notonly increase women’s participation in higher education but also in scientific and othertraditionally male dominated areas. The Gachathi Report conceptualized women aseconomic agents in the public sphere . The Report recommended policies that wouldensure that women become active participants in all levels of the formal sector.The Gachathi Report policy outcomes could have been influenced by the UnitedNations Declaration of 1975-85 as the women’s decade and the participation in the118committee of Joan Waithaka, who was the Principal of Alliance Girls High School, thefirst African girls’ high school in Kenya. This school has established its reputation as acentre of academic excellence. Kardam (1991) argues that individual actors can effectchange.The 1989-93 Development Plan and Ndegwa Report (1991) conceded that womenwere under-represented in the formal employment sector and specifically in positions ofpower. The 1989-93 development plan blamed the under-representation ofwomen in theformal employment sector and specifically in positions of power on prevailingunfavourable social attitudes linked to “colonial subjugation and its attendant Victorianattitudes toward women both as workers and partners in life” (p. 28). While colonialismhas had its negative impact on women’s economic and political power, pre-capitalists’gendered assumptions continue to be used to deny women social, economic and politicalopportunities in post colonial Kenya. The Ndegwa Report (1991), however, called uponthe government to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofDiscrimination Against Women. In addition, the Report called for a deliberate policy tobe put in place to increase the number of women in key positions both in private andpublic sector. Implementation and enforcement of these policies would have significantchanges in the modern sector and in the general Kenya society.Beginning in the late 1970s, policy makers began to focus on rural areas as sites ofdevelopment. Even though women constitute over 70% of the rural population, the focuson rural areas was not based on the women’s needs. The focus on the rural areas becamenecessary because the country was faced with poor economic growth, unemployment and119rural-urban migration of predominantly male job seekers. Thus, the Gachathi Report(1976) recommended policies to improve living conditions in the rural areas and makethem attractive to live in. The Gachathi Report linked rural poverty with lack ofknowledge, skills and resources. The Report recommended the improvement of thepattern of distribution of incomes and pricing structures in the rural areas as a way toreduce the rural-urban migration. The push to improve living conditions in rural areasbecame necessary when rural-urban migration of jobseekers, who were mostly men,became a national problem as they could not be absorbed in the formal employmentsector. Wanjigi Report (1982) and Ndegwa Report (1991) focused on ruralwomen’s productive roles. The Ndegwa Report (1991) “praised” women for thelaborious unpaid domestic work they perform as mothers and wives. They definedwomen’s work to include food production, petty trading, childrearing, care of the sick, theaged and a multiplicity of other activities that women have to undertake to sustain theirfamilies’ welfare. Wanjigi Report (1982) argued that women’s labour in the privatesphere contributed substantially to the economic development of the nation, and it shouldbe classified as “economic” rather than as “non-economic” as it had been previouslydefined.The Ndegwa Report (1991) and the 1989-93 Development Plans commendedwomen’s reproductive labour and its contribution to national development. The NdegwaReport argued that the country’s labour force depend on women’s performance asmothers, custodians of family, health and welfare, especially that of young children. TheGachathi Report (1976) recommended that women’s basic education and skills be120supplemented with lifelong and effective nonformal education since women were“biologically responsible for bearing and rearing children”( p. 47, emphasis added).However, women’s sexuality was inherently blamed for the high rate of population growthwhich was identified as a factor contributing to the low economic growth experienced inKenya. The Ndegwa Report (1991) recommended that women be given basic educationas a way of controlling family size since there was evidence that the willingness to usecontraceptives increased with education. The implication of these recommendations isthat rural families and in particular women have become the target of family planningprogrammes. The policy recommendations on population growth, women’s participationin education, economy, particularly in the in the informal sector were in line withdevelopment agencies’ policies on development in third world countries. While the policydiscourse articulated women’s reproductive and productive roles, particularly in theprivate sphere, the policy discourse did not underscore the gender-related factors thathave limited the women’s agency in both private and public spheres ofKenyan society.121Table 2 Policy Reports: SummaryName Year Overall Purpose -- Treatment of GenderOminde Report 1964 Review of existing system of education and Recommended girls only secondaryadvised the government on the formulation schools.and implementation of new national policies Rejected appeals for girls only boardingfor education, primary schools.Sessional Paper 1965 Elaborate on the principles of a democratic No discussion on gender issues#10 African Socialist State as per KANUManifesto declaration.Economic growth as the guiding principleupon which all policies in independentKenya would be made and implemented.1974-78 1974 Planning for enhancement of national No discussion on gender issuesDevelopment development within the context of internalPlan and external crisis.Cost-sharing introduced.Gachathi Report 1976 Examination of the impact of education on Substantial attention to women’sthe economy with a mandate of providing educationnew directions for education to stimulate Reconunended policies to address gendereconomic growth. imbalances and increase women’seducational and economic opportunities.Mackay Report 1981 Review higher education system in relation No discussion on gender issuesto rural Development.Restructuring of the education system from7-4-2-3 to 8-4-4. Each level would beterminal.Wanjigi Report 1982 Examination of the unemployment problem Addressed women’s economic activitieswith respect to the formal and informal both in the urban and in rural contexts.sectors in both rural and urban contexts. Recommended introduction of sexeducation in schools.Kanaunge Report 1988 Recommend ways in which education and No discussion on gendertraining may offer the youth skills that leadto self-reliance and self-employment.Work out a cost-sharing plan for financingeducation and training.1989-93 1989 Pioneered incorporation of the structural Commended women’s economic activitiesDevelopment adjustment process. growth particularly those women living inPlan It provided policy guidelines to enhance the rural areas.economic growth, to address the problem of Reiterated government’s commitment tounemployment and population growth. the provision of equal educationalopportunities to both boys and girls.Low status of women in the formalemployment sector was associated withcolonialismNdegwa Report 1991 A committee appointed to map out strategies Commended women’s economic activitiesto deal with the increasing unemployment, in the formal and informal sectors.rural-urban migration and population Recommended policies to enhancegrowth. women’s reproductive and productiveroles.122Chapter 5KILOME WOMEN’S EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCESIn this chapter I examine Kilome women’s own educational experiences and thoseof their daughters. The discussions with the women about their experiences of educationshow that their fathers, who controlled and allocated economic resources in their families,favoured the education of boys rather than that of girls. The women’s stories reveal thatsome fathers did not invest in the education of girls because they did not considereducation of women important. These fathers could afford to educate all their childrenand chose to educate only their sons. For other women, their fathers’ choice of who wasto be educated became necessary when they were faced with the lack of economicresources. At these times, fathers chose to invest in the education of their sons forcultural reasons. The women were forced to leave school and eventually get married tohave their “own homes.” Marriage seemed to be the only option available to them.First, I discuss the colonial legacy of education in Kenya. Present-day genderinequities in formal education can be traced to the colonial policies on education in whichformal education was developed along gender and racial lines. Next, I discuss thewomen’s experiences of education. The women’s experiences show that gender was usedas a criterion in the provision of educational opportunities. Consequently the women weredenied educational opportunities equal to those of their male counterparts. Lastly, Ipresent the educational experiences of the daughters of these women. The girls’experiences as told by their mothers and also by some of the girls. These experiences give123a glimpse of the gender factors that continue to limit girls’ access to educationalopportunities in contemporary Kenya. Presented last are the conclusions on women’sown experiences of education and those of their daughters showing that women in Kenyado not enjoy educational opportunities equal to those of their male counterparts. Mothersin contemporary Kenya, however, are aware of the importance of women’s education andthey have become intervention agents for their daughters education unlike mothers of theprevious generation.Colonial BackgroundTraditionally, gender divisions of labour were relatively clear. Men cleared theland and prepared it for planting, looked after cattle, went hunting and fought in tribalwars. Women concentrated on household chores, cultivated the plots that men cleared,planted and harvested food crops (Sifiina, 1990). Women, also, “were full participants inthe economy beyond the household and played significant roles in the political decision-making process” (Staudt, 1987, p. 189). Women had more equitable access to resourcesthan they did under colonialism, and parallel female and male authority structures oftenhelped to protect women’s interests.The coming of the Europeans and the onset of colonialism dismantled precapitalistgender roles. Men were given a semi-formal education to prepare them for work insettlers’ farms and in the lowest echelons of the colonial administration. On the otherhand, women were left in the rural areas in charge of all the household work. Men wereprepared for entry into the world of paid work while women were left in the villages toprovide unpaid work to subsidize men’s poor wages.124Colonial policies were detrimental; they discriminated systematically againstwomen in limiting access to such new critical resources as Western education and wagelabour (Robertson, 1986; Stamp, 1989). Attempts by women to participate in the formalemployment sectors, particularly in the urban centres, were not encouraged by the colonialadministration. In addition, Obbo (1980) argues that “lovers and husbands positivelyresented the employment of women because it brought them in contact with other menand afforded them some degree of economic independence” (p. 10). The consequence ofthis has been the translation of precolonial gender divisions of labour into relations ofdomination and exploitation of women (Freeman, 1988). The colonial legacy of women’sexclusion from formal education and employment sector has continued in independentKenya.Kilome women who participated in this study attest to the continued preferentialtreatment ofboys in being accorded educational opportunities. The women’s discourse oneducation show that cultural beliefs about femininity limited the women’s formaleducational opportunities. This became evident in our discussions on the education ofwomen. The women talked to me about their views of girls’ education, whether it isnecessary to educate girls and to what level. Then I brought the issue of women’seducation closer to them by talking about the education of their own children and inparticular their daughters. We discussed the constraints and possibilities they face in theirattempt to afford their children educational opportunities and how these experiences arerelated to their past educational experiences and their access to economic opportunities.Finally, we talked about the women’s formal education, exploring what shaped their125experiences and why. I present the women’s own experiences of education in thefollowing section.Women’s Own Experiences of EducationA preference for sons in according educational opportunities is one factor thatforced some Kilome women to leave school. This gender divide in the provision ofeducational opportunities is centred around the cultural assumptions and meaningsassociated with being male or female as defined and shaped in precolonial, colonial andpost-colonial Kenya. The interplay between the cultural definitions of women, inparticular the belief that girls will get married and leave their family and the fact thatparents have to invest in their children’s education, has limited girls’ educationalopportunities. Girls are viewed as temporary members of the family and potentialmothers capable of “terminating” their schooling to pick up their more “significant” rolesof being mothers and/or wives.Several women from all the sites, Kyandue, Kithumba and Salama, noted that theyhad to leave school because their parents, particularly fathers, did not believe in educatingwomen. Among these women were Ngina, Mwilcali, Meli and Janet from Kyanduevillage. Ngina’s father, however, paid school fees for his sons until they decided to leaveschool. (In this study I use MN to denote the voice of the researcher and the first twoletters of the women’s pseudonyms. I also use two effipsis points to indicate a pause).Ng: I left school in standard three because there was no school fees for me. Therewas no money to educate me and they (parents) did not know the usefulness ofeducating woman like me and I believe if they knew how useful education is, theywould have struggled to educate me.MN: Did you have brothers and did they get an education?126Ng: Yes. I have three elder brothers. The boys continued with their schooling andleft school in Standard 6 voluntarily to go and work.MN: So there was no money when it came to investing in the girls’ education?Ng: Yes it becomes harder to educate girls but for a boy, it seems as though themoney to pay for their education somehow is made available.MN: Do you have sisters?Ng: I have two elder sisters and the eldest got married long time ago. They neverreceived any formal schooling. They were given traditional education--their teethwere carved and they learnt how to dance traditional dances (kwina wathi).. that’sall they got (Interview, July 1994).Ngina feels that her parents were not aware of the importance of women’s formaleducation. They expected her to do all the female-related chores performed by grownwomen. Ngina’s parents prepared her for female roles in the private sphere as a motherand wife to be a childrearer, food producer, caregiver and to provide all other labourrequired to sustain the household. She was not prepared to take up a major role inproviding the resources required to afford her children educational opportunities.Ng: The two last years that I went to school I did it (paid school fees) by myself..just trying to keep myself in school against all odds (kwisukumiiia).MN: And you were very young to do the things you were doing to earn money?Ng: Yes, I was but I used to thrash sisal every Saturday. That was nothingcompared to the work I used to do in the plot.MN: What work did you do at home after school?Ng: I had lots ofwork to do. I used to look after the cows, fetch water, dig, andplant when it rained. So I was asked to perform most of the roles that a grownwoman performed and also the work that my brothers should have been doing butthey were not at home to do their work. So, I feel that my parents did notencourage me to get an education. My parents just wanted me to concentrate onwhat women do, not to go to school but work in the shamba [plot], collectfirewood, fetch water, grind millet, cook and a whole lot of things.MN: Why?Ng: Because our parents were not educated. I think if they had been educatedthey would have been different. I think they used to believe that., when a girl wasborn everybody expected her to get married since she is a “woman” (InterviewJuly 1994).127Women who do not get married and have children outside wedlock are considered badrole models. Many mothers, like Ngina’s mother, still teach their daughters domesticskills in preparation for their “own” homes.Mcli, too, left school after one year of formal education in the mid 1960’s. Herfather chose to educate her brother instead of her. Meli, who is about 45 years of age,enrolled in primary school when she was already a matured girl. She left school andstayed at home helping her mother with household chores and later got married. She hasseven children, four girls and three boys. She points out that, “I only went to standard 1and my father did not want to educate my sisters and me. He was a drunkard.. He onlyeducated our last born brother who is a teacher now” (Interview July 1994).Thirty three-year old Janet, a mother of five, was asked to leave schooltemporarily after nine years of formal education (Form 2)1 to ease her father’s burden ofpaying school fees for four children in the secondary school level. She was the only oneasked to leave school, her three brothers continued with their education. Janet never wentback to school. Getting married was the only option that Janet felt was open to her.Ja: When I was in Form 2 at the same time I had three brothers in Forms 4, 3 and 1and my father was carrying a big burden and I was told to stay at home for sometime and I will be taken to school later. I sat2 at home and I never went to school.All my brothers, even the little one who was in form 1 when I was in form 2, wentup to form 4 while I was still at home. I stayed home for three years and I decidedto have my own home (get married).MN: Why did you choose to get married?Ja: What else could I do, I had sat at home for 3 years and they didn’t seem towant to take me back to school. They did not mention anything to do with myschooling for all those three years I sat at home. Although I think my father reallywanted to see his children educated he drinks too much to care (laughs).MN: But he didn’t buy alcohol with his sons’ school fees!191 education system in Kenya is divided into primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education.Primary level starts from Standard 1-8 and Secondary from Form 1-4.2Janet helped her mother with all the household work, although she notes that she “sat at home.”128Ja: Actually he seemed to really want to educate the boys but not us girls becausemy elder sister had to leave school in form 3 because of school fees. She later gotmarried (Interview, July 1994).Kithumba women too pointed out that their educational opportunities were limitedby their parents’ preferential treatment of their brothers in according educationalopportunities. These women, Manduu, Mumo, Katunge and Maria. Mumo and Manduuare the oldest women who participated in this study. For the two older women, theirparents and fathers in particular, did not believe in the education of women. Mumo andManduu point out that in the late 1930s and 1940s when they were going to school, mostparents did not value women’s education. Parents feared that education would “spoil”their daughters since they would leave the village to go the city to look for paid work.Mumo points out that in the late 1930s, those parents who allowed their daughters to goto school only gave them enough education to be able to read and write letters to theirmigrant husbands.MN: How long did you stay in school?Mu: I stayed in school for only four years and then I was supposed to go tointermediate school and my father told me that I could not go to the intermediateschool which was at Mbooni about 50 kilometres from here. For them, that wastoo far. He told me that I had already had enough education since I could read andwrite.MN: What about your brothers? Did they go on with school?Mu: Oh yes. My brothers remained in school but only one of them was very goodin school. He became an electrical engineer with Power and Lighting. Us girls wewere very good in school, my younger sister, especially, was very good. She hadsuch a good brain but she too had to leave school after Standard 4 because myfather said that was enough for her. She later got married and died (Interview,June 1994).Manduu who is about 52 years old was discouraged from continuing with formaleducation by her parents. She was withdrawn from school to stay at home and help her129mother with domestic chores as she awaited a suitor. Her brothers were encouraged to goon with formal education with the father paying the small amount of fees that was requiredat that time. Manduu observes that:Ma: I only had one year of schooling and I left school. I had a very goodmind because within one year I learnt how to read and write in Kikambaand now I know how to read Swahili. I had to leave school and after ashort time I got married3. My brothers did not have to leave school as Idid. They went up to Standard 6 (grade 6) of those days and were able tolook for work in the city. For them it was O.K. but all this is becauseparents those days did not know the importance of a woman’s education aswe know today. Parents those days believed that girls who got educatedgot spoilt because they would go to the cities to look for employment likemen. They believed that their daughter will become a prostitute.. she wouldbe out of sight and beyond her parents’ control. And when she decided toget married, she would marry a stranger. Parents of those days wantedtheir daughters to be married to their ffiends’ sons who would paybridewealth (Interview, July 1994).Mwelu, who is about 40 years old and a mother of seven, had four years ofeducation. She spent these four years in school with her mother’s support but against herfather’s wish. Her mother looked after the cattle, a task assigned to Mwelu since herbrothers had entered formal schooling. Mwelu stayed in school for as long as themother could afford to pay her fees. Mwelu left school at the beginning of theintermediate level (grade 5) when her mother could no longer afford to pay her fees.Mwelu had the following to say:I went to school when I was a big girl and I left four years later. My going toschool was like a mistake because my father never used to educate girls and hehad said that he would never educate girls. Up to that level, I was educated by mymother. I was supposed to look after the cattle because in my family, girls werethe ones who looked after the cattle. I was the first of the girls to get some formaleducation. In my mother’s house, I am the only girl who knows how to read andwrite (kwiyiandikia) and we are a family of five girls and two boys. The othersnever went to school. I went to school as though I was hiding (niilye oouu ta31n those days, girls would start schooling when they were mature. The aim was to help them to be able toread and write letters written to her by her husband.130niivithite). My father harassed my mother a lot because of letting me go to schooland looking after the cows when I was at school (Interview, July 7, 1994,emphasis added).Traditionally, among the Kamba people, boys looked after the livestock. However, withthe introduction of formal education along gender lines, more boys enrolled in schools andthese traditional tasks were assumed by girls and women thereby increasing their totalworkload.Mwelu’s brothers were given the opportunity to get formal education to the levelsthey desired. They have been able to get paid employment and in turn support theirfamilies and educate their children.MN: Were the boys educated?Mw: Yes. The boys were educated. They got the education that was available atthat time. One went up to Standard 8 of those days and he got a teaching job andtoday he supports his family and himself with his education and the other one gotup to Standard 6 of those days and he refused to go on with education and he waslucky. Even today he still gets jobs in offices with that level of education(Interview, July 1994).Mwelu’s opportunities to enter into paid employment were significantly limited byher lack of educational opportunities. Nevertheless, Mwelu needs to earn money to feed,cloth and educate her children. The survival of her family is dependent on her ability tocreate income opportunities for herself since her husband has a limited income and is aheavy drinker.Maria, the most educated rural woman that I interviewed, had 13 years of formaleducation. Maria was educated by her mother. Her father made it clear to her that hewould not invest in her education but was prepared to educate his sons. Maria’s father,131however, paid the sons’ school fees until her mother objected to his marriage to a secondwife.My mother paid my school fees because my father said that he would not or nevereducate girls. That’s how I got an education. But in 1981 my father stoppedpaying school fees for my brothers because he disagreed with my mother. Mymother had to go to work in a coffee plantation (150 kilometres away) in order topay my brothers’ and my school fees. I am the only one who got advanced leveleducation in my family (Interview, July 1994).Nduki, Mbeti and Kambua from Salama town left school after sitting for theirsecondary school entry examinations because their fathers refused to pay their secondarylevel school fees. The three women’s fathers denied their daughters education not becausethey had not seen evidence of the importance of women’s education or because of thescarcity of resources, but because the fathers did not value the education of womensufficiently to invest in it. Unlike in the 1930’s in the case of Mumo and in the 1950’s forManduu when most parents thought education would have a negative impact on women,Nduki and Mbeti left school in the 1970s and Kambua in the early 1990s. They stayed athome helping their mothers with household work until they left home to look for paidemployment in Salama and to get married.Nduki and Mbeti, now both about 35 years old, had seven years of primary educationin the previous 7-4-2-3 system of education and Kambua aged 19 had eight years of primaryeducation in the current 8-4-4 system of education. All three women note that they left schoolbecause their fathers simply refused to pay their school fees. These women’s mothers had noresources with which to pay for the education of their daughters. This is illustrated by thewomen’s stories below. Nduki separated from her husband about ten years ago. She has builta house for her two sons and herself in her father’s compound.132Nd: I was born in 1958 and I left school in 1972 after Standard 7. After this Iwent to work as a house girl.MN: Why didn’t you go to form 1?Nd: When I finished Standard 7, my father brought a lot of problems saying thathe will not educate girls, and you know old men from our place, sometimes theyare advised by other men not to educate their daughters, and so he refused toeducate me.MN: Are you the first born?Nd: Yes, and so when he refused to educate me I stayed at home for a short timeand I went to work as a house girl.MN: Where did he tell you to go or do?Nd: Where(Va mwa)! Do you know all my younger sisters have had to leaveschool at Standard 8? Yes. The last born went up to Standard 8 and he (father)said that he will not pay her school fees.MN: Even today he is still refusing to educate his daughters?Nd: Yes. He has refused to pay school fees for us girls.MN: What about the boys?Nd: Those ones he tried, all of them went up to Form 4 (12 years of formaleducation).MN: So when you girls get to the end of the primary level, where does he tell youto go?Nd: When he told me that he was not going to educate me, I was really confusedand I saw that there wasn’t any other life for me. My mother too was so muchunder his control, she had no voice and she couldn’t say anything. My mother isone of those women who cannot discuss anything with her husband. In the firstplace my father is a very harsh man and even when my mother suggests anything tohim, he doesn’t listen to her. Anyway, I stayed there (home) for a short time andI went to work as a house girl. I worked for a short time.. do you know I wasvery young I couldn’t really reason out properly and I got married because Ididn’t know what to do, I was very young, just 15 years. I was not of age and Ihad not planned to get married but I got married anyway but our marriage did notlast very long. He neglected us (my son and me) and so I had to get help from myparents’ house (Interview, September 1994).Mbeti tells a similar story of her father’s refusal to educate her.Mb: I went to school and left in Standard 7 not because my father couldn’t affordto educate us but he just did not want to educate girls and that has always shockedme. My mother couldn’t manage to pay my fees as there was also another girl inschool. So I left school and I sat at home for a long time and I saw the number ofproblems just increase beyond what we could bear. My father was not supportingus, neither was he supporting my mother and so I decided to go and work and helpmy mother and I left to come and work for her [mother]. I have educated thosewho were behind me (younger).MN: To what level?133Mb: Some went up to Form 4.MN: How were you doing it?Mb: I saved money and took some dressmaking courses. I continued to work veryhard after this and I am now self.employed. I have rented a sewing machine andI am a seamstress and that is how I earn the money to support my mother, brothersand sisters (Interview, July 1994).Mbeti is single and has no children of her own. She has worked very hard to give hersiblings the educational opportunities that she was denied by her father. She left home andwent to look for work to assist her mother to educate her siblings. Mbeti’s mother couldnot leave her home to go and work outside the home because she is responsible for theday-to-day running of the household. Her mother is responsible for all household chores,child rearing, caring for the sick and old, food production, raising animals-a multitude ofresponsibilities that demand her fill-time attention. These responsibilities limit a woman’sparticipation in the income-earning activities outside the home.Kambua, too, had to leave school to work at Salama, about 40 kilometres awayfrom home as a barmaid because her father, the only income earner in her family, wouldn’tpay her school fees. She received eight years of formal education and wanted to getsecondary education like her brothers. However, Kambua was asked by her father andelder brother to repeat Standard 7 even though she had passed Standard 8 and had beenadmitted into a local secondary school. Kambua’s father, who holds a well paying jobwith a government corporation, had chosen to invest in the education of his sons.Kambua’s mother could not intervene for her.Ka: I went up to Standard 8, I finished and I passed. My father told me that hewould take me to secondary school, I stayed at home for three months (a fullterm) and then they told me to repeat Standard 7 not even Standard 8 can youimagine! I thought this was impossible and so I came here and got a job andstarted working. I started working last year in May (1993) when I realized thatthey were not going to take me to school.134MN: What did they say about your coming to work as a bar maid?Ka: I left home without telling them where I was going, I just left home and camehere and worked for four months and then I went home, that was in August and Itold them that I no longer wanted to go school (Interview, September 1994).Kambua’s brothers, even those who did not pass their secondary entry examinations, weregiven secondary education in harambee4schools.MN: Why didn’t they take you to school?Ka: I really don’t know. You cannot imagine that all my older brothers were takento school and some of them had not passed their secondary entry examinations. Atleast, I had tried very much and I had been called to a secondary school! So I didnot see why they wanted me to repeat, I thought my father and brothers weretreating me disrespectively and so I said that God will help me even if I am deniedan education. Of all my brothers, only one of them did well in his secondary entryexaminations and was called to a government maintained school. The rest, myfather has had to find them secondary schools but for me.. no (Interview,September 1994).The stories of these women reveal patriarchal control over women’s education.Lack of educational opportunities has left these women with very few economicopportunities. For instance, Kambua works as a barmaid. This is ajob that she neverthought she would be doing but picked it out of desperation. When Kambua was inschool, she hoped to complete her secondary level of schooling and train as a nurse or ateacher. These professions require at least 12 years of formal education with good passesin mathematics and a science subject, biology or chemistry. Kambua’s story belowillustrates her dilemma.Ka: I took this job because it was the only job that I could find. I was desperateand I needed money. It was hard to accept to work as a bar maid., you know it isnot a good job, it is bad because sometimes our patrons say horrible things to us.They call us men “trappers.” The women who live and work here in Salama arenot good either, those women who are not working as bar maids feel that they aredoing better jobs than us.. like those who have small business. They too call usprostitutes. The men too are bad. When they see you there in the bar they think4Harambee schools are schools that have been built by the local community. Government’s assistance tothese schools in minimum. This has a negative impact to the quality of instruction..135that you are there for them (prostitutes). They don’t respect us at all, they call usprostitutes.. I just persevere these insults because I know that I am not a prostituteand this is not what I really wanted to do.MN: What did you plan to do ifyou had gone on with education?Ka: I wanted to train as a teacher or a nurse after my fourth Form. I thought itwas nice for me to become a nurse or a teacher. I had no intentions of leavingschool but you see what hurt me is that they wanted me to repeat Standard 7 noteven 8 in another primary school that is so far from my home. I thought that wasbeing cruel. They had no reason to ask me to repeat (Interview, September 1994).Even though Kambua aspired to become a nurse or a teacher, training opportunities arelimited by qualifications and space. Kambua’s chances of ever being considered forteaching or nursing were reduced to nothing when she was denied secondary leveleducation. Nevertheless, Kambua hopes to quit working as a barmaid to get married andhave her “own home.”Kambua’s mother was not in a position to speak for her daughter. Her son’s viewson the thture ofKambua were more valued by her husband--a very traditional view wherewomen are considered inferior to the male children.MN: Was your mother among them in making the decision not to educate you?Ka: Now with my mother not working. .her work is just to stay with us she had nopower to speak on this issue. My father is the one who works and decides howthe money is to be used. He works with Kenya Power and Lighting.MN: Your father has a regular job?Ka: Oh yes. He has a very good job and he is well paid but his money has no effecton my life. I will never want to know the useflulness of his money. I have my ownhands, I will try to work with them.MN: Who helped your father make the decision not to educate you?Ka: My eldest brother. He is the one who suggested that I should repeat insteadof going to Form 1 and my father agreed with him (Interview, September 1994).Educational Experiences of women’s daughtersRecent statistics on education show that the enrolment rates of girls in Kenya,particularly at the primary level, are approaching parity with those of boys. In 1991, girls136constituted 48.7 percent of the total enrolment, a gender ratio that has remained constantsince 1989. However, a large number of girls who enrol in Standard i drop out of schoolbefore they reach Standard 8, the last year of this level. For example, of the 864,593pupils who enrolled in Standard One in 1984, 58.4 % of the girls and 53.6% of the boysleft school before completing Standard 8 in 1991 (UNICEF/GOK: Women and Children,Situation Analysis, 1992; Economic Survey, 1992). The high drop out rates among girlsare indicative of the existence of gender-related barriers that steer more girls than boys outof the education system.From the women’s stories, it becomes clear that gender has continued to be usedas a criterion for provision of educational opportunities. Men and fathers, particularly inthe case of these women, have the economic power from employment or inheritance(property, land) and make decisions on who is to be educated. Their decisions areinfluenced by (a) gendered cultural assumptions, (b) competition for scarce resources, and(c) perceived value ofwomen’s education.Janet notes that most men do not appreciate the value of women’s education in themodern environment. She is concerned about her daughter who is in Standard 6 and willbe sifting for the secondary entry examinations in two years. Janet’s husband, a primaryschool teacher, has already indicated that their daughter will not receive secondary leveleducation but she will receive vocational6training in a village polytechnic after Standard 8.Although vocational skills such as dressmaking, masonry, tailoring, brick making aretaught in these village polytechnics, Janet feels that her daughter’s employment and5Tobe admittedto Standard 1 achildmu be at least sixyears old.6The vocational training offered in village polytechnics is rudimentary and offers very limited incomegenerating opportunities.137income opportunities will be limited if she leaves formal education in Standard 8. Shedoes not want her daughter to leave school at that level. Janet has no paid employment,but she is working out ways of accumulating finances to afford her daughter secondarylevel education.Ja: I really don’t understand the way men are. You know how they can be.. youcan’t really tell what he is up to and I have been trying to stress to him (husband)the importance of giving our daughter a chance to go to secondary school but hedoesn’t want to listen to me. So I decided to plant a lot of French beans and soldthem and saved all the money secretly (ngilitye ki). I then used this money to starta small business. I sell maize (corn) meal in a Kiosk. I am working very hard formy daughter’s sake otherwise she will not see the inside of a secondary schoolbecause my husband does not want to pay for her secondary education. It is hardto understand why he is refusing to educate her but I will do my best. I don’t wantmy daughter to go through what I went through (Interview, July 1994).Janet, however, needs more than finances to provide her daughter the education that shedeems meaningful. Janet might be forced to make a choice between disobeying herhusband and educating her daughter which might threaten her marriage. Nevertheless, forthe time being, Janet is working hard to save money to accord her daughter educationalopportunities denied her by her father for being a woman.Twenty eight year old Kavuli from Kyandue village, too, is concerned about herdaughters’ education. She has four children, all of them girls, and feels that the husband isnot concerned about their education. At the time of this interview, two of her school-ageddaughters were still at home because her husband had not bought them the required classtextbooks.MN: How many children do you have?Ka: I have four children and all of them are girls.MN: Are they in school?Ka: Right now they are not going to school. I really cannot explain to you thereason why they are not in school because it is so hard to understand. You see,138the girls were sent home because they did not have the textbook required in theirclass. This was almost four months ago and they are still at home.MN: Why haven’t you tried to get them the textbooks? Aren’t you delaying them alot?Ka: I don’t know how to answer that question because I just don’t understandwhat their father wants to do with them. These girls are missing a lot. One isseven and the other one is eight years old and it is not like that this man is notworking. He works for another woman as a casual labourer, it’s not that hedoesn’t have the money, he just does not seem to want to take these girls toschool. Every time I ask him about when the girls will go back to school he tellsme not to worry and that he is going to see their teacher. When I push him to letme go to talk to the teachers he gets angry. It is very hard to live with such aperson.MN: Do you think he is not interested in their education?Ka: I really do not know. It could be because he does not want to put his moneyin the education of girls.. I really can’t tell.MN: What are you doing about it?Ka: I don’t have money to buy these books right now because he has stopped mefrom braiding hair and that is where I was getting my own money to do my ownthings. Right now, I am waiting for my turn to get my credit from the women’sself-help group that I am a member and I will insist on buying these books forthem. If he refuses, I will have to take other measures (hatua) to ensure that mychildren get educated (Interview, August 1994).Ndele tells of how her husband never prepared to give their daughter secondarylevel education. Without Ndele’s initiatives, her daughter would not have sat for heruniversity entry examinations in December 1994.Nd: I started making traditional baskets when I took my daughter to secondaryschool. When she entered Form 1 had a lot of problems (thina mwingi muno). Iused to be told by teachers that my daughter is very good in class and therefore Ishould look for money to take her to secondary school. They knew that she wouldpass her secondary entry examinations. When I would tell my daughter’s fatherwhat the teachers were saying about her, he would tell me not to panic, he willeducate her. I advised him to start saving with the Post Office because I have beentold that the child is good at school. He would assure me that there will be noproblem when the time comes. The problem came when my daughter did herexaminations to go to secondary school the father lost his job, this was about fouryears since I had started asking him to save money to educate her. So I startedwondering what to do with this child, the father is not working and she was calledto Kasikeu secondary school. I wondered what to do because I did not have anymoney and the father had saved nothing.MN: He hadn’t saved anything?139Nd: No. He hadn’t saved anything not even a cent! . . . I felt very poor in myheart and I wondered what this child will do being the first born and a girl and I didnot want her to get married as I did. Then I just put a lot of effort and tried thebest I could to get her to school. This is about four years ago and surely he doesnot know how I manage to pay her school fees. I don’t even know what he isdoing in Namanga (border of Kenya and Tanzania). Can you imagine what wouldhave happened to my daughter? (Interview, July 3, 1994)The interviews with the high school girls attest to the crucial role that mothers areplaying in the education of their children. Ndele’s daughter noted that without hermother’s hard work, she would probably be working as a housegirl or even married.MN: What class are you in now?Ja: I am in Form Four. I will be sitting for my university entry examinations at theend of this year.MN: Who has been paying your school fees?Ja: My mother has been paying my fees. It has been very hard for her to pay myfees and to look after the family without much help from my father. She raisessome of my fees by fetching water for the school. She wakes up very early inmorning to go to the well to fetch the water. Also she makes baskets and sellsthem. That is how she manages to keep me in school.MN: Where is your father?Ja: I understand he is at Namanga. I don’t know what he is doing there but werarely see him and he sends nothing to us. I understand he might not be working.So, we just rely on our mother. Without her I would not have come this far and soI am working very hard to pass my university entrance examinations (Interview,June 1994).Women in Kilome division are concerned about men’s indifference towards theeducation of girls. They have realized that the education of their daughters depends on themothers’ ability to contribute the physical and material labour demands associated withschooling.ConclusionsThe women’s stories show that women in Kenya do not enjoy educationalopportunities equal to those of their male counterparts. Fathers who have continued to be140the principle “breadwinners” in the household control the allocation of resources and havetended to invest more in the education of their Sons than that of their daughters. Genderhas continued to play an important role in determining who is given time and resources toget educational skills and thus participate in economic roles in the public sphere.The women’s stories show that sons were provided with the resources that theyrequired to access educational opportunities, while the girls were forced to assume rolesthat were their brothers’ the precolonial context. The choice on who was to be educatedwas based on gendered cultural assumptions about femininity and masculinity. Girls wereseen as potential mothers with the major responsibility of childbearing and rearing. Thesons were seen as future heads of households, breadwinners and bearers of the familyname. The women left school and helped their mothers with the household chores andeventually decided to have their “own homes.” Getting married was the only viable optionfor most of these women. Two younger women, however, chose to find any availablepaid work to help their mothers. As Mama (1991) observes, gender is an importantcategory along which power, property, prestige and social regulation are organized,regulated, distributed and given meanings in a gender-stratified society. Nelly Stromquist(1987) also observes that cultural norms and division of labour within the home limitgirls’ educational opportunities, being defined primarily as future mothers. She furtherargues that these cultural norms are not challenged in schools, instead, they arereinforced.141Nevertheless, we see that in the present context, mothers are taking an active rolein the education of their children, and daughters in particular. They have become crucialintervention agents for their daughters in the provision of educational opportunities. AsCubbins (1991) observes, women’s economic power has a positive influence in theeducation ofboth girls and boys.142CHAPTER 6Factors Limiting Girls’ Educational OpportunitiesThis chapter deals with the factors that women identified as limiting girls’schooling in Kilome division, Kenya. The women’s discourse on education shows thatgendered cultural assumptions about femininity are invoked to deny women/girlseducational opportunities equal to those of their male counterparts in contemporaryKenya. They identified (a) traditional preference to educate sons, (b) the assumption thatgirls will get married, and (c) girls’ potential motherhood as the gendered culturalassumptions that limit girls’ schooling. The rising cost of education has exacerbatedgender inequities in the provision of educational opportunities in Kenya and has become amajor barrier to girls’ education. Pervasive poverty among many rural householdsdelineates the circumstances upon which decisions on whose education is worth investingin are made. The women’s articulation of the factors that impede girls’ educationalopportunities is matched by their determination to challenge these barriers and afford theirdaughters educational opportunities denied them by their fathers because of social, culturaland economic factors. I first discuss the high cost of education followed by adiscussion on son preference, girls’ marriage and girls’ potential motherhood. Next is adiscussion on responsibility for sex education. Finally, I discuss poverty in rural areas.143High Cost of EducationHigh cost of education, particularly at the secondaiy level, has become a majorlimitation to children’s and in particular girls’ educational opportunities in Kilome Division andin Kenya today. The government has reduced its spending on education as part of itsimplementation of the structural adjustment programs. Parents have to invest more in theeducation of their children through the cost-sharing strategy, and school fees have skyrocketed. Besides paying school fees, parents have to purchase textbooks, stationeiy,mattresses, bedding, cutleiy and many more items depending on the school. Previously, thegovernment provided most of these requirements. The financial demands have becomeunattainable for most families who rely on a single income or have no income at all. For a longtime, men have been the only income earners in a family. However, this study shows that thefinancial demands on each household are way above the incomes from most wageemployment. Consequently, women and mothers have had to engage in a multiplicity ofactivities to increase the family’s income to meet; and barely so, the financial needs of theirfamilies.Mulee, a mother of eight, points out that she has not been able to pay her daughters’fee balances and, therefore, these girls’ secondary level certificates are being held by theirrespective schools until she pays the 9,200 Kenya shillings (Ksh) they owe.Mu: All my children have had to struggle to get an education. Like now Minoowho left school in 1992 has not been able to get her Form 4 certificate because shehas a fee balance of Ksh. 1200 and Mueni had passed very well and went toKimangau girls and finished school but she will never see her certificate becauseshe owes the school 8000 Kenya shillings. I went to beg the principal just to lether do the examinations., she missed going to university with 4 points or 3 points.1‘B- is the cut off grade for entry into university. Missing university by 4 or 3 points means that heraverage lay 4 or 3 points below the cut off grade.144She is the last of the big girls. The boy was here today for half-term but at thesame time coming to collect his school fees balance (Interview, July 1994).Because of the high cost of schooling, more women are having to leave schoolwithout the necessary credentials and/or skills to participate in the economic activities inthe public sphere. As Wausi and Mutheu, two professional women who participated inthis study, point out, women’s education is worse off than it was ten years ago. With thedemand that parents invest more in the education of their children, families are makingchoices on who is to be educated. Poverty and gendered assumptions about women areinfluencing parents’, particularly fathers’, decisions on whose education, a boy’s or girl’s,is worth investing on. Girls are denied educational opportunities and some have been sentto work as child labourers to help feed their families or even educate their male siblings.As Wausi observes, the situation of women’s education is rather pathetic.Wa: It is a bad thing we are so poor, I think if there was more help from thegovernment in terms of facilities or education, like these days kids in school arenot supplied with any textbooks in schools. The only thing the government givesto school children is the free milk There are no textbooks, exercise books,pencils. In our time, much as we were poor, we were supplied with textbooks,exercise books and pencils. If you want to read a book today, you have to buy it.I think now, given the population has increased, I think there are fewer women inthe rural areas who are making it than there were those days. I think ten years agothere were more girls making it through the education system than today,particularly from Kilome.MN: Yes and you are not the first one to say that. It is not getting better..Wa: It is getting worse, there is a lot of poverty (Interview, September 1994).Mutheu concurred with Wausi that more girls are not getting education, particularly inthe rural areas, because of the structural adjustment policies through which thegovernment has reduced its spending on education. This strategy has forced parents toinvest heavily in their children’s education.145MN: What about school fees these days?Mu: These days school fees is an issue. Before, it wasn’t such a big issue. It wasmanageable but now when they get to Form 1 the money involved is quite a lot.These days a parent might be forced to decide who to take to school and who notto. I would say that these days, there is a very high possibility of parents doingthat. They are making choices and often they don’t favour girls. A few years ago,school fees was not an issue (Interview, September 1994).School fees became a big issue with the introduction of the cost-sharing strategy inthe early 1980s which meant less government spending on education and more parents’contribution to the education of their children. This strategy was imposed on Kenya bythe World Bank to help the government deal with its deficit which, the World Bankargued, expenditure on education contributed to substantially. There appears to be nodefinite amount as to how much parents are charged for the education of their children.Official figures of total costs of education show that the pre-primary level of school is theleast expensive costing 600 Kenya shillings year with the government contributing 2percent of that amount. The primary level of education costs Ksh.2, 100/= (70 CanadianDollars, I CDN= 30 Ksh) per year with the government contributing 44 percent of thatfigure and Ksh. 7,5001= per year for secondary level of education with the governmentcontributing 27 percent of that amount (Ndegwa Report, p. 172: Source: World Bank andGOK, Financial implications of programmatic changes in Kenya’s education system 1990-2000).Although the official costs of education seem affordable, the reality is that thetuition and non-tuition fees charged at all levels of education are higher than the officialfigures quoted. Parents with secondary level children indicate that fees in secondaryschools range from 9,000-20,000 Kenya Shillings per year ($ 300-700 pa) or more. These146fees are highest in the first year of secondary school, particularly for those students who,in addition to buying school uniforms, have to buy bedding, a charcoal/paraffin stove,utensils and other necessary boarding items depending on the school.The high school fees charged at the secondary level are quite unaffordable for mostparents. School fees have therefore become a banier to children’s access to educationalopportunities particularly at the secondary level. This situation has forced parents tomake choices on who is to be educated and in which school, a harambee day orgovernment-maintained boarding school. When parents have had to make a choicebetween investing in the education of a boy or a girl, the choice is clear.Traditional Preference to Educate BoysTraditionally in Kenya, sons have tended to be valued more than daughters. Evenin these modern times, most monogamous marriages have turned out to be polygymousones if the first wife has “failed” to bear a son. Son preference in Kenya can be observedright from the moment of birth (Eshiwani, 1983). This attitude seem to influence theeducational opportunities that are made available to boys and girls.Since the introduction and development of formal education in the twentiethcentury, women’s education has lagged behind that of their male counterparts becausegender was used by the missionaries, colonialists and the local indigenous people as acriterion for allocating educational and employment opportunities in Kenya. In the case ofthe women ofKilome, the excerpts of the women’s stories showed that their fathers choseto invest in the education of their brothers rather than in their own education. Theeducational experiences of Kilome women of different ages showed the persistence of147son preference in the allocation of resources in the acquisition of educationalopportunities. Mulee, for instance, talked about her experiences of schooling as follows:Mu: I really did not attend school well.. I used to be sent home so often and atStandard 71 left school because my younger brother caught up with me and I wasasked to stay at home to let him to be educated. I used to be made to miss schoolmany times and I would be asked to repeat classes, eventually he caught up withme and I was asked to leave school because my parents couldn’t afford the schoolfees (Interview, July 1994).While the introduction of formal education along gender and racial lines has had anegative impact on the education of women, parents’ preference to invest in the educationof their sons has exacerbated gender inequities in accessing educational opportunities.The fathers’ preference to invest in the education of their sons, rather than in theeducation of their daughters, is influenced by precapitalist beliefs about marriage andfamily. Among the Akamba, for example, families were and still are patrilineal and familydescent is still traced through the male side. Property is still acquired through inheritanceand it is only sons who can inherit property as well as the responsibility of the family in thefather’s old age or when he dies (Muthiani, 1973). Similarly, in the modern context,education is seen as an inheritance to be acquired by the ones who will take the family’sresponsibility and carry on the family name. Therefore, if a family disposes of its propertysuch as livestock and land to educate a son, he is expected to take responsibility of thefamily and look after his aged parents when he finally enters the formal employmentsector.148Assumption That Girls Will Get MarriedAmong many African peoples, marriage is seen as a focus of existence, a duty, arequirement of the corporate society, and a rhythm of life in which everyone is required toparticipate (Mbiti, 1990). A Mukamba family continues to be patrilocally extended andwomen leave their homes to go and establish “their own homes” at their spouses’ homes.The interplay between high monetary costs of education and the potential ofadolescent girls to become mothers limits educational opportunities made available togirls. Many rural families with non or limited income-generating opportunities are forcedto sell their property, usually land and livestock, to educate their children, particularly atthe secondary level of education. Women from Kithumba and Kyandue villages and thosefrom Salama town note that very few men dispose of their property, especially land, toeducate girls because of the gendered cultural assumptions about womanhood.Traditionally land belonged to the clan or family but not to individuals. Land wasused communally and was not considered a property to be inherited like livestock.However, the land registration policy introduced by the colonial administration andreinforced by post-colonial land policies stipulated that land be registered in the name ofthe head of the household who was assumed to be the man. Under this policy, a man inwhose name the land is registered owns the land and controls the products of that land.He is the only one entitled to make decisions on the land. Land has become a veryvaluable property that has increased its value with population boom. It has become ascarce commodity and a source of serious family disputes. Payment of secondary schoolfees is one of the few reasons that a family would consider selling a piece of land. Most149men, however, will not dispose of their land to educate a girl because girls are considered“transient” members of the family. It is assumed that when girls mature, they will getmarried and leave their families. Most men feel that investing in a girl’s education is anunwise move, a precarious venture because a girl may become pregnant and leave schooland/or she may get married and leave her family.Ngina notes that many fathers feel that it is not worth investing heavily in adaughter’s education since she will get married and her education will benefit herhusband’s family that did not invest in her education.MN: Are most girls from Kyandue achieving a good education?Ng: Not really. I think the same beliefs that existed long time ago are still lingeringwith us. When a man educates his daughter, he feels that she will take that “profit”(vaita) to somebody else’s home. Some people still feel that if they educate theirdaughters, they will leave and get married. That is not true (Interview, July 1994).Meli, too, points out that some girls’ educational opportunities are limited because theyare expected to get married.Me: I feel that girls do not stay on in education because many parents argue thatthey shouldn’t spend money on educating girls because they will get married butthese days there isn’t a girl and boy. All children are the same and, if the one whoyou see has an interest and puts effort in school, you should educate that onewithout discriminating. All children are the same and any child who is interested ineducation and works hard should be encouraged and supported by all means(Interview, July 1994).Manduu, who is over 50 years of age, has not seen any man sell land to educate a girl.Ma: I have not seen men sell land to educate a girl but they sell land to educateboys. This is not a good way of thinking because even if the girl eventually getsmarried, when she gets ajob she will not forget her parents. Also, she does nothave to get married and, more so, even if she gets married, she will help herselfand her family with that knowledge you gave her. And that for a woman is a bigbenefit because a woman will never go and spend her money on alcohol she willalways take it home and support her children.. . . Her children are her first priority(Interview, July 1994).150The gender discrepancies in investing in the education of girls and boys arewidespread and women from all the sites reiterated that it was extremely hard for men todispose of their land to educate a girl. Many women from the other sites agreed withKilome women that:It is very hard for men to sell their land to educate girls. They wouldn’t agree. Ifthere are any they are very few and we have not heard of one. They [men] will sellland and cows to educate sons (women in a chorus). Men can sell all the cows andleave the barn empty to educate their sons (Kithumba women’s self-help group,July 1994).Therefore the increasing high cost of education is limiting girls’ educationalopportunities particularly at the secondary level. Because of the physical and materialdemands of the education system, parents dispose of their property (land, cows) toeducate their children. There is still a strong belief that a woman, no matter how mucheducation she gets, will eventually get married and move out of her home and take all thateducation to benefit her spouse’s family. The question that the parents ask is: Whathappens if the family disposes of their land to educate their daughter who, after acquiringthe education and a good job, gets married and leaves the family, or worse still, she dropsout of school because of a pregnancy? Women, however, note that gender relationshipsin marriage change to the benefit of the woman if she is educated. As Ngina points out:If your daughter has an education, she does not have to get married. If she doesget married, she doesn’t have to get married in the real traditional meaning (tikutwawa ni kutwaana), it is no longer the getting married but the man and womanmarrying each other. My desire is to have my daughters educated more than theboys because they are more empathetic than the sons. If your daughter is noteducated and therefore has no job or means of earning her own income,, she willhave to struggle with her husband to get anything (support) from him to supportherself and her parents (Interview, July 1994).151Although Ngina feels that the pressure to get married may be eased by beingeducated, the experiences of two of the professional women who participated in the studyindicated otherwise. Koki notes that her parents have tried to pressure her to get married.They have sought suitors for her.Ko: I remember there was a time that my mother sent for me to go home. When Iwent home she told me about this widower who was like double my age wanted tomany me. She said that his parents had come to see them (her parents) and wereinterested in me. I was so angry with her. How could people come to my parentsto ask for such things.. and the age difference and the man himself! I didn’t like itat all. I told my mother that I was capable of finding myself a man if I really wantone (Interview, June 1994).Koki’s parents nonetheless expect her to contribute to the family’s welfare more than hersisters who are married. The parents want her to contribute money towards familyprojects but she knows that she will not inherit any of them. She points out that hermarried sisters are not asked to contribute because the parents argue that those marriedhave their “own homes” to worry about. She wonders why her parents do not understandthat she is a single mother and has the sole responsibility of her daughter.Wausi, another single parent, feels that she too has experienced a lot of pressure toget married. She feels that although she would like a partner, she shouldn’t be rushed tofind one. Akamba culture expects all girls to ultimately get married and have their own“homes.” Muthiani (1973) points out that a home, as the Akamba saw it, is a familywhich comprises parents and their offspring or the nuclear family. A home also includedgrandchildren. It is therefore understandable why women who are not married and havechildren are not considered as having “homes.” The cultural expectation that girls’ shouldultimately become wives and mothers has become an impediment to girls’ education.152Girls’ Potential MotherhoodWomen from Kilome division note that there is an increase in the number of girlsleaving school because of pregnancies, particularly at the senior primary and secondarylevels of education. Kilome women identified this as one of the reasons why men arehesitant to invest in the education of girls. Girls who get pregnant in school are expelledfrom school with little possibility for re-entry into the formal education system. Girls aredoubly victimized as a result of pregnancy. When a girl leaves school because ofpregnancy, the repercussions of her deed could be far reaching. In extreme cases, fathersmight refuse to educate the other female children and blame the mother for her daughter’s“bad behaviour.” Mwelu described the situation quite eloquently.Mw: There are many girls dropping out of school due to pregnancy even though itseems that nowadays girls have learnt other ways of avoiding pregnancy. Therehave been very many such that out of 40 girls in a class, about 20 leave schoolbecause of pregnancy. Those who “persevere” to the end are quite few, not many.That is one form of failure. If one gets a child while in school, that ends theireducation because one cannot be a mother and a student at the same time. Youcannot manage both. For others, their fathers are very angry when their daughtersget pregnant and feel like sending the daughters and their mothers out of thehome. Others refuse to educate daughters who come after the one who left schoolbecause of pregnancy. Some parents stop paying fees for all their daughtersbecause of one girl’s mistake because they do not want to waste their money.That’s it. If a daughter gives birth, she disheartens her parents. Some parents as Isaid refuse to pay school fees for all the other daughters and maybe this daughterwas not going to have a baby like her sister since all children cannot be the same.Some parents fail to understand their daughters because some girls who give birthdon’t do so willingly. Sometimes they don’t really know what they are doingwhen they get involved with the boys (Interview, July 1994).Mariya’s two daughters left school because of pregnancy. These girls were not able to reenter the school system. The pregnancy of the two girls undermined Mariya’s ability to153bring up her daughters accordingly. It is not surprising that Mariya did not want to talkabout what happened to these girls.MN: Are any ofyour children in secondaiy school?Ma: I have 10 children. The first two left school before they completed secondaiylevel, they were defeated and they are married now.MN: What do you mean by “they were defeated”?Ma: Why, they were defeated by school means that they went through the wrong pathMN: Meaning what? I really don’t understand what you are saying!Ma: They got pregnant and because of this they couldn’t go back to school.MN: Could you have agreed to look after their children so that they could return toschool? (Interview, July 1994).Ma: (Pause)Nzula, a friend of Mariya, felt that she had to answer this question for Mariya. She had thefollowing to say.Nz: You see.. let me answer that one for her., that is the story we were telling you..that is how it becomes., now you a woman (mother) you want to educate this girl, youwant to take her back to school and your husband tells you that “because yourdaughter gave birth, she can not be taken to school” and you have no money. So whatdo you do, tell me? (Interview, July 1994)The interview excerpt shows that Maiiya was not very comfortable to talk about herdaughters’ pregnancies. Her feelings are understandable because, when a girl gets a babyoutside wedlock, the mother is blamed for not having taught her daughter how to behave andthat illegitimate children are not welcome in the homestead. Often, the linher directs his angerat the mother and the daughter and, in many occasions, the father asks the girl to go to thehome of the baby’s father. Pregnancy tends to mark the end of formal education for the girlsinvolved. Investing in a girls’ education is therefore considered a risky business. As Kadongoobserves,Ka: Girls from this place don’t stay in school long enough because many people,like parents and especially fathers feel that educating a woman is a waste of theirmoney because they say that this girl will go to school and will leave (quit--aemwein kisomo ku) before she completes to get married or because she is pregnant.154most girls tend to get caught up in worldly pleasures. Because of this they preferto educate boys. I don’t know why they take it that way (Interview, August1994).Maria, too, feels that there are too many girls dropping out of school to getmarried and also because of pregnancy. She also states that girls value marriage morethan education and tend to jump at any opportunity to get married. It is very rare to meeta woman who was never married. Although roles within marriage have changed withtime, there is still that strong message sent to girls that when they are of age they shouldget married and have their own “homes.” A single woman is seen as though she isincomplete. Besides getting education from schools, mothers try to give their daughtersskills related to motherhood and wifehood. Maria has experienced the pressure to go backto her husband even though her marriage was both physically and emotionally abusive.One elderly woman whom Maria calls “mother” (since she is old enough to be Maria’smother and also Maria’s mother is deceased) has repeatedly asked Maria to go back to herhusband. Maria does not want to go back to her husband or to get married to anybodyelse. She notes that when a woman gets married, she is trapped and it becomes impossibleto re-enter the education system (particularly if she hadn’t completed secondary school) orsearch for paid employment. Maria observed that:They (girls) seem to be interested much more in getting married. I ask them why itis that you want to get married and they say it is as though it is a must for awoman to get married. I ask them what about working? They say, it is a must toget married but not a must to work. Also, some girls leave school because ofpregnancy and their parents take it so badly such that they ignore them andsometimes mistreat them and they don’t give them any help and because of thisneglect, they (the girls) decide to get married to anybody who they meet first andchances are they get married to the wrong person. And when they get married,many men will not allow you to go and look for a job because that is consideredlike becoming a loose woman and so you are stuck at home giving birth and doingthe donkey work (Interview, August 1994).155The assumption that women will become promiscuous if they work outside the homelimits their participation to activities in the private sphere.Responsibility for Sex educationUnwanted pregnancy is one of the factors that limits girls’ educationalopportunities. However, as Wausi, one of the professional women, points out, there is noone educating girls about their sexuality. Traditionally, grandmothers discussed sexualityissues with their granddaughters. Youngsters learned about sex in the traditional dancesthat they attended. The coming of the missionaries marked the end of these traditions.Wausi points to Christianity or religion as the major barrier to the possibility of addressingsexuality issues. Wausi had the following to say:Wa: I think the biggest problem is that because of this “witikilo” or Christianity, Ikeep telling you about. People avoid the whole issue of talking about sex and yetit is responsible for a lot of the problems. I mean so many girls drop out of schoolwhen they are in primary and in secondary school because of pregnancy.. you justhear so and so’s daughter is pregnant, people want to avoid issues like telling theirdaughters that you can get pregnant, they also want to avoid issues like telling herthat “you know, ifyou really must do this you better do abc” and of course there isalso the other moral from the Bible like “you are single you should not be havingsex.” I mean, like I found that when I got to college suddenly you are in arelationship and you can’t even make a decision about getting contraceptivesbecause there is a part of your mind that tells you, ‘God, the minute you do thatyou will start saying yes to every man and you are just as good as a “pro”(meaning prostitute). And I think that happens a lot in common, it is like here youare into something and every other person is doing it and yet you know a lot ofthem are in very stable relationships but you can’t just bring yourself to make thatdecision. I mean it is tipped in a lot of moral issues that a lot of us have not sortedout by the time we get to college or even whatever time we become sexuallyactive, yet..MN: There is denial?Wa: There is some denial also..MN: It is like they are seeing their daughters get pregnant and they don’t talkabout it, let’s close our eyes.156Wa: The good girls are the ones who get through it. Yet there are a lot of goodgirls who make a small mistake. I think it is an issue that needs to be addressedvery cautiously and seriously and have a lot of time devoted to constantly makingyoung people aware of the dangers of.. and all that it is involved. I don’t know.It frightens me about my own daughter (Interview, September 1994).Teenage pregnancy is a concern of every parent, particularly mothers who are heldresponsible for teaching their daughters morals around sexuality and the consequences.As Wausi points out, the issue of sexuality is complex and mothers are not sure how toaddress it in the modern context. In the precolonial contexts, young people learntacceptable norms through grandmothers and age-group rituals such as circumcision.Mothers are apprehensive of exploring the technological choices for controffingreproduction with their daughters because it would be equivalent to promotingpromiscuity. Abstinence is the most preferred method of contraception, but the reality isthat most girls are sexually active.Women in the village expressed the need for girls to be “well behaved” to avoidgetting pregnant. Beth noted that:Be: Yes it is true that we parents do not talk about sex with our daughters. Webehave as if we are scared of each other and somehow we hope they learn about itin schools or somewhere else, I don’t know where. The problem is that weparents are not very close to our daughters.. I don’t know whether that is thereason but it is just so hard for you as a mother to talk to your daughter about suchthings. You see, in the early days our grandmothers used to talk to us about whatwould happen ifwe slept with boys (Interview, June 1994).Mariya pointed out that mothers need to develop a close relationship with their daughtersso that the daughters can feel free to discuss their sexuality with them.Ma: I don’t know how we can do it but I think it is very important for us mothersto establish a good relationship with our daughters while they are small so thatthey can feel free to tell us what is happening in their lives. Most of the times, wenever even know that they have started having their periods before we find theyare pregnant and then you are in trouble with your husband who thinks that you157should have known what was happening and prevented the pregnancy from takingplace (Interview, July 1994).The dilemma that most parents face is how girls should be told about using contraceptionwithout compromising assumed standards of morality. Also, there is concern aboutwhether schools should be teaching girls about sexuality and what should be taught in theclasses.Women and girls are being held solely responsible for childbearing andchildrearing. However, it is important that both boys and girls are made aware of theconsequences involved so that girls are not doubly victimized for getting pregnant. Ofimportance too are the circumstances that girls become sexually active. Often the meninvolved are adults who coerce the girls into sexual relationships which result inpregnancies. Girls need to be taught about their rights and provided the space to discusssuch abuse without being blamed for provoking it.PovertyUnderlying the gendered cultural assumptions that limit girls’ educationalopportunities is poverty. Poverty among rural families is a major limiting factor to theeducation of girls in Kilome division. In a society created by the colonial administration,that is divided between a comparatively small urban elite and a large impoverished andmostly rural population, families are having to make decisions and choices of who is to beeducated based on gender. Women form over 78% of the rural adult population. Inthese impoverished conditions, women in the neocolonial era have limited access toresources and have little control over resources that the family owns. Women are the158poorest of the poor since even poor men have poorer wives and children (Vickers, 1991).Women are, however, well aware of the importance of girls’ education and are committedto providing their children with educational opportunities but as Nzula, a participant in thisstudy, points out, most women lack the resources or the economic power to afford thehigh fees charged in schools specifically at the secondary level. Nzula put the dilemmathat women face succinctly:If you are told that there is no money to educate your daughter, what can you doto push the child ahead, if my husband comes and says there is no money and I amnot working and I have no authority to sell land. You see men are the ones whosell land. I can’t even sell land. What can I do? (Interview, July 1994)Colonial and posteolonial development policies shifted the control of communalland to individual men assumed to be heads of households. The shift has meant that mencontrol the land and the products of it and that women’s access to land is mainly throughspouses or male relatives. Market-oriented land policies have had a negative impact onrural poor, the majority of whom are women and their children. As Vickers (1991)argues, the recession, the debt crisis and structural adjustment policies have placed the heaviestburden on poor women, who earn less, own less and control less. Women care for children,the aged, the sick; the handicapped and others who cannot look after themselves. They servicethe household with food, cleanliness, clothing and in many cases water and fuel. When rains failand food prices rise and wages fall, a woman must spend more time finding ways to satisfy herfamily’s hunger, often eating less herself in order to feed her husband and children. Women’sactivities are labour intensive and mostly unpaid.Women in Kenya have limited sources of income. Female participation, as aproportion of modern wage employment, was 22.1% in 1991 with most of the women159concentrated in traditional female domains characteiised by low pay, poor working conditionsand no benefits (Republic ofKenya, Women’s Bureau/S1DA project, 1993). Low participationofwomen in the formal employment sector is a consequence of colonialism. Colonial policiessuch as (a) development of a formal employment sector in the urban areas with high payingjobs for those educated, (b) the need for a semi-skilled African cheap male labour, and (c) theprovision of education and employment opportunities along gender lines are factors that havelimited rural women’s participation in activities designated “significant economic activities.”Rural women’s concentration in activities designated as “non-economic” has impeded theirstruggles to afford their children educational and economic opportunities.Poverty is pervasive in the rural areas such as Kilome division. As Mutheu observes,poverty and famine have made it almost impossible for parents in this area to afford theirchildren educational opportunities particularly at the secondaiy level.Mu: First, families in Kilome have to buy food from the shop, the rains are badand we have overpopulated the land. The fact that food has to be boughtcompetes with school fees., the issue is to survive first and think about schoollater. You see our area has a lot of problems. We have very few girls’ schoolsand others go to far away schools and there are many problems with this too. Busfare has gone up and you have to buy so many things because these days they gowith so many things, bedding, besides soaps and school fees and especially to go toForm 1 if you as a parent want your child to be a bit comfortable, you must haveat least 20,000 Kenya shillings [CDN $700] because you have to buy all thingsincluding a basin for bathing and there is also a lot of theft (laughter). In our dayswe used to lock up things in lockers or in our suitcases. But these days how doyou lock up your mattress in a box? (laughter) or your blanket? Your child comeshome and tells you that the blanket has been stolen. There are so many problemsand the kids have become small criminals (laughter) because those days we justused to have petty thieves but these days you find kids who steal everything andanything. If you open their suitcases (boxes) you find spoons and these days theyare just taking the things from you. The reports that are coming out of schools arescary. This is because there is a lot of property-personal property in schools(laughter) in the dormitories and so the risks are higher. All that burden is on theparent because they are the ones who hear these problems first. And theseproblems can only be solved with money (mbesa) not with maize (mbemba).160Somebody else had written in the paper that Form is look like civil servants whenthey are going to school because they cany a lot of things, mattresses, blankets,basins, stoves and a lot of money to pay school fees and so the parent has to takethat child up to the school because thieves and conmen target these children and sothe parent has a lot ofwork (Interview, September 1994 emphasis added).Many rural families live in conditions circumscribed by poverty and this has influencedgirls’ educational opportunities. Kamene and Wanza attest to the impact of poverty ontheir education. Assertions such as the following give a sense of the reality of women’slives. “I left school in Standard 3 because of poverty.” “I went up to Standard 4 and leftschool because ofpoverty, we lacked resources.” “Do you know how much hardships weendure!” “There is a lot of poverty here.” “Do you know that it is because of poverty weare so much behind! Everyone wants to educate her children/daughters but if there is nomoney how can you give them an education”? (Musili, Wanza, Kamene and Beth,Interview, July 1994).ConclusionsWomen identify the high cost of schooling as a major barrier to girls’ education.They also identify gendered assumptions that limit the allocation of resources to girls anddeny them access to meaningful educational opportunities. The women point out thatfathers minimize their investment in the education ofgirls on the assumption that girls willget married and will not take the primary responsibility of their families’ welfare.However, the women ofKilome are determined to offer their daughters meaningfuleducational opportunities to enable them to participate in the public sphere as do theirmale counterparts. These women firmly believe that education opens doors and offers theopportunity to break the poverty cycle. The women have taken new roles and challenges161of providing their children with education and economic opportunities. In addition, theycontinue their roles as food producers, cash crop producers, childrearers, care givers andactive participants in women’s self-help groups and other community affairs. Women’slabour is also required for the numerous “development projects” that have been initiatedby the government and development organizations in the rural areas which Feldman(1983) argues have little potential for improving the living conditions of rural women.However, the women’s agency is evident in their articulation of their experiences, those oftheir children and in their active participation in resisting, restructuring and/ortransforming their society.162Chapter 7Intensification Of Women’s Labour To Educate Their ChildrenAnd Its ImplicationsIn this chapter I examine Kilome women’s economic activities and theintensification of their labour as they pick up new roles and challenges as interventionagents for their daughters’ education in Kenya today. The women are convinced that theeducation of women is important and are engaged in a variety of activities to enable theirchildren, and daughters in particular, to acquire the educational opportunities that weredenied them because of cultural, social, economic and political factors. First, I discussthe importance that women attach to educating their daughters. Secondly, I examine thewomen’s inability to depend on husbands for their daughters’ education. Thirdly, Iexamine the intensification of women’s labour as they engage in a multiplicity of income-generating activities to provide opportunities for their children’s needs in a genderedeconomy. Finally, I examine the limitations of women’s activities in making educationalopportunities available to their daughters and the implications of the women’sintensification of labour to their health, to girls’ education and to the welfare of thewomen’s dependents (children, the aged and the sick).Importance Women Attach to Educating DaughtersKilome women who participated in my study noted that their daughters and themajority of girls in Kilome division are leaving school without the educational credentials163capable of affording them paid employment or reliable/dependable income-generatingactivities. Both in our group and individual conversations, the women repeatedly linkededucation with paid work. The women stressed that there were great benefits in educatinga girl. They noted that it was very important for their daughters to be economicallyindependent to deal with their children’s, parents’ and personal financial problems withouthaving to ask for money from their spouses.The women desire for their daughters to get as much education as possiblebecause they know that in present day Kenya, there are no employment opportunities forholders of primary school level education. When I asked one group what kind ofeducation they would want for their daughters, the women responded in a chorus,We want our daughters to study hard as you did, we want to see them employedwith an income and having their own property. We want to see them selfreliant(meekwatie). If you had not been educated would you have been able to assembleus here? (Kithumba Women, July 1, 1994)The women believe that education would enable their daughters to challenge theinstitutionalized pattern of gender relations which involves inequalities of power, sexualityand resource allocation favouring men over women (Scott, 1990). To these women, aneducated woman would be able to find employment and (a) support her mother, (b)support her family and own property--be self-reliant, and (c) make her marriage choices.Support for MothersThe women bank on the education of their daughters as an investment from whichthey will reap benefits when their daughters enter the formal employment sector. Theystress that daughters are more empathetic than boys to their mothers and would support164their mothers financially. For instance, Rachel likens education to a fruit. She notes that,if her daughter gets an education and a job, she will not let her mother suffer. Indeed,Rachel will forget all the awful experiences she has had as a married woman.MN: Is education valuable?Ra: It is very important and valuable. It is our “fruit” now because if you lookaround, the household that has no education, they have no “fruit” to eat. The wayI have seen education in Kenya, it is the fruit of Kenya because if my daughter getseducation, I know that I would forget those awful experiences I had and thestruggles that I had to go through to educate her. I feel that education is soimportant in my life.MN: What about a girl’s education?Ra: A daughter’s education.. what I see is that girls are more empathetic and aremerciful. Like now I told you that my mother has a lot of things, at least morethan myself, but whenever I get something I always feel that I should give hersome of it because of that mercy. Men are not like that (Interview, July 1994).Kadongo, too, feels that educating girls is important because girls would not neglect theirparents when they get employment. Kadongo also emphasizes the economic power thateducation accrues to women through employment, consequently enabling women toaccumulate capital to purchase property.MN: Is educating girls important or is it worth it?Ka: Yes, it is very important. These days I think it is better to educate girlsbecause they do not neglect their parents. Educated women are supporting theirparents a lot.MN: How would education have helped you?Ka: What are you saying! It would have helped me a lot. For example, I would beable to do my own things. I would be wGrking and I would be able to help myparents because they are the ones who educated me. I would have been able tobuild a house for my children. Right now, I cannot afford to buy the corrugatediron sheets that I need (Interview, July, 1994).Ngina from Kyandue feels that she will benefit more from the education of her daughtersthan that of her sons. She too notes that:Ng: My desire is to have my daughters educated more than the sons because girlsare more empathetic than boys. Sons can refuse to give their own mothers thingsand take them to their mother-in-laws, do you know that? But a woman would not165do that to her mother. It is very hard. A daughter would want her mother to havegood things. She would support her mother financially even if she is married(Interview, July 1994).Kambua, from Salama town, too, concurs with the village women about theimportance of women’s education. She points out that it is important to educate womenbecause, if a woman starts working, she will support her children and her mother. In hercase, she is trying to support her mother with the little money that she earns as a bar maid.MN: Do you think education ofwomen is important?Ka: Oh please (yii mwa ki maana) it is very important because women are the oneswho know their children, they are the ones who take care of their children andmothers. Like in my family, I am the only one who supports my mother, mybrothers don’t care at all about her. I send her money twice a month but the boysdon’t do that. Personally it (education) would have been very important. You seeif I had gotten an education, I wouldn’t be working here. I wanted to become anurse. Nurses don’t suffer the way I suffer here., nursing is much better. Theycan do things for themselves. Like you see sometimes if a woman is married andthere is no cooking fat and other little things like that, should I be writing letters tohim (imaginary husband) in Nairobi to tell him that we have no cooking fat? Ishould be able to do some of these things with my own money or buy the childrenschool uniform and take my children to hospital if there is need for that. I think itwould be important for me to do things for myself and education would have madethat possible (Interview, September 1994).These interview excerpts show that parents still believe that education ensures individualsreasonably well paid jobs in the urban areas. Sons, traditionally, are expected to carryover the family’s name and the responsibilities in it. Such responsibilities include ensuringthat their aging parents are given adequate care. The excerpts, however, show thatmothers no longer think of sons as the only ones who can support them in their old age.Mothers believe that they would benefit more from their daughters’ prosperity than fromtheir sons.166Support Own FamiliesManduu points out that it is also important to give girls education because whenthey get a job, their families, particularly their children, would be the first priority. Sheclaims that men are likely to spend their money on unimportant things like alcohol.Manduu feels that educating girls is an invaluable investment that warrants even thedisposal of land.I have not seen men sell land to educate a girl but they sell land to educate boys.This is not a good way of thinking because even if the girl eventually gets married,when she gets a job she will not forget her parents. Also, she does not have to getmarried and more so, even if she gets married, she will help herself and her familywith that knowledge you gave her. And that for a woman is a big benefit becausea woman will never go and spend her money on alcohol, she will always take ithome and support her children. . . . Her children are her first priority (Interview,July 1994).Kilome women feel that education has the potential to open many doors forwomen. The most important option education affords women is the opportunity toparticipate in the formal employment sector. The women see how education has enabledmen to enter the formal employment sector while the women’s lack of education shutthem out of this sector. Women earn their money the hard way but spend it all on theirfamilies while some men spend their money on individualistic ventures or habits. Wanza,for instance, is concerned that her husband has not made the family his first priority. Shenotes that, if she had received an education equivalent to that of her husband and had asimilar job, the family wouldn’t be experiencing the financial hardships they areundergoing.MN: Is the education of women important?Wa: Very much so (yii mwa). I’m sure you know that girls are more empatheticwith their parents than men. Men can get their salary and go and spend it withother women outside and forget their own families and parents. Like yoursel±167would you let your mother suffer? For example now, if I had education and maybethe job that my husband has, I would be able to take care of my family. You see, Iwill not go out and squander my salary with anybody when my family is goingwithout food and education. Like now I need to build a house and I do not havethe money. But if I was the one working, I wouldn’t take that money and spend itoutside the family.MN: Does he drink alcohol?Wa: Sometimes he does but not always (Interview, August 1994).Mulee, from Kithumba, feels that if her father had allowed her to get an education equal tothat of her brother, she would be working or having a regular income and supporting herfamily just like her brother supports his family.MN: Let’s say you had had an education, how would it be?Mu: If I had received a better education I think I would be better off (nithiwanikavala). I would be doing something (meaning work), I would be sure that atthe end of each month I have a certain amount of money coming. I try to look formoney that I am not sure I will get. I don’t have a definite deal with anybody(kyathi na mundu kana akanenga mbesa). You just go out to look for moneydepending mostly on luck trying to see if you’ll get anything. If I had theeducation my brother got, I would be able to educate my children without thesedifficulties (Interview, July 1994).The interview excerpts show that women feel obliged to take responsibilities overthe welfare of their families. These responsibilities require the women to have reliablesources of income. However, the income-generating activities that the women areengaged in are precarious and they perceive education as capable of affording women, andtheir daughters in particular, more reliable income opportunities to meet the needs of theirfamilies.Making Marriage ChoicesThe women see education and its provision of employment as capable of providinggirls the ability to make choices in life including choosing to get married or remaining168single. The women note that marriage is no longer a solution or an alternative for girls’education. Indeed, Meli points out that marriage these days is problematic. Womencannot expect to be just their husbands’ helpers. Women need to enter in a marriagerelationship knowing that they can take care of their children. For this reason, manymothers are concerned about their daughters getting married when they are not capable oftaking care oftheir children. Meli is concerned about her daughter who left school in Standard4 and got married. She points out that her daughter is suffering and she would not encourageher other daughters to get married. She asserts that marriage is not a solution if the womancannot take care of her children. A reliable income is a prerequisite for a woman’s self-reliance. The women point out that education and training opportunities increase employmentopportunities for girls which are crucial to women’s economic independence (Ngina, July1994). They desire that their daughters get education and paid jobs because the other income-generating opportunities available in Kilome division and neighboring divisions are not reliable.The women have had to “sacrifice” themselves in order to have some income to educate theirdaughters and look after their children. They do not think their daughters would be able toengage in the type of strenuous work they do.Me: My daughter can see how I struggle to get school fees for her. I really want her toget an education. I don’t want her to leave school and get manied like her sisters.MN: Why?Me: Getting married these days is a problem. I am not encouraging her to get marriedbecause her elder sister who got married after Standard 4 is having a lot of problems.She is always coming back home from her husband’s house, she is not comfortable. Iwould rather she got educated and become independent, not to depend on a man. I tellher to work very hard so that she can get a good education and a job to help me andherselftoo (Interview, July 1994).169Eighteen year-old Munee, a high school student had the following to say about the work thather mother does to support them and also on marriage.MN: Which Form are you now?Mu: I am hi Form 4 and I will be sitting for my university entiy examinations inNovember.MN: What do you see yourselfdoing after completing your secondary level?Mu: I want to go to college and train as a police woman.MN: Then what do you do after that?Mu: I will work and do my own things.MN: Do you think you will get married?Mu: Who? Me? I am not thinking about that now. I don’t want to think about thatnow. Don’t you see how those who got married after Form four are suffering? It istoo tough particularly ifyou are not working and you have nothing that is yours.MN: Well, you can cultivate his plot and plant food crops just like the other womenwho don’t have paid jobs. Your mother has been able to do a lot for you that way.Mu: Do you think it has been easy for her? It is very tough. She works so hardthroughout the year and only gets to rest when she is sick. I dont think I can do that, itis just too hard for me or for any girl ofmy generation (Interview, September 1994).Ngina points that when a woman is educated, she does not have to get married in thetraditional sense. She notes that it is no longer mandatory for a girl to get married if she iseducated.If your daughter has an education, she does not have to get married in the realtraditional meaning (ti kutwawa ni kutwaana). It is no longer the woman gettingmarried but the man and woman marrying. My desire is to have my daughterseducated more than the boys because they are more empathetic than the sons. If yourdaughter is not educated and therefore has no job or means of earning her own income,she will have to struggle with her husband to get anything from him (Interview, July1994).Nduki, who lives with her two sons in her father’s compound, feels that marriageis not a solution even though her father wants her to get married so that she can leave hiscompound. She notes that most married women are no better than she is because womencan no longer rely on their husbands to meet the families’ needs. Nduki blames her father170for having denied her secondary education which would have provided her a job like herbrothers who have found employment with their secondary level education.I have now lived in my father’s compound and I know my father does not want usthere. He wants me to get married but getting married is not an easy thing thesedays. Particularly for people like me with two children you might get married to aman who will start mistreating your children. Yes, getting married is good butmarriage has a lot of things or baggage these days and it is becoming impossible.The way I feel now, if only my father had educated me even if I didn’t get married,I would be leading a much more comfortable life because it wouldn’t be a must toget married (Interview, September 1994).Nduki is not the only one who has experienced pressure to get married. Koki andWausi, two professional women, each aged 36 years, too have experienced pressure to getmarried. Nevertheless, the professional women are not living in their fathers’ compoundsand do not experience the pressure and desperation that Nduki is undergoing. They are ina position to make choices. If they don’t ever get married, they don’t have to live in theirparents’ compounds, they can afford to buy land or a house in the city. Nduki cannotafford this option, which she says would be best for her and her children. Wausi and Kokiare both single parents and have daughters aged 10 and 11 years old respectively. Wausi,however, points out that being a single mother has not been particularly acceptable.The thing is that much as it is very common to be a single parent, it is not exactlyaccepted. I don’t know whether it is because of our religious society but it is likeideally people should only have kids when they are married so like I can tell youmuch as I really wanted to have a baby when I did, it hit a big blow to my selfesteem and ego. It is like somehow, initially I couldn’t just strike a balance, it’slike I had, I was not completely acceptable.MN: You didn’t feel acceptable or?Wa: I felt it..MN: But it was more from within yourself?Wa: I don’t think it was more from within myself I remember when I got eh.. Imean when I told my parents, yes I still see this guy but I don’t want to getmarried to him. It was like, what? What is wrong?MN: The assumption was that you should get married to him?171Wa: You should get married was the assumption but, at that time, anyway I didn’twant to get married (Interview, September 1994).It seems that motherhood is honored only if it is within the marriage institution.Koki, a 36 year-old registered nurse, midwife and mother of one, has beenpressured by peers and parents to get married. She has been introduced to various men inthe hope of her finding a marriage partner. Koki is concerned about the preferentialtreatment that her brothers and married sisters receive from her parents. She points outthat her parents are not cognizant of her own family’s demands as a single mother andthey expect her to invest heavily in the family’s projects while they are not prepared togive her rights of inheritance since she is a woman. Koki has educated four siblingsthrough secondary and tertiary levels of education. She feels doubly victimized.MN: Have you been pressured to get married?Ko: By who now?MN: Anybody. Your peers, your colleagues, your parents etc?Ko: Yes I have been pressured.MN: By who?KoMy mother has pressured me to get married. She has even found.. (laughter)she has tried to get people for me to marry and peers have introduced men to meto marry and it did not work out (laughter from both of us). Our culture is likethat. Ifyou are married you are seen as a good woman.MN: And what do you feel about that?Ko: I hate our culture.MN: Do you feel that you should get married for the sake of satisfying thatcultural expectation?Ko: You shouldn’t get married just to satisfy a culture. On the other hand whenyou don’t get married you are seen as a bad woman. One who never got married,without her own home (nde musyi wake).MN: Own home! What does that really mean?Ko: You should know better since you are married.MN: You live in a house in Nairobi what is that to them?Ko: I have a house of my own but my parents do not recognize that I have my ownhome, house and a child to care for. They don’t. Like there is another day I don’tknow what was happening at home and they needed money or something. Then Isaid that everybody can contribute, all of us, the married sisters and the brothers.They said ‘no but those ones are married.’ They can’t ask them to contribute172anything to support their own parents or the homes where they came frombecause they are married! I find that strange.MN: Do they consider you as one of their sons? Do they ask your brothers tocontribute?Ko: Yes. They ask my brothers to contribute and my younger sister who is single.When they want something, they consider me like one of the men, they ask me topay for it. But now when it comes to their land, can they divide and give me apiece? No, they won’t. They can’t. I am just in between. They can’t give metheir land like one of their sons.M: Have you asked them about it?N: No. In fact you have given me an idea. I will ask them about it next time(Interview, June 1994).Koki’s situation is complicated by the different messages she receives from her parents.At one point they want her support even though she has a daughter to look after, but alsowant her to get married and have her “own home.”Wausi points out that marriage for her should not mean getting “married to a man”in the traditional sense, but the two getting married to each other. Nevertheless, marriageto her should be permanent because divorce “scars” a woman. She points out that manywomen marry for material, security and physical support from their husbands and most ofthem remain in abusive relationships because of their dependence on their spouses.MN: How has it been being single parent? Has it been tough?Wa: I think it is only tough in terms of eh.. I wouldn’t say it has been tough. Fine,there is a part of my mind that tells me that it would be nice to get married.Presumably I wouldn’t marry somebody who would leech on me. So it would belike sharing whatever we have and whatever responsibilities we have. I think a lotof women many first and foremost for a man to provide security, material andphysical, and especially material support to be able to pay the rent and school feesand all that.MN: And that’s not the case for you?Wa: Support could be an issue because, for example, I think WI was making moremoney I would certainly take her [daughterl to a private school rather than the citycommission school she is in now. Right now, I feel I cannot afford it but then thesolution is not to get married and I know it is within my means to get another joband so I will just do that, try and find a better job. Well, so I think the only toughthing or difficulty being a single parent is because.. I mean., like I think in amarriage, the man has his roles and the woman has her roles and I think when I173lived with my parents when I got my daughter, I think a bit of the so called man’sroles were played by my father and now I am on my own. I mean parenting is afull-time job and I have got my own life to lead, I have a career, sometimes I feel Idon’t give as much time to her (daughter) as I should. Other times I feel forexample right now, I don’t have much of a social life myself because I give all myattention to the child. From that point of view that is the only thing that has beenreally tough but I am looking for a solution to that (Both ofus laugh).MN: Is education very important in all these decisions you are making?Wa: I think it is very important, there is no doubt about it. If I was anybody else, Ithink I would have been forced into that kind of subservient relationship andunpleasant relationship if you like. At least now I can make choices (Interview,September 1994).Wausi notes that she can make choices not only because she has a good education and agood job but because she is also empowered. She feels that many women, some who holdgood paying jobs, are still being abused by their spouses. On the issue of getting married,Wausi points out that she can make a choice whether to get manied or not and to whom.Wa: At least now I can make the choices.MN: You can make choices. You don’t have to make those hushed decisionsabout marriage.Wa: Yes.MN: Does education and your career give you the power to make decisions?Wa: Well, I think fine there is that but at the same time I think there is.. the waywe are_socialized I mean there are so many women who, if you like they havegood jobs, good education and they are still abused by their husbands becausemaybe they have threatened the position of the man in the family. It could be aperceived threat and not a real one. I mean that.. they feel that they should stillrefer a lot of things to their husbands. You even see women who take their paycheques to their husbands just to give him that upper hand.MN: So you feel that there is a lot more?Wa: There is a lot more.MN: Women have to be empowered?Wa: Exactly. Women need to realize that it’s not just economic power that givesyou that bargaining strength. You’ve also got to realize that you are an individualand you’ve got to assert yourself.MN: But without the economic power..Wa: Don’t you hear the Kambas say that ‘so and so is a proudpaupert’?(Intervi w, September 1994 emphasis added).‘This is an old Akamba saying that means that you can still be poor but retain your dignity.174Wausi points out that economic independence does not necessarily produce aliberated woman. She feels that women need to be assertive in addition to beingeconomically independent. Wausi’s observations of family relations are a clear indicationthat, even though women are working to support the family economically in the publicsphere alongside men, familial hierarchical identities have not waned. Indeed, in Kenya,at the legal level, the rights and duties of each marriage partner, and even the definition ofmarriage itself; is unclear and often controversial (Stitcher & Parpart, 1988). Whateverthe marriage type, a wife has very little actual protection against the main risks she faces:lack of support, lack of child support, and physical abuse. Wausi, however, made it clearthat women’s rights must be upheld by the women who should live their lives knowingthat “a beggar does not have to lose his or her pride and dignity.” Consequently, women,no matter how impoverished, should be treated with dignity.Women’s Inability to Depend on Husbands for Daughters’ EducationMore and more women have had to take charge of their children’s, both boys’ andgirls’, education because (a) they are de facto heads of households since many men havemigrated to the urban areas in search of employment, (b) they are single heads ofhouseholds, (c) there is not enough money in the household, and (d) because of men’spreference to educate sons.Many rural women have become de facto heads of households as their husbandshave migrated to the cities to seek employment. These men visit the rural areas at mostonce a month when they receive their monthly pay. The women are left behind in the ruralareas with their children and are supposed to meet their children’s needs with the little175money they receive from their migrant husbands. Women are the ones who enrol theirchildren in the first level of formal schooling. They are the ones who are responsible forthe material and physical labour that is demanded in schools. When children are senthome to collect fees or to buy an exercise book, a pencil or school uniform, it is themother they will find at home. It is not possible to rely on migrant husbands’ salary tomeet the educational needs of their children. Therefore, mothers’ ability to contributefinancially to the education of their children, and particularly their daughters is crucial.Due to changes in the family structure, there is an increasing number of female-headed households. Single women who are heads of households receive no support fortheir children’s education from the government or from their children’s fathers. There isno law in Kenya that ensures that single mothers receive support from the fathers of theirchildren. Therefore, single mothers are solely responsible for meeting the basic andeducational needs of their children. Single mothers like Kamene know that their children’saccess to educational opportunities is dependent on the success of their economicactivities.Ka: You see me here I am the only one responsible for the education of those fourchildren that I have. They are all looking at me to provide every single thing theyneed because I am their father and mother. If my business fails, then all thosechildren sink (Interview, July 1994).Women from Kilome division pointed out that some men are simply not interestedin the education of their children and more so, that of their daughters. Several womenpointed out that some men do not consider their families their first priority and therefore,women have to become intervention agents for their children. Wanza, for instance, notes,Wa: For example now, WI had education and maybe the job that my husband has, Iwould be able to take care of my family. You see, I will not go out and squander176my salary with anybody when my family is going without food and ution.But if I was the one working, I wouldn’t take that money and spend it outside thefamily (Interview, July 1994).Some women noted that even though their spouses are working, the salaries thatthese men receive are not enough to meet the needs of their families. Such women includeMulee who describes the situation succinctly.MN: What about your husband, you said that he has been a teacher?Mu: Yes, a teacher but don’t forget that the household needs exceeds what hebrings home. We need well over 10,000 Kenya shillings and he would bring homeabout 2000 Kenya shillings what does it really come to? Schooling for the girlsbecame a struggle for all of them. And the entire lot of them have haddifficulties., all my children have had to struggle to get an education because ofthat (Interview, July 1994).In situations where resources are scarce, we find that men, who control economicresources and their distribution, prefer to invest in the education of their sons rather thanthat of their daughters.Intensification of Women’s LabourWomen from Kilome division are engaged in a multiplicity of activities in an effortto create educational opportunities for their children and to improve the living conditionsof their families. They are not only food producers and care givers, they are also inventorsof a variety of ways to provide the ever needed cash in their families. The women areengaged in income-generating activities as individuals and in groups. They are active assmall-hold farmers, domestic workers, waged employees, petty traders and in women’sself-help groups.The women ‘s income is crucial to the provision of educational opportunities forchildren and particularly female children. If a woman is not able to take up the challenge177and serve as an intervention agent, it is clear that more and more children and girls inparticular will drop out of school ill-equipped to participate in the changing society. Also,as long as educational credentials continue to be used as prerequisites for paidemployment and girls continue to leave school without these credentials, the cycle ofpoverty that has delineated their mothers’ lives will be repeated in theirs also. Mulee hastaken up the challenge but it has increased her burden. (Four points. . . . indicate omissionbetween two or more sentences).MN: What do you do then to educate your children?Mu: I sell some merchandise in the local market. I go to Nairobi, buy bar soap,paraffin (kerosene) and potatoes and come and sell them. I use the little profit Imake to pay my children’s school fees.., slowly by slowly.MN: Do you go to the market every day?Mu: I go three times a week but only in the afternoons because I have to makesure that I have done all the other work that needs to be done. I have to makesure that my plots are ready for planting when the rains begin, I must take time toweed and harvest. I also water the vegetables, then there is the daily work thatmust be done. You know a home cannot run without water, firewood, somebodyhas to cook, you know what women do, dont you?MN: Yes, I do (Interview, July 1994).The fact that women have picked up new roles and challenges does not free them fromtheir household responsibilities as mothers, wives, food producers and care givers.Therefore, women have to balance their time between all these roles includingparticipation in politically-initiated community development projects where their labour isalso required.All these factors along with the high costs of schooling have necessitated women toengage in a multiplicity of labour intensive income-generating activities. Kilome women’ssources of income include (a) employment, (b) sale of property and farm produce, and (c)“petty” business.178EmploymentEmployment opportunities in Kilome division are minimal. There are no big farms andplantations in Kilome division where women can find employment. A few women have had todo casual work in neigbours’ smaflholdings in order to meet some of their children’s basic andeducational needs. Such women include Ndunge, Mcli and Wayua.. Ndunge’s work includeshelping with household worlç digging, planting, weeding, harvesting, fetching water andfirewood and cutting napier grass for the cows. She starts work at 8:00 am and finishes at1:30 PM. depending on the season. Ndunge’s desire and commitment to educate her childrenis exemplified by the multiplicity ofincome-generating activities she is involved in.Nd: I want to educate all my children without any differentiation. I really don’tlook at some as boys and others as girls. What I don’t have is the capability to doso. I really want to educate them but I am so poor and I don’t know how I will beable to pay the secondary level school fees. Like for those two children who arefollowing each other, one in Standard 6 and the other in 7, I wonder how I will paytheir fee with the little money that I earn.MN: How much do you earn?Nd: I work for 600 Kenya shillings ($20) a month and my husband gets about1000 Kenya shillings about ($ 33) as a security man at the market. That helps alittle. But the fees are a lot. The first term my son pays around 4800 Kenyashillings and 2nd term is about 3900 Kenya shillings and the third term we pay 900Kenya shillings. This is for day school only. He sleeps at home and it is far. Andyou should not forget that this does not include the uniform. With the uniform, itis a heavy load and I am trying to make the best. I am pushing him through. He isnow in Form 2 and he is doing very well. His total fees per year are over 9000Kenya shillingsMN: And your salary is 7200 Kenya shillings per year and that is the same moneyyou use for food and everything else?Nd: Everything, soap and clothing and I have 7 children (Interview, July 1994).Although Ndunge is working very hard, she knows that her income is not enough to payfor two children’s education at the secondary level at the same time. She has made herdaughter repeat classes in the primary level to give her son the opportunity to complete his179secondary level education. Parents prefer to make their children repeat primary levelclasses because this level is cheaper than the secondary level. Repetition, however, is onefactor which increases girls’ drop out rates. Ndunge’s two daughters will soon be sittingfor their secondary entry examinations. She is deeply concerned about her girls’ educationafter their primary level of education and notes that a mother’s economic power isimportant to afford girls educational opportunities.MN: What ifyou as a mother want to educate your daughter and you don’t havethe resources?Nd: Then that’s when things become bad, that is a tragedy. Like those two ofmine (daughters), I know they will both pass and it is possible that the father..(laughs in a sorrowful way) you know how men are and that men love men andmaybe because he thinks that to educate a girl is wasteful because she will take itaway. You know they talk like that. Many men talk like that. I can see that mydaughter might pass and she is asked to stay at home and the boy is likely to betaken to school. She might also be told to go and work as a house girl and someof that money is used to educate her brother, that is the way it goes and that is abig “crack” (Interview, July 1994).Ndunge, who left school after sitting for her secondary entrance examinations, knows thatStandard 7 education or primary level education offers few economic opportunities. Shewants her daughters to have more reliable income-generating opportunities that becomepossible through higher formal education.Mcli has also tried to educate her children by working for her neigbour as acasual. The salaries are very low and the work is labour intensive. Unfortunately, eventhough these women who work in their neighbours’ plots go home exhausted, they stillhave to do similar duties in their homes!Similarly, Wayua, a widow who never got an education and was wed off as a secondwife by her father when she was a small girl, has also had to work as a casual to educate her180children. Wayua did not get an education because her mother who was schizophrenic was notin a position to take care ofher. She feels that she must do all she can to give her childreneducational opportunities.Wa: You see me here, I have nine children. But I have just two remaining with meat home. The others are married. They went to have their own homes.MN: Did you educate all of them?Wa: Yes.MN: How did you pay for their education?Wa: By working as a casual worker (ivalua tu). I was working for a neighbour. Iwork with my hands (showing me her rough hands). My children’s education hasbecome possible that way. I have been working at Mr X’s place.MN: Are you still working there now?Wa: No. I have stopped working for him now. I don’t work there anymore. Iwork for different people here and there. If a person wants me to cultivate a pieceof land or fetch water we agree on the amount to be paid and that’s how I earnsome money. You see I have fees problems and I have to do those kinds ofwork.I have educated all my children that way. I have no cattle to sell, I have nothing. Ihave tried because I do not want my children to loiter, you know how muchchildren without parents suffer (Interview, July 1994).Although these women are struggling very hard to provide their childreneducational opportunities, they see the high school fees that are charged in secondaryschools as a great barrier. Meli does not see how she will take her daughter through thesecondary level of education and she is very concerned about it. Ndunge has made herdaughter repeat primary school classes so that she can get her son through secondaryschool since she cannot afford to pay school fees for two children at the secondary schoollevel. Statements such as “I have one daughter in Standard 8 now and the other I madeher repeat Standard 6. I don’t think I will be able to afford to pay for their education . .1feel that I will not be able to get them very far because the fees that are charged in highschool are very high” are indicative of the dilemmas and difficulties that mothers are181facing in their struggle to give their daughters educational opportunities (Meli andNdunge, Interviews, July 1994).Sale of Property and Farm ProduceWomen from Kilome sell farm produce for income. The women have morecontrol over food products than livestock. Muthiani (1973) points out that among theAkamba, the participants’ ethnic group, family property belonged to the family under thedirect responsibility of the male head or guardian. With land policies, men were registeredas the owners. Women cannot sell land or livestock without the husbands’ permission, asNzula observes in the following excerpt.Nz: I have no authority to sell land. You see men are the ones who sell land. Ican’t even sell land. What can I do?MN: Why can’t you sell land and you are there and that is your home?Nz: I can’t because he has come and “roared like a lion” and said that this is hishome and the rule is that as a woman I cannot disobey, how can I? (Interview,July 1994).Akamba traditions and land policy introduced by colonial administration in the 1950s andreinforced after independence deny women the right to own property and specificallyland. Women can only have access to land through male relatives, husbands and sons.Women who are single heads of households and married without sons have noindependent access to land. Many women find it difficult to become sole owners ofproperty because to own property one needs credit and women have limited access tocredit since they don’t have collateral (Republic of Kenya: Women’ s BureauISIDAproject, 1993). Without land, it becomes difficult for women to keep livestock or plantenough food for subsistence as well as for market. It is, however, important to point out182that only about 17% of Kenya’s land is suitable for agriculture, which provides theprimary livelihood for about 80% of the population (UNICEF/GOF. Children and Womenin Kenya: A situation analysis, 1992)Those women who have access to land, particularly those with relatively largeplots of productive land, plant food crops for their families as well as for sale. Nginafrom Kyandue village has a relatively large piece of land and, recently, a small streamemerged in her plot. Ngina has utilized this piece of land to the maximum. She plants alot of maize and beans, the staple diet of Akamba people, and uses the water from thestream to plant vegetables, onions and tomatoes for sale.Ngina works very hard on her plot planting food crops and vegetables to sell tomeet the needs of her eight children, two of whom are in secondary school and two othersin training colleges. She points out that her way of earning an income is very strenuous--it is a “sacrifice” that she has had to make in order to provide her children the educationalopportunities that were denied her. Ngina had the following to say:MN: How do you get money to pay school fees for your children, cloth them etc?Ng: Sometimes I might have sold onions and gotten my own 5,0001= (niteekitunguu nakwata ngili syakwa itano). In fact, last season I earned 9,000/= fromonions. Sometimes I find that the father to my children [who works in Nairobi]cannot afford to pay all the school fees for the children. There are times when oneof the children has no school shoes, I just go and buy these things without hisknowledge. I also pay the children’s school fees, particularly those in the primaryschool and the one in the harambee secondary school. He comes and finds that hischildren have shoes and I have paid school fees and does not know where I gotthat money from. And he knows that I don’t engage in any “strange business”(ndiendaa soko ili) (Prostitution).MN: What has made your plot more productive because I know that there aremany women who cannot afford to do the things that you are doing?Ng: I have just had to “deny myself’( kwiiilea vyu) or self-sacrifice. I don’t mindgetting extremely tired. I work very hard every day. I leave my house in themorning and go back to the house at 6 p.m. because if I don’t do that my childrenwill suffer. You have to accept to work hard and very hard indeed and when the183rains fail you have to agree and accept that you will be in your plot/shambawhether there is rain or no rain. You must be working on your plot because thereis something that can be planted in the dry season like bananas, you can dig theholes and plant the bananas in the dry season and you know in the dry season(thano) many women stay home waiting for the rains whenever it will come so thatthey will wake up with the hoe going to plant. In the dry season I am in theshamba planting bananas. Before each rain season I plant about 100 banana plantsand every year I plant 200 plants, every year, and you know all these bananasdon’t get ready at the same time because those you planted this season get readyearlier than those you will plant next season and therefore I will be getting moneyfrom the bananas through out. ff1 plant the bananas during the long rains (isika) Istart seffing them in August. And those that I planted during the short rains (thwa)which start in October) I get money from the bananas in April. It takes about ayear for banana plants to mature and have bananas ready for ripening. So I sellbananas, maize, beans, tomatoes, kale and onions.MN: Do you use rain water to plant the tomatoes?Ng: No. I plant with the little water that I get from the stream. I have dug a littlewell somewhere where we found some springs and when that water dries up, Ifetch water from the river (with a 50 litre container) to water with it so that I cangive the crops enough water so that they can give me money fast..MN: Do you think you will be able to educate your children as much as you wouldlike?Ng: As for my children, I will try to give them as much education as is possible. Ifonly I could get something to help me get more water, if I had enough water, Iwould be in a better position to give my children the educational opportunities thatthey need, If it wasn’t for that water, I would be in a lot ofproblems because thevegetables that I am planting right now I will sell them in the month of Septemberand at that time we will be selling 2 kale leaves for 21= because it will be very dry.As for tomatoes we will be selling 5 for 101=, a tin is 3001= and I will get a lot ofmoney at that time because it is dry and there is normally nothing green in theplots. That is my catch (nukaa utekela vu, ndukwona kana ku nikutekea, nukaautekea thano) such that in the dry season, people won’t have problems withvegetable, I have some for my children and for selling., my children eat them too.MN: Do you have a lot of people buying your vegetables?Ng: A lot because in a day I might sell to about 20 people because sometimes Istay there at the plot until I am tired and then what I do is to harvest the vegetablesand bring them home so that instead of running to and from the plot all the timewhen somebody comes, I have them close by and tomatoes I bring them home sothat I can sell them from here because in this village, there are very few peoplewith water., water is a problem (Interview, July 1995).Other women such as Mwelu, Mulee, Janet, Wanza, Maria and Manduu also plantvegetables (kale, cabbages, French beans), tomatoes and onions to sell. Rarely do women184harvest enough maize and beans for home consumption and for sale. The women’sincome from sale of farm produce is limited by the unavailability of arabic land, fertilizersand water shortages. Few women are as privileged with land and water as Ngina fromKyandue village. The river that used to run across many plots in Kithumba village haslost much of its water because of over irrigation and poor farming practices. None of thewomen living in Salama sell farm produce from their plots because most of the women donot have access to land in Salama, and Salama has no river and receives very little rainfall.Ngina’s story supports Agarwal’s thesis that “rural women can best improve their livesand those of their children if they own and control arabie land” (quoted in World Watch,Globe & Mail, March 1995).Petty BusinessAll women from Salama town have become petty traders on a full-time basis whilesome from Kithumba and Kyandue villages have become petty traders on a part-timebasis in order to support their families. Women from the villages take their merchandiseto various market places during designated market days. Trading for the village women isnot full-time because they are also responsible for all the household chores. They are oneswho till the land, plant food and cash crops, cultivate, harvest, take care of the sick, workin school and undertake many other domestic chores. They must be at home daily tomake sure that the livestock and poultry come home safely in the evening. Women withyoung children find it harder to be petty traders. Others are forbidden by their husbands.Rose, for example, is not allowed by her husband to take any farm produce to the market.He believes that business women are promiscuous (Interview, July 1994).185The commodities that the women sell include tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, andbananas. Others sell bar soap and paraffin. Income from these activities is not adequateto meet the educational needs of the children. Kamene, for instance, points out that herchildren are constantly being sent home to collect fee balances. Beth, too, notes that herdaughters have had to leave school because she could not afford to pay their school feesas the entire family depended on the income from her tomato business.Be: My daughter who finished her primary level of education is working in theshop where I sell my vegetables in the verandah. That one is a shopkeeperalthough she had passed and we couldn’t afford to pay her school fees. All theothers from the forth born to the last one are in school. The last one is in nurseryschool. And now we are all looking at the tomatoes (tusyaitye ala manyaanya)together with their father and my mind tells me that in all honesty my children willnot go beyond Standard 8. My daughter who had two years of secondaryeducation is even very lucky. None of the younger ones will be able to go beyondthe primary level. Do you know that it is the money problem that is eliminatingeach one of them out of school? Now if that happens to each one of them, theresult is that they don’t even have a place of their own. If you have children andall those problems.. it becomes very hard. Do you hear what I am telling you?(Interview, July 1994).The women’s businesses are not doing well because the women do not have capital andaccess to credit. Mulee points out that she trades with only 2000 Kenya shillings and theprofits are used to pay school fees by installments. Her two daughters have not been ableto collect their secondary level school certificates because they have a fees balance of9,200 Kenya shillings. Mulee does not know when she will be able to pay off this debt(Interview, July 1994).These excerpts show that women are trying to increase the family’s income by alllegitimate means. Some women have become petty traders to earn money so that they canmeet their families’ basic and educational needs. However, the women’s income is not186adequate to educate their children and particularly daughters at the secondary level ofeducation. The women cannot afford their daughters’ education that offers them choicessimilar to those offered sons. The women, however, strongly believe in the useflulness ofeducating their daughters and they are doing the best they can to offer them meaningfuleducational opportunities.Limitations on Women’s Efforts to Educate their DaughtersWomen from Kilome want to educate their daughters beyond the primary level.They are aware that primary education no longer guarantees the credentials for paidemployment or skills for participation in income-generating activities. After all, most ofthese women received primary level education and they have experienced untoldhardships. However, as Mwelu points out, the women’s limited income opportunities areinsufficient to pay the high fees charged at the secondary level. The following interviewexcerpt illustrates Mwelu’ s struggles to educate children.MN: Let’s say you had gotten the education you wanted, do you think you wouldhave been able to educate all your children the way you would like?Mw: I would have educated them. In fact I feel very bad (niniiw’aa thina). Mymind shows me that if only I had gotten an education, I would educate all of mychildren to the level of their choice.MN: What would an education have given you?Mw: It would have gotten for me a reliable means of support because if I had read,it would be a must for me to look for something (job) to enable me to earn a livingto educate my children. I do not have an income and have very little education,and the only person (husband) who has a regular earning it is very little and also heseems to lack the desire to want to educate the children. It is as though he says tohimself that ‘I never got an education, you are still mine that’s O.K.’ When it getsto that point, it gets bad (nivathuka). But if you can work hard and know theimportance of education and what it will do for you even if you do not haveresources, you can get somewhere. The problem is that I struggle so hard to getthe children to Standard 7 by myself; school uniform, soap and every thing it is upto me to provide. I get so strained of money such that I cannot afford their feesparticularly at the secondary level (Interview, July 1994).187Many women face the dilemma that Mwelu faces. They work so hard to educatetheir children up to the primary level but are unable to pay fees in the secondary level ofeducation. Some women such as Wayua and Mulee have been able to educate theirdaughters’ at the secondary level. However, Mulee’s daughters have a substantial feesbalance that must be cleared before they can be given their transcripts for the universityentry examinations. Most parents chose to take their children to the local day schoolseven though these schools lack the necessary facilities. Mulee’s daughter who was calledto a government maintained school in another district ended up in a private/harambeeschool and she did poorly in her examinations. Mwikali also observed that “we are forcedto take our children to the local schools because that is what we can afford and also wecan make arrangements with the headmaster to pay the fees in instalhnents” (KithumbaGroup discussion, July 1994).The women’s efforts are undermined by the cultural, social, economic and politicalconditions in Kenya. The implementation of the structural adjustment policies has servedto entrench poverty which is central to the experiences of women. Townsend (1993)argues that the government of Kenya has failed to alleviate the suffering of the poorbecause of the ambiguity of both the definition and measurement of poverty. Thegovernment has continued to stress distributions of income rather than reducing inequalitybetween the rich and poor through the redistribution of income and wealth (p. 174).Even though the women want to give their children and daughters in particulareducational opportunities denied them, the demands on women are overwhelming. Theirattempts to cope with the physical and monetary demands of their labour may also188influence negatively (a) women’s health, (b) girls’ education, and (c) family welfare ofwomen’s dependents.Women’s HealthThe increasing intensification ofwomen’s work has had a profound impact on theirhealth. Some women who participated in this study are physically ill due to carrying heavyloads to and from far away market places. Mwelu is suffering from severe lower backand leg pains. She cannot carry heavy loads on her back and has excruciating pains whenshe bends. This is very hard on Mwelu because most of the women’s work in the ruralareas involves long hours of bending while planting, weeding, and watering vegetables. Inaddition, Akamba women carry heavy loads such as water, firewood, maize and beans ontheir backs. Worse still is the fact that Mwelu cannot afford to see a doctor. Thefollowing interview excerpt can give us a glimpse of how Mwelu’s income-generatingactivities have combined with her domestic roles to contribute to her present condition.MN: What have you been doing to support your family?Mw: I have been selling food stuffs. I have been buying green vegetables, loquatsand bananas. If I cut a green banana bunch and keep it to ripen, I would go toMavivye (about 20 kilometres away) market, where I used to take the bananas,green vegetables and other fruits. I would sell all those things and buy food in themarket because food is cheaper in that market than in other markets and I wouldgo home carrying a lot of food to last us at least a week. I used to come back andwork on my plot (shamba) the whole of that week since I would have enough foodfor that week. If there was a “naked” child, and those days clothes were cheap, Iwould also buy them clothes in the same market and I would come home and workfor a week on my shamba until Monday, the market day. I would go back onMonday to go and sell.MN: Is that market better than the Nunguni one?Mw: Yes. I liked the Mavivye market because food was cheap. At that time a kiloof maize was a shilling. Before then we used to buy a kilo of maize for a ten cents.You see if I sell those few things, I cannot afford to buy food at Nunguni but if Igo to Mavivye, I could buy more food there, enough for a week. That is what Ihave been doing.189MI’I: What are you doing now?Mw: I just work on my shamba because my back and legs have been paining forquite sometime now. I cannot carry anything. Walking is a big problem for me. Icannot walk for a long distance on foot and I cannot bend to work in theshamba anymore.MN: You used to carry heavy loads?Mw: Yes, and maybe the pains are related to that. I don’t know but I think itcould be because I used to go carrying things and I would come back homecarrying things. I used to carry a lot of things and the place is very far. The thingsI used to carry were way over my carrying capacity. Before this I used to workin my plotlshamba and plant vegetables which I would sell. I do not go to theshamba any more, I can’t really do much because of the pains..MN: How do you make some money now that you don’t go to the marketanymore?Mw: I have concentrated on participating in these women’s self-help groups. Wecontribute 30/= or 20/= and so when it is my turn, if one of my children is naked(without clothes), I buy them clothes and whatever else they need, if I can afford it(Interview, July 1994).Mwelu points out that she cannot afford to pay a private practitioner. Ideally, she issupposed to be referred from the District hospital to the Kenyatta national hospital whereshe can see a specialist at government-subsidized consultation rates. Unfortunately, thegovernment has reduced funding on health services, resulting in very poor workingconditions for the doctors, most of whom have subsequently left public hospitals andjoined private practice. Mwelu cannot afford to pay for private practice service.Mw: My whole body aches but the pain started on my leg at the knee and it wentup to my lower back. In the beginning I went to see Dr. Kioko who treated mewhen he was practicing at Salama (a nearby town) but he has since moved toNairobi (120 kilometres away).MN: Why haven’t you gone to see him again?Mw: I really cannot afford to go and see him. He is very expensive and he is inNairobi (Interview, July 1994).Ngina, from Kyandue, who talked of having “sacrificed” herself for her children’s sake,mentioned that she too suffers from lower back pains (Interview, July 1994).190Women in the rural areas are forced to neglect their health as they get engrossed inmeeting their families’ material and emotional needs. Women will ignore symptoms ofsickness because they cannot afford to take time off to see a doctor and because theirhealth is not a priority in the competition for the limited income they earn. Even in timesof food shortages, women tend to eat less. Women’s poor health serves as a great blowto their dependents as they become unable to perform their roles as food producers,income earners and care givers.Girls’ EducationWomen of Kilome division are certainly playing a major role in the education oftheir children. As Ngina points out, “participation of mothers is a crucial factor in theeducation of their children” (Interview, July 1994). However, as the demand for women’slabour increases some women might have to relegate some of their domestic chores totheir daughters. This might mean that these girls will miss school to take care of theyounger siblings while the mother takes her wares to the market or she works as a casual.Some parents might also withdraw their daughters from school or fail to take them toschool and send them to work as domestics to help support the family. Kamene andWanza, two women who participated in this study, left school in Standard 3 to work asdomestics to help feed their families (Interview, July, 1994). Kamene now struggles toeducate her four children with the money she gets from her tomato business. She hasexpressed deep concern at her inability to meet her children’s basic needs and educationalneeds. Many girls have joined the growing number of child labourers. Child labour is stillrampant in Kenya, with some working children as young as six years old. The little money191children earn can never compensate for the environmental hazards they face or the lifelong impact on their growth, especially their psychological, emotional and educationaldevelopment (UNICEF/GOF: Children and Women in Kenya: A situation Analysis, 1992).Beth’s daughters too have had to leave school to work as domestics because Bethcould not afford to pay school fees for them or take them to a college to acquireemployable and/or income-generating skills. Most domestic workers, particularlychildren, are the most easily exploited of all workers. There are no set salaries fordomestics. The salaries to be paid depends on the whims of the employer. Childlabourers are likely to be sexually exploited by their employers and others. Theseencounters lead to teenage pregnancies.Impact on the Welfare ofthe FamilyWhen a woman is ill, the whole family suffers because of the multiplicity of rolesthat a woman perfonns. The repercussions are phenomenal. In the Ndegwa Report(1991) it is argued that “the quality of a country’s labour force is to a large extentdependent on women’s performance as mothers, the custodians of family health andwelfare, especially that of young children, aged and sick” (p.229). The illness of a motherlimits educational opportunities of her female children who are called upon to take up theirmother’s roles as food producer, cbildrearer and caregiver. Female children have alsobecome child labourers so that they can earn money to support their siblings.Because of the multiplicity of women’s roles in the family, particularly as foodproducer, prolonged illness will subject the family to food insecurity. Women, however,192have organized themselves in women’s self-help groups to support each other in thechanging social, economic and political context ofKenya society.ConclusionsThe women’s discourse on education shows women’s awareness of the importanceof the education ofwomen and their agency in providing educational opportunities to theirdaughters. The women aspire to give their daughters education that allows them toparticipate in the public sphere as do their male counterparts. Kilome women know thatwomen are not just “helpers” ofmen but are active participants in shaping the lives of theirchildren. They want their daughters to be self-reliant and have economic independence.The women want their daughters to make choices and own and control property like theirmale counterparts. They are aware of the barriers that women face in their efforts to attaineducational opportunities. Consequently, they have become their daughters’ interventionagents.The women are engaged in a multiplicity of labour-intensive activities in order toearn an income in a gendered economy. Their income-generating activities are limited andtheir efforts to provide their children with educational opportunities are impeded by thehigh school fees that are charged, particularly at the secondary level. The introduction ofthe cost sharing strategy has had negative impact on the education of girls. In addition,the intensification of women’s labour is detrimental to their health and has negativeimpact on the education of girls. However, in the midst of these harsh conditions, womenhave reached out to traditional principles of organizing and are working as a collective in193the form of self-help groups to afford their children educational opportunities. Thesewomen’s self-help groups are discussed in the next chapter.194Chapter 8“Help Me So That I May Help You”: Women’s Self-Help MovementThe women’s discourse on education shows that their educational and economicopportunities are limited by cultural, social and economic factors. It also shows women’sagency in their effort to offer their children, and daughters in particular, educationalopportunities. Mothers have been working very hard to give their daughters educationalopportunities because they know the importance of women’s education. The womenpointed out that they left school against their wishes. They lacked intervention agents tosupport them in their struggle to obtain educational skills. The women are doingwhatever is possible to give their children educational opportunities.It is evident that these women have become intervention agents for their children’sand particularly girls’ education. They realize that without education, their children, anddaughters in particular, will not be able to support their own families and themselves.They want their daughters to be self-reliant and to break out of the poverty into whichthey were born. The women’s efforts are not recognized and they are not receivingsupport to intervene in their children’s education in more effective and in meaningfulways. The government does not seem to be aware of, or does not recognize, theincreasing burden that women and parents are bearing to educate their children. Theimplementation of the structural adjustment programmes are hurting the poor, and thesehappen to be women and their dependents. These programmes have a negative impact onthe health of the women and on the education of girls in particular. Even though the195women have “sacrificed” themselves to offer their children educational opportunitiesdenied them, the demands on the women are overwhelming. The women’s efforts arehampered by cultural, economic, environmental and political factors.However, as Dei (1995) observed, “village women have been known to rely onlong established traditions of community solidarity, based on traditional principles ofgroup mutuality to help to relieve the economic pain of households” (p. 12). In Kenya,women’s self-help groups have flourished as a means for women to cope creativelywith the sweeping postindependence economic and social change and with theexigencies of a neocolonial political economy. . . . The practice of cooperation and thediscourse of communality surviving from precolonial times animates the women’scontemporary self-help groups. (Stamp, 1995, p. 73)Women’s groups in the traditional setting became necessary as a collective geared atidenti1ing a task and putting their resources together to work on the task. “The concept ofgroups was based on mutual social responsibility, accountability and reciproci’ (Republic ofKenya: Women’s Bureau, 1992). Women’s self-help groups in Ukambani are similar to thetraditional work parties or myethya (Hill, 1991).The majority of present day women’s groups are selfhelp groups. The originalobjectives and aims have changed to accommodate the rapid political and socio-economicchanges. Women’s groups are seen as a force to improve the position of rural women inKenya since they contribute substantially to raising standards of living and to bringinginfrastructure to rural areas. In 1992, there are about 23,614 women’s groups in Kenya([JNICEF/GOF, 1992).As noted earlier, the government requires that women’s self-help groups beregistered with the Women’s Bureau, Ministry of Social Services. The registration1%enhances government control over the political activities of these groups. Women’sgroups are not supposed to engage in politics particularly aligning themselves withopposition parties.Many groups have registered themselves with the Women’s Bureau to legalizetheir group meetings since the government has made it illegal to hold a gathering withouta permit from the divisional president’s office. Women’s self-help groups that areregistered with the Women’s Bureau also stand a better chance of getting aid fromInternational Development Agencies channeled through the Women’s Bureau. TheWomen’s Bureau was set up in 1975 to co-ordinate government policies towards womenthrough the “Women’s Group Programme.” Feldman (1983) points out that the Women’sBureau serves to legitimate certain kinds of “special treatment” for women on the groundsthat women have been disadvantaged in the past. These special programmes for womenare initiated, controlled or coordinated by government agencies, while women’s self-helpgroups’ activities are initiated and controlled by the womenDuring the research period, I worked with three women’s self-help groups, namelyKithumba, Kyandue and Salama women’s self-help groups in Kilome division. Thesegroups were set up by the women from these villages to address their own identifiedconcerns. Kyandue women’s group is the oldest among the three groups.Kithumba and Salama women’s groups were formed during the research process by thewomen who participated in this study.197Kyandue Women’s Self-Help GroupKyandue village has one major women’s self-help group which is, as noted earlier,divided into sections A and B (Rachel and Meli, Interview, July 1994). The groups operateas a single group or as two entities depending on the nature of the tasks. The group functionsas a single group when they engage in community work such as in the building of gabions.One section ofthis group is composed ofwomen married to men belonging to the Ambua clan.As noted earlier, this group was formed out of a tragedy and its primary role is to formalizethose marriages in the Ambua clan that had not been formalized and to ensure that futuremaniages carried out in this clan are formalized.In the traditional setting, the process of “sealing” or formalizing the marriagerelationship was long. It began when a young man and his family were accepted as suitablesuitors by the bride’s father, the bride and her mother. Two goats (male and female) were sentto the in-laws-to be. Along with them went a leather strap (Muthiani, 1973, p. 26). Other giftsfollowed but the most important ones were the two goats. This was done by the young man’sparents and relatives. In Kyandue, the women are taking charge of the situation and ensuringthat the marriage relationships are sealed not only to prevent burial disputes but also to ensurethat their children’s lineage is not threatened. Rachel had the following to say about her group.MN: You told me that you sell firewood to earn some income and you alsomentioned that you are the secretary to one of the self-help group. What doesyour group do?Ra: As you may remember, I told you that we try to formalize marriages as theyshould have been done traditionally by pay bridewealth (kuasan’ya). People havestopped paying bridewealth as they used to and this is bringing a lot of problemstoday.MN: Why would you want to pay bridewealth for each other?‘Kuasan’ya is not the equivalent of “paying” bridewealth. The Kainba word for “paying” is “kuiva” or“kuthooa” which is different from kuasan’ya.198Ra: What made us to insist on formalizing marriages is because one womanmarried in our clan died and there was a big problem because her husband had noteven taken the two goats to her parents. So, her people wanted to buiy her andour man also wanted to bury her and here were the children caught in between. Itwas very sad and so anyway, our clan had to contribute money and items to taketo the deceased woman’s parents so that we could bury her. When we lookedaround, we realized that our deceased co-wife was not the only one whosemarriage had not been formalized. In fact, I was the first one to have my marriageformalized by this women’s self-help group. I was married in 1977 and the twogoats that are taken to the bride’s parents were taken there in 1989.. how manyyears are those?MN: Over ten years.Ra: They (the group) said that they were not going to stay with somebody’sdaughter without having gone to see her parents. It is also a sign of respect to thewoman’s parents. Anyway, I was the first one to benefit from that process. Themembers of the group bought six goats, maize, beans and other items to take tomy parents (kumova mukwa).MN: Did your husband participate?Ra: Yes, what could he do?MN: Do the other men and the spouses of the women in the group come along?Ra: Yes, they come along. The whole process is taken very seriously (interview,July 1994).The group engages in many other activities besides formalizing marriages. Mcli is the overallchairperson of the Kyandue group. She notes that the group’s activities are also gearedtowards increasing food security and providing support for women and their children as wellas increasing women’s income. The group members plants bananas for each other.Me: I am the [chairman] sic of the group. Since we got together we decided toplant bananas so that when it gets dry and there is a food shortage (famine) we cancook for our children these bananas. When the rains fail women experience a lotof difficulties trying to feed their children. You have to have money to buy foodand sometimes you can have the money and then you find that there is no food inthe shops. I am sure you can remember the previous famine which people branded‘I’m dying with money in my pocket’ (nikw’a ngwete). Also, you know howbananas are in demand these days? So women can also sell these bananas whenthey get ready (Interview, July 1994).199Rachel, who is an official of Kyandue women’s self-help group, points out that its mottois “Help me so that I may help you,” and this has worked very well. She has benefitedfrom the bananas that she was helped by this group to plant (Interview, July 1994).At the time of this meeting Kyandue women’s groups had 3,000 Kenya shillings($100) in their saving account. They felt that their group did not have a large savingbecause members are needy/poor and also the group did not have a sponsor to assist it getfhnds to boost its projects from the Women’s Bureau or any aid organization. Meli notesthat:Me: So far we have only 3000 Kenya shillings in our account and we will startbuying maize which is being sold cheaply now because people are harvesting. Wewill keep this maize until the dry season when the prices will go up and then wewill sell it and all the profit will go to our account. Our group weak, it is notwealthy (nikyonzu) because we have not found a way to get the money that manywomen’s self help groups are getting. Right now we make our money by hiringout our services. We carry bricks for people, we till the land, we carry firewood.We also pay 20 Kenya shillings each member monthly. We are paid about 300Kenya shiffings to carry 3,000 bricks.MN: How do people get to know about your services?Me: By word of mouth.. that is how we get hired (Interview, July 1994).Meli’s self-help group has not attracted aid from the various government or nongovernmental agencies as some groups have. As Udvardy (1988) observes, the process ofnominating a women’s self-help group for a grant from the Women’s Bureau is long and Iwould say, corrupt. Often there are more groups nominated than there are fi.mdsavailable.The Kyandue women’s group creates possibilities and offers options to itsmembers. For example, they were able to save a widow her piece of land which she wasabout to sell in order to get money to bury her husband. The group advised her against200selling the land, gave her a soft loan and worked out with her a better way of repaying theloan without losing her land. Meli observed that:Me: We contribute 20 Kenya shillings every month for our joint account and weare 48 members. We have used the money to get a certificate (170 Kenyashillings) from the Ministry of Social Services. We use the rest of the money tosupport our members in different ways. For example, one woman who lost herhusband and wanted to sell a piece of land, we gave her the 2000 Kenya shillingsshe needed so that she wouldn’t sell the land (soil). We helped her and that is whyour account went down. We saw that land is hard to come by and therefore wediscussed with her about better measures to undertake other than that one ofselling land.MN: How will you get this money back?Me: She told us that she will sell a cow that she has and give back something tothe group because even one 1000 Kenya shillings one can buy a calf. This is inline with our goals because when we started the group, the goal and purpose wasto support each other so that our women do not have to sell valuable things likeland when faced with emergencies such as death in the family. We also help to payschool fees. Recently we contributed 1000 Kenya shillings for a member to takeher child back to school after the child had been sent home to collect school feesbalance (Interview, July 1994).The availability ofbananas in Kyandue is a new phenomenon. The women told methat prior to the introduction of the self-help group, many women did not own a singlebanana plant. During my fieldwork, I learnt from the women that the production ofbananas in this village had already attracted banana buyers from other divisions andlocations outside Kilome division. This has not only increased food security in this areabut also increased the women’s income.The women’s group’s ability to adapt and respond to the changing social, economic,environmental and political changes is a great asset. Meli feels that women can play a centralrole in the education oftheir daughters by expanding the vision ofthe women’s self-help group.201MN: What do you think women should do to educate their children?Me: I think that women must come together (tukwatane muvai2 wa aka), uniteand make contributions for each other (kusangulanila) and educate their childrenbecause if we rely on men our children will not succeed in education. We can alsounite to plant crops that might help us. Like in our group we plant bananas andcabbages and these have helped us a lot (Interview, July 1994).Manduu, too feels that women should make girls’ education every woman’s business. Shehad the following to say.I think the only thing we can do is for us mothers to unite (twithiwe na ngwatanio)so that if our daughters pass, we ensure that that the girl does not sit at homebecause of school fees. The child’s education should not just be the individualfamily’s responsibility (mwana usu ndethinya nyinya na ithe eweka) so that we canbegin to educate our daughters. We mothers should be in a position to do so.This unity I’m talking about is like a women’s self-help group because men don’tlike that kind of unity (Interview, July 1994).Kithumba Women’s Self-Help GroupThe need to form Kithumba women’s self-help group came from the women’srealization that they could achieve more if they worked as a group. The impetus alsocame from Kithumba women realizing what Kyandue women’s self-help group was doingand aimed at doing. Kithumba women identified poverty as the single major “ailment”common to almost all women in this village. A women’s group was seen as necessary toimprove women’s economic and political status. This would enable the group to offertheir children, and female children in particular, educational opportunities. Catherineobserved the following:What I think we need to do is start a women’s self-help group so that we can beginto talk about the problems that we face as a group. So, if it is the education of ourdaughters, we as mothers should all feel responsible and plan on how to deal withthe problem. Women are very innovative and I think we can collaborate to addressour girls’ educational needs. We need to challenge each other and be each others’eyes (Interview, July 1994).2M means a specific group with special characteristics202The group plans to provide credit to its members, some of who are petty traderswho cannot be given credit by financial institutions because rural women do not havecollateral. The women have started buying bar soap at wholesale prices and selling it atretail prices but one shilling cheaper than in the shops to attract customers. The profit iskept in the women’s self-help groups saving account. There is no maize mill in the areaand the women are aiming at purchasing one which would bring them more income, givethem more options and give them more resources to support their children, and daughtersin particular, to acquire meaningful education (Ndoti, Interview, August 1994). Thegroup would like to plant green vegetables if they could get help to drill a borehole3whichwould have enough water to enable them to plant kale (sukumawiki), French beans forexport and tomatoes and cabbages for the local market and their own consumption(Mulee, Interview August 1994). The aim is for the women in the group to support eachother to become self-reliant. The women want to be able to take control of theirchildren’s needs as illustrated by the following interview excerpt with Mulee when I askedher about government bursaries.Mu: I understand that the government helps. I don’t know how because for allmy children I have sent a report to the government office here at Kilome. I havetaken the report to the Assistant Chief to try to get a bursary for my daughter andI went to all those offices they asked me to go to but I never got anything. I reallydon’t know how the fonns and funds disappear (ndyisi syiisa kwaia va). I don’tever get any clear information on what happens to them and so I have given upwith that avenue and said that let it go whichever way it will go (ithi oundu yainethi). Otherwise I don’t really follow up on what the govermuent really does.What I always pray for is to get money, money that I can work or sweat for, if Icould get about 50,000 Kenya shillings as capital I could do a lot of things suchthat by the end of the month I could earn about 3,000 shillings, you know thatwould be like a salary just equivalent to that I would have gotten if I had gone toschool and become a primary school teacher? Knowing very well that what you3A borehole is a deep well that is drilled using machines.203are doing you will get about three thousand shillings. That would be a salary andto get that you need to have about 50,000 Kenya shillings, and you know what todo. I want to be able to plan for my children knowing that I am able to supportthem myself and not relying on handouts. What women need is to be supportedto support themselves and their children on a daily basis. That is what we shouldaim for, to be self-reliant (Interview, July 1994).The women also expressed the need to use their group meetings to discuss issuesthat affect them. These include violence against women and women’s health. Wediscussed AIDSIHIV which the women felt was extremely important to discuss as itaffects women, and most women do not have radios to listen to for current infonnation.More importantly, the women, as members of a self-help group had become comfortablewith each other to ask questions and to share information. The women noted that there isa big gap between themselves, policy makers and those who claim to speak on their behalf.They observed that elite women who claim to speak for women do not have a clue of howwomen’s life is at the grassroots level. “We have never seen any of them come to thevillage to talk with us here. They know where women can be found, we are in thevillages!” (Manduu, Interview, July 1994)The women discussed how they are treated by doctors when they go to hospitals.They noted that most doctors don’t seem to respect them at all as women and mothers.They lamented that many doctors do not treat women with dignity and tend to treat themas though they are “dirty.” The women would like to go to hospitals with themselvesnew needles to ensure their safety (Kithumba Women group, August 12, 1994).Collaboration between the women and increased income was seen as the only possibilityof achieving these goals.204Salama Women’s Self- Help GroupPrior to the inception of the research project, Salama did not have a women’s group.As Beth points out, people in Salama, as in other urban settings, lead “atomistic” lives.MN: Do you ever talk or discuss your experiences and concerns with other womenin the town? Do you have women’s self-help group or a forum within which youcan air your concerns?Be: Did I tell you that here we live as single entities? We keep our problems toourselves. Each one ofus carries their own “cross” alone.MN: Why is life like that here?Be: In this town people live by themselves as entities, everyone for themselves.The town has good people.. I will build and demolish (niaka na ndiomboa). If theyhad a leader to tell them to organize those who would listen and pay heed andthose who wouldn’t, we wouldn’t talk about them because in other towns theyhave leaders, committees of women and men who lead in bad and good times butthis one does not have such a committee. In my understanding, I feel that if it(Salama town) had such a committee there would be some rules that we couldfollow since we are residents here and we would be different and have some plansor you plan for yourselves. Now there is nothing like that. Everyone lives hereand does whatever they like. Nobody cares about what the other does, you rely onyourself. If you sell tomatoes like I do, you go ahead with your tomato business towherever you’ll emerge (ukaumbukila kula ukaumbukila). Do you want us to tellyou that we do anything as a group while we do nothing? (Interview, July 1994).It is understandable why Salama town did not have a women’s self-help groupprior to my entry into the site. The individualistic lifestyle that women and men lead inSalama is characteristic ofurban areas. Nevertheless, ten women of Salama, together withthree men, noted the importance of a group in addressing issues confronting them.Among their pressing needs was girls’ education. Beth points out that girls are leavingschool because of poverty.Be: Do you know that it is the money problem that is eliminating each one (herdaughters) of them out of school? Now if that happens to each one of them, theresult is that they don’t even have a place of their own. If you have children andall those problems, it is hard. Do you see? (Interview, July 1994)205All the members of the group are engaged in some form of business, but they point outthat the business is bad because they don’t have enough capital and therefore they do nothave enough money to meet the needs of their children’s educational needs.Do you know that each one of us, the business that we are doing, small as it is, if ithad stock, we wouldn’t be lamenting or struggling the way we are doing rightnow. Shortage of money is what is making us cry for help (kukaya). Everyone ofus here is saying that their child got to this grade and did not move on because ofschool fees. If the business that we are doing was more profitable, we would takepart of that and take it to school to pay school fees but we are unable to meetthese needs. Again we don’t know how to support each other (Kamene,Interview, July 1994).The women pointed out that it is important for people not to forget their traditionalprinciples of collaboration. They pointed out that, traditionally, people worked togetherfor the betterment of the community. There was an emphasis on collaboration asexemplified in saying such as “one finger cannot kill a louse.” The women felt that theformation ofwomen’s self-help in Salama was long overdue.When the group was formed, each member was asked to pay a membership fee ofKsh 140 (CDN 4.50) within a period of one week. The women decided to build a kiosk forselling boiled eggs and cold drinks in front of the market. The kiosk bore the name of thegroup--Salama Women Development Group. This small progress attracted many women tothe group. Membership in the group was dependent upon the consensus ofall group members.The Salama women’s group has big goals. The group intends to buy a maizemill which would bring them a better income if well managed. Salama has only one maize milland this forces women to wait in long cues for hours to have their maize milled. The womenfeel that a maize mill would improve their individual living conditions and enable them to offertheir children better educational and economic opportunities in Kenya206Successes and LimitationsA large number ofwomen’s self-help groups that are started disband within a shortperiod of time. Kyandue women’s self-help group has been in operation for about twoyears and its achievements are concrete. For Kithumba and Salama women’s groups themomentum is high. Kithumba women had completed the handicrafts they were makingduring the first two months of the group’s inception. The women made traditionalKenyan baskets, sisal ropes and table clothes. The ropes were bought by members forcanying loads and tethering livestock. A certain percentage of the sales was saved in thewomen’s saving account.The Salama women’s self-help group was diversifying its business very rapidly.The group sought registration with the Women’s Bureau and they have already opened asaving account with Kenya Commercial Bank. The latest report that I received from thesewomen at the end ofMarch 1995 is that the group has hired a woman to sell in their kioskand they have saved over 7000 Kenya shillings ($ 300).One major limitation faced by the women’s groups is patronage by men. Thepatron-client relationship can be formed between the women’s self-help groups and certainmales, affecting the independence and success of the women’s groups. Udvardy (1988)notes incidents in Kilifi where men involved themselves with women’s self-help groupsbecause of the greater access women’s self-help groups have to development aid.Furthermore, the women not only constitute a necessary component but also a convenientlabour force (p.223).207Women’s self-help groups’ autonomy is limited by politicians who want to controlthe groups for their political ends. For instance, Kithumba and Salama women’s groupswere experiencing pressure from the local ruling party representative who vowed toalienate the groups’ activities if they were found to be supporters of opposition parties.The representative claimed that these two groups were formed to solicit votes for anopposition candidate in the 1997 general elections.Politicians’ interference with women’s self-help groups limits women’s autonomyand also limits the people the group can call upon to support them in their projects or for afinds drive. Many women’s groups do not want to be declared “controversial” or to havepolitical afliliations with opposition groups because that limits aid to these groups fromthe government or from international aid organizations who fear being accused ofinterfering in a country’s internal affairs.The activities of these women’s self-help groups in Kilome division are limited bythe capital they can raise through their income-generating activities and their monthlycontributions. As the women observed, they have not been able to attract any grants fromthe government or aid organizations. The women need finds to purchase a mill toincrease their income to meet the educational needs of their children. They also wouldlike support to drill a borehole in order to get water for irrigation. All these activities needcredit to which the women have no access. The women are not aware of how they canaccess aid money that has been made available to other women’s self-help groups to fundsimilar projects. In addition, they do not have information on accessing credit from208financial institutions. Nevertheless, it is difficult for these women to get loans fromfinancial institutions without collateral which they do not have.The women’s self-help groups’ potential for addressing issues of concern tothemselves and their children is impeded by internal and external factors. The paradox isthat the women’s self-help groups are supposed to be apolitical and yet to have politicalaffiliations with the ruling party However, women’s self-help groups need autonomy intheir efforts to meet the educational needs of their children. Any support given to them bygovernment or by non-governmental organizations should be “unattached.” The supportshould not be for “development” projects as conceptualized by the government ordevelopment organizations. As Dei (1995) argues, “development should speak to thesocial, economic, political, spiritual and cosmological aspects of local peoples’ lives, aswell as their specific needs and aspirations. It should reflect the lived realities, goals andaspirations of grassroots people” [women] (p. 16).Exclusiveness of Women’s Self-Help GroupsAs a participant in the women’s group I learnt that, although membership inwomen’s groups is open to all women, the conditions of membership excludes a largenumber of women. For example, some women are not able to keep up with theweekly/biweekly or monthly contributions that are expected of members. Rose has limitedher participation in women’s self-help groups because of this factor. In fact she droppedout of Kithumba women’s group as she could not afford to make the weeklycontributions.209MN: Are you a member of any women’s group?Ro: I belong to one group called Maka Weka (worry alone). I try not to join manygroups because it is expensive to do so and my income is almost nothing. Thegroup I participate in we fill the canyon/ravine with stones and we are given foodonce in a while. The group is associated with the Catholic church. We also havehad to pay 80 Kenya shillings to pay a watchman to look after the maize.MN: How do you get money?Ro: I only get money if I have a banana bunch that I ripen and sell it. This happensonce in a very long time (Interview, August 1994).Kasika from Kyandue had a similar reason for not joining Kyandue women’s self-helpgroups. She pointed out that “one needs land and money to participate in these groups. Ihave very little land and no space to plant bananas and so I couldn’t join this groupalthough it is good for me to do so but I cannot afford it” (Interview, July 1994). Thegovernment’s demand for women’s self-help groups to be registered with the Women’sBureau increases the pressure for women’s self-help groups to raise money. To register,each group must pay 170 Kenya shillings for a certificate. When there is an harambee (afhnd-raising drive), women’s groups have to contribute a certain amount. When I was inKenya, each women’s self-help group in Kilome division was expected to raise 1,500Kenya shillings towards an harambee that was to be chaired by the Minister of ForeignAffairs. All this money had to come from the women. As Ngina observed, “a womanmust find a way of making her own money because if she always has to beg from herhusband to make these contributions, he will not tolerate that begging and soon he’ll askher to leave the groups.” (Interview, July 1, 1994).The membership fee for the Salama women’s self-help group also is too high formany women to afford. The membership fee is 130 Kenya shillings The women insistedthat this figure was the basic amount they needed to start a small business. However,210Kasika, Rose and Kadongo noted that these rates are too high for them because they donot have a source of income and do not have a piece of land where they could plantvegetables for income. Present day women’s self-help groups exclude the poorest womenwho need the group’s help the most (JASPA, 1981). The women’s desire not to rely ongovernment handouts for their projects unfortunately eliminates those poor women whocannot afford to raise the membership fees.ConclusionsIn this chapter I sought to highlight the potential and limitations for women’sagency as a collective in the form of women’s self-help groups. Women’s self-help groupsare ubiquitous throughout rural Kenya and have been formed on traditional principles ofmutual interdependence. As Stamp (1995) observes, these groups flourish as a means forwomen to cope creatively with sweeping postindependence economic and social changeand with the exigencies of neocolonial political economy.These groups have the potential to address issues concerning women’s educationsince the groups are based on the practice of cooperation and communality. As thewomen observed, girls in Kilome division continue to experience gender-relateddifficulties in accessing educational opportunities. The women know the importance ofeducation and aspire to give their daughters educational skills to enable them to participatein the modern economy. They realize that their efforts to educate their children are limitedby lack of resources. On the other hand they see their potential as a group in supportingeach other in their efforts to meet their children’s needs. They recognize the importanceof identif’ing issues that concern them and planning ways to achieve solutions. The211women’s self-help groups that I worked with have made great progress towards achievingtheir goals. However, these groups’ activities are limited by lack of credit. The women’sincome-generating activities could be improved if they had capital. However, womencannot get loans from any financial institutions because they do not have collateral. Thewomen see their unity as a collateral which they can utilize to solicit financial support inthe form of loans in a similar fashion as the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. The (3rameenBank gives loans to landless, assetless women who form a group that acts as a collateral.The group ensures that a member who takes out a loan from the bank repays it (IDEAS,1991).Present day women’s self-help groups, however, tend to eliminate the poor womenwho do not have access to land and money to make the weekly contributions. Thesegroups are also affected by political interference that limits their activities and affiliations.However, as Maina-Ahlberg (1991) observes, dominated women’s self-help groups inrural Kenya are still an important resource for change. Women have continued to exploitthe power of collective action to counteract negative forces within the system even aftercolonial forces had disrupted their culture and collective organization.Continued collective participation of women has not just offered a link between thepast and the present, it constitutes a process of consciously selecting positivecultural traits and adapting them to meet new challenges. It is perhaps onlythrough such dynamic participation that issues which evoke resistance can becomean integral part of the collective activity and social order. (Ahlberg-Maina, 1991,p. 187)Stamp (1986) argues that women’s self-help groups are not simply cooperativedevelopment projects, or strategies for coping with change, rather, they are vitalorganizations for resistance to exploitation. Women have become agents of resistance and212change in the maelstrom of contemporary Kenyan affairs. For instance, some women inthis study noted that they have shifted their labour to subsistence agriculture because theyhave more control over the food products than in cash crop productions. Their agencyresides in their communal endevours and is constantly reinvented in the context of politicaland social changes (Stamp 1995).213CHAPTER 9Conclusions And Implications For PolicyIn this chapter I examine the public discourse on education of women and menarticulated in Kenyan policy documents in light of the women’s private discourse oneducation constructed from the interviews with the rural women of Kilome division. Ijuxtapose the women’s perception of themselves and the purpose of women’s educationwith the envisioning of women held by predominantly male policy makers. The women’sdiscourse shows a strong belief in the relationship between education and economicdevelopment. While the women identify the gender-related factors that limit theirparticipation in education and in the economy, they do not image out systematic ways ofchallenging the institutionalized structures that continue their subordination. I discuss theimplications of the policies on women’s education. Finally, I examine the implications ofthis study for policy and research.Research ProblemThe public discourse regarding the purpose of the education of women and men inKenya is set out by predominantly male politicians, and policy makers, and is influenced byinternational development agencies such as the World Bank. In the formulation ofeducational policies, gender issues are either framed in ways that confine women’s agencyto the private sphere and fail to challenge the gender and power factors that impedeswomen’s agency in the public sphere alongside men. Consequently, the factors that limit214women’s participation in education and in the public sphere remain invisible. Theimplementation of the ensuing seemingly gender-neutral policies has negative implicationsfor women’s education and reinforces existing gender inequities in Kenya.Public And Private Discourses On EducationAn examination of the public discourse on education articulated in policydocuments produced in Kenya in the last three decades since independence (1964-1993)shows that gender has been framed in ways that limit women’s agency in the Kenyasociety. In addition, the gender and power-related barriers that impede women’sparticipation are not addressed.The policy framings that have limited women’s access to education include (a)gender neutrality, (b) perception of women as reproducers and men as producers, (c)educational policies produced by predominantly male policy makers, and (d) nationalistpolicies of equal education and economic opportunities that failed to address gender andclass issues.While some policy documents assumed a gender neutral perspective in theformulation of educational policies, others limited women’s agency to the private spherewhere they are “biologically responsible for bearing and rearing of children.” Other policydocuments recommended policies that would exclude an overwhelmingly majority ofwomen. As Staudt and Parpart (1989) posit, women’s seemingly personal, everydayexperiences are structured by policies most of which are outwardly “gender-neutral” butare in fact experienced differently by men and women. Therefore, women, who have beensystematically relegated to a private non-economic sphere created in the colonial era, and215inherited, maintained and developed in the postcolonial era have had different experiencesof these policies than do men. These women’s agency has continued to be marginalizedinto the private sphere. The Kenyan state, and the economy, education and politicalsystems it inherited and developed, are overwhelmingly controlled by men, and thiscontrol has translated into laws, policies and spending patterns which not coincidentallybenefit men. Male dominance in the public and private sphere impedes women’s attemptsto create possibilities for their children in Kenya today.Staudt (1987) points out that nationalist movements, by their very nature, focus onthe struggle for independence, rather than on gender or class interests. The goals of thenationalist movement in Kenya were no different. At independence, the demands of theAfricans for equal educational and employment opportunities were paramount. Thesedemands were reflected in the educational policy recommendations of the first KenyaEducation Commission, commonly known as the Ominde Report of 1964. The emphasisin the Ominde report was equity for the “African race” that had been discriminated againstin accessing opportunities in the colonial period. Policies were recommended bypredominantly male policy makers and implemented to ensure that the image reflected inpublic institutions and in the formal employment sector was African. This was madepossible through the implementation of the Africanization policy designed to Africanizeformal institutions in Kenya. No equivalent gender equity policies were provided toaddress women’s unequal access to educational and economic opportunities initiated bythe colonial administration which provided education along both race and gender lines.216At independence, few women got the opportunity to train for the high level skillsrequired for economic growth and Africanization of the formal employment sector. Thepolicy makers, predominantly men, certainly did not see women as major players in thepublic space of economic activity. By this time, women’s role in the public space wasinsignificant since colonial policies had succeeded in making the public sphere the world ofmen by confining women to the private sphere where they increasingly became dependenton men. The image or perception of men as “producers” and women as “reproducers”and dependents of men certainly influenced the policy makers who did not offer womenopportunities to acquire the high level skills needed to participate in the modern sector.Consequently, policy makers formulated policies that reinforced the legacy of women’slow participation in the public sphere which has been carried over to the present daywhere women form only 22% of the formal employment sector. The emphasis atindependence was, therefore, to address the race issue and educational policies wereformulated to “revolutionarize” the public sphere from a predominantly white male imageto a predominantly African male image. The assumed gender-neutral policies promotedand reinforced gender inequities in post-colonial Kenya.Since independence, much of the public discourse on education has emphasizedprovision of only basic education to women. Educational reports have emphasized therole of basic education for improving women’s productivity in the informal sector. Thepublic policy discourse also has emphasized basic education for enhancing women’sdelivery of gender-specific services as mothers, wives and child bearers and rearers. Thepublic discourse has continued to portray women as biologically responsible for bearing217and rearing ofchildren and therefore solely responsible for the reproductive labour. Policymakers have recommended that women be given basic education to help slow thepopulation growth in Kenya. This image of women as “biologically” responsible forchildbearing and rearing has made women targets of population control programmes andhas relieved men of responsibility over their role in procreation and has placed the entireburden and labour on the shoulders of women whose workloads have tremendouslyincreased. It is upon this logic that school girls who conceive while at school are sentaway from school without a hope of ever re-entering the school system.Rural women in this study emphasized the need for their daughters to acquirehigher educational skills that can afford them economic independence. The women wanttheir daughters to be able to participate in significant economic activities in the publicsphere. The women desire for their daughters an education that offers possibilities foreconomic independence and self-reliance. The women note that marriage is no longer asolution and that a woman can no longer depend on a man to meet the needs of her family.The rural women want their daughters to be able to lead less strenuous lives thanthemselves. They know that basic education has restricted their participation to theprivate sphere where they face enormous constraints in their efforts to provide the basicneeds for their children.The women in my study emphasized the need for their daughters to get educationthat can lead to paid employment. They see higher education as capable of giving theirdaughters the opportunity to enjoy what Patricia Mann (1995) refers to as socialenfranchisement of women. With social enfranchisement, the scope of women’s agency218changes as they enter the public sphere as economic and political agents alongside men.The women of Kilome want their daughters to be able to make individuated rationalchoices about their social, economic, and political destiny as do men. They want theirdaughters to be in a position to choose whether to get married or to remain single. Thewomen are opposed to their conditions of existence which are characterised bydependence, subservience and insignificant economic roles. They want their daughters toparticipate in the world of those who own and control property and are active participantsin the modern state (Staudt, 1987). The women are aware of how their agency to providefor their children has been limited by the sexual division of labour outside and withinprocreation and between procreation and production (Jaggar, 1983). These women,however, do not propose radical measures to address the structures that continue theirsubordination.The women’s discourse on the role of education in economic developmentsupports the policy discourse on the role of education in development. However, thewomen’s belief that education leads to paid employment in the modern sector is notsupported by most policy documents that emphasize education for rural development orvocationalization of education for self-employment. Their strong belief in the importanceof education is matched by the activities that women are engaged in as mothers to providetheir children educational opportunities. They are engaged in a multiplicity of activities toearn income to meet the ever-increasing costs of education instituted by the governmentthrough the cost-sharing policies.219The women in this study identify the factors that limited their participation ineducation as well as those that continue to limit girls’ educational opportunities in Kilome.They note that poverty is the major factor that is denying their children, and daughters inparticular, educational opportunities and thus limiting their chances of participating in theformal employment sector. The women do not question the structural factors that haveenabled the creation of the impoverished conditions they live in. Rather, the women aredetermined to “sacrifice” themselves to do their best to afford their daughters educationaland economic opportunities denied them by social, cultural, economic and politicalfactors. The women specify the following factors as limiting girls educationalopportunities: (a) high school fees, (b) gendered assumptions about girls’ sexuality--potential motherhood, and, (c) pregnancy rates among high primary and secondary levelgirls. While the women identify the impediments to girls’ educational opportunities, theydo not see the possibility of challenging the structures that maintain them.The increasing school fees being charged in secondary schools are a major barrierto girls’ education. As one participant pointed out, at present the education of girls isworse off than it was a decade ago. Fewer girls are able to complete the secondary levelof education. Mothers know that primary level education does not offer the resources thatenables one to be self-reliant. This is true of the experience of a good number of thewomen who participated in this study. They received seven years of primary educationbut have not found any meaningfhl income-generating opportunities.The barriers that women encounter in accessing educational opportunities werenot highlighted by policy makers, rather, the policy makers recommended an increase of220parents’ responsibility over the education of their children through the cost-sharingstrategy. The implementation of this policy has tremendously increased the demand forwomen’s material and physical labour and has had a negative impact on girls’ education.Women in this study noted that, more than ever before, more parents are having to makechoices about whose education is worth investing in. In almost all the cases, the choicehas been to invest in the education ofboys because girls are still considered “transient.”These rural women have “sacrificed” themselves to offer their daughterseducational opportunities to increase their employability. They see education as a toolthat their daughters could use to (a) to make choices--whether to get married or not, (b)to own property, and (c) support their mothers and families. These women’s work,however, has increased tremendously as they have picked up new roles and challenges in agendered economy.The women’s sources of income include employment as casual labourers, sale offarm produce, involvement in petty business and participation in women’s self-helpgroups. In addition, the women’s labour is required for food production, rearing andcaring of children, the sick and the aged. The policy discourse does not highlight howwomen’s labour subsidizes men and capital both of which enable men’s participation in acash economy, particularly in the formal employment sector. It does not indicate that thewomen’s unpaid labour is the backbone of economic development. Rural women providethe physical and material labour to build schools and provide the resources their childrenrequire to acquire education for participation in the economy. However, even one of themost gender-sensitive reports, the Ndegwa report (1991), offers little opportunity for221women’s unpaid labour in the private sphere to be equally matched with services by thestate to improve women’s living conditions. The Ndegwa report claimed that “women’scontribution to development has been widely acknowledged in official policy statementsand development literature” (p. 229). Women’s contribution to economic developmentdeserve more than acknowledgment. The mere disclosure of women’s contribution todevelopment does not address the subordination and domination that women experienceas well as the impoverished living conditions of most of the rural women. Meaningfiulacknowledgment should be matched with relevant policies to minimize women’sexploitation and to ease their daily struggle in their attempts to create possibilities for theirchildren.The Ndegwa report (1991) further claims that the government has directedsignificant efforts at measures for promoting women’s development and re-dressing thedisadvantages suffered by women during the colonial period especially due to the neglectof their education. Although participation of girls in the primary level has reached parityto that of boys, statistics show that the drop out rate of girls in this level is about 60%.Girls are still faced with a multitude of barriers in their attempt to access educationalopportunities. The government’s implementation of the cost-sharing strategy hasworsened the situation by increasing parents’ contributions to their children’s education.One participant observed that the implementation of the cost-sharing strategy has certainlyreduced the number of girls, particularly those from poor families in the rural areas, inachieving meaningful educational opportunities. The women’s selfsacrificial income222generating activities are limited. Most of the women cannot provide their girls meaningfuleducational opportunities.The Ndegwa report (1991) called on Kenya to implement the Convention of allForms of Discrimination against Women to which it is a signatory. It also called for anincrease in the number of opportunities for women in key positions in private and publicsectors of the formal employment sectors.1 Who benefits from such policies if they areimplemented? Such policies benefit a small number of women and excludes theoverwhelming majority of rural women and ordinary women workers.Staudt (1987) argues that, while women share commonalities from theirreproductive capacities, there are obvious differences among women based on their classposition and resulting differences in opportunities and lifestyles. Staudt argues thatwomen have not been universally disadvantaged. She points out that:Given the near universal advantages of those with more education, money, landand in politics, women with those resources are politically advantaged and canacquire skills appropriate in given regimes along with a sense of “winnable”political goals. . . . Their winnability narrows the political agenda to demandscompatible with the conception of women that the regime can accommodate.Very rarely do women activists in conventional politics articulate genuinelyredistributive issues. . . . Should the wealthier women take up this redistributiveissue in Kenya’s zero-sum politics, more for other women would mean less forthemselves. Their economic stakes lie more in their households than in solidaritywith other women. (p. 203)The Ndegwa report was produced with the input of two high-ranked women academics.One had been the chairperson of the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (Progressfor Women movement). It is not possible to know whether these women attempted to putthrough policies that would make rural women’s lives less of a sacrifice but were‘The formal sector in Kenya is made up of the public and the private sectors.223overruled by a predominantly male commission. What is clear is that the policyrecommendation outcomes did little to lessen the burdens that rural women endure in theirattempt to meet the basic needs of their families. The commissioners did not recommendredistributive policies that would give women in the rural communities access to resourcessuch as land, credit and water to ensure food security and income from sale of cash cropsand excess farm produce. More importantly, the Report did not challenge the structuresthat have made such conditions possible. In addition, the Report did not challenge thegender-biased ownership policies and laws stipulated in the Sessional Paper #10 of 1965which denied women ownership and control of property, particularly land. The right toown land and therefore acquire credit was systematically passed on to men who wereassumed to be heads of households. The issuance of land title deeds to men as heads ofhouseholds gave men absolute control over the land, its products and its disposal evenagainst the will of the wife.In addition, the Ndegwa report, which these two high ranking female academicshelped produce, proposed support for women in home-based activities such as tailoringand food processing rather than policies to improve small-scale farming which wouldaffect the lives of the 80% of the women living in the rural areas. Besides such policiesreinforcing the public-private distinctions, they also benefit the local elite since the ensuingsewing programs are likely to be both irrelevant and time consuming for the majority ofwomen who are engaged in a multiplicity of activities as food producers, petty traders andcare givers (Staudt, 1987).224Throughout the 30 years, most policy makers have formulated policies withoutconsidering their impact on women. For instance, unemployment became a social,economic and political concern when an overwhelmingly number of men began to crowdthe urban areas in search of unavailable employment. The Mackay, Wanjigi and KamungeReports (1981, 1982 & 1988) recommended and emphasized a rural-development focus tocurb the rural-urban migration. Also recommended was a continual vocationalization ofschool subjects in order for school graduates to become self-employed. None of thesereports examined (or recommended examination of) the impact of these policies onwomen if men remained in the rural areas particularly in connection with access toresources such as land. From this study it became clear that women utilize the limited landaccessible to them to plant food crops and other crops for sale. Also, it became clear thatwomen do not benefit from growing cash crops although their labor produces these cashcrops--an exploitation that some women have resisted in subtle ways as in relegating theirenergies in planting food crops. It is clear that with more men having to depend on landfor income, women’s access to land will be adversely limited. This will also affect foodsecurity as men are likely to engage in cash crop production. This would ultimatelyimpact female education as men would demand women’s labour for cash crop production.They would also have direct access to the incomes and would not likely spend it on theirfamilies welfare, particularly on their daughters’ education.Vocationalization of school subjects for self-employment was seen by policymakers as a panacea for the looming high unemployment rates. The Reportsrecommended the introduction of courses such as masonry, carpentry and tailoring. In225order for a school graduate to become self-employed they will have to purchase theequipment. In addition to the credit limitations, the courses provided are likely to attractboys since they are traditionally male fields.Despite the policy recommendations on self-employment and provision ofvocational subjects, women in this study seem to believe strongly that economicindependence can only become possible through paid employment particularly in theformal employment sector. The women are not aware of the high unemployment ratesand the discrimination that their daughters might face in the labour market. What isimportant to them right now is to provide their daughters with educational opportunitiesthat gives them a chance to “knock on the doors” of the modern employment sector. Thewomen’s agency is not just around motherhood but they participate in economic roles thatgo a long way to make their children’s and spouses’/partners’ economic activities in thepublic possible.However the women’s agency is limited by policies that do increase their burdenssuch as the implementation of the cost-sharing strategy as a measure of structuraladjustment programs. With this policy, the government has reduced spending oneducation and health services. The amount of fees that children have to pay at thesecondary level is astronomical (at least 15,000/= per year). In addition to school fees,parents are expected to buy stationery, uniforms and pay for other fees that might bedeemed necessary. Mothers have stepped in as agricultural subsistence producers, pettytraders, and workers to meet their children’s educational needs. The women’s economicactivities are limited by the sexual division of labour assigning to them the responsibility of226bearing and caring of children, sick and aged to women and the labour required foragricultural subsistence as well as cash crop production. In addition, women have limitedaccess to resources. The intensification of their workload has threatened their health andtheir ability to provide for their children. Structural adjustment policies have a negativeimpact on the education of girls and the demand to invest heavily in the education of girlshas made more parents invoke gendered cultural beliefs to make choices on who is to beeducated. Girls’ educational opportunities are limited by the preference for boys in theprovision of educational opportunities based on the gendered cultural assumptions ofinherent motherhood and high pregnancy rates among senior primary and secondary levelgirls. These are barriers that the policy makers do not address adequately.Implications for PolicyAn examination of the public policy discourse and the private discourse of thewomen in relation to education shows that policy makers continue to formulate policiesthat limit women’s agency to the private sphere of a gendered society. The policy makersseem to uphold the image of a society with distinctive public and private spheres dividedalong gender lines. The perception of women held by policy makers limit women’seducational opportunities as they confine women to the private sphere, oblivious of theactivities that women are undertaking to provide their children with educationalopportunities. The women’s perception of themselves and their daughters is differentfrom that held by the policy makers. The women do not see their daughters’ agencydefined around motherhood only but as economic and political agents in the public spherealongside men. The women identify lack of resources and gender-related barriers that227limit girls’ education. The women, also identilr the patriarchal ideology that limit theiragency as intervention agents. These are factors that the policy makers did not address.There is need for the following changes to be effected to address factors that limit girls’education. There is need to (a) make gender and class equity issues pivotal in the policymaking process, (b) provide material and psychological support for girls’ educationstarting at the village level, (c) provide opportunity for re-entry of adolescent mothers intothe school system and hold fathers of these children responsible for them, (d) introducesex education in schools/communities, and (e) support women as intervention agents fortheir daughters’ education as individuals and groups.The examination of the policy documents in this study has shown that policymakers marginalize gender issues in the formulation of policies. This observation has alsobeen made by Kivutha Kibwana, a law professor in the University of Nairobi who pointsout that official documents hardly concede to the issue of gender equity or sensitivity towomen’s issues. He notes that even in one of the most recent Development Plans (1989-1993), “women’s role in Kenya society is fleetingly recognized” (1992, p. 9). Planningand the development of policies and programmes in Kenya have taken on the maleperspective since men have dominated the public sphere of policy making andimplementation. The policy makers see the world from the perspective of men rather thanfrom the perspective of both men and women. This perception has reinforced genderinequities. In addition, policies that have been formulated and implemented that do notaddress the peculiar circumstances of both men and women. “Instead, they have in mostcases ended up favouring men” (Kibwana, 1992).228There is need for policy makers to address gender equity issues in the formulationof educational policies in a gendered society. In addition, there is need for women to beequally represented in the commissions and work parties charged with policy formulation.Maria Nzomo (1989) argues that it is only if women are well represented in policy makingbodies that they can influence policy changes necessary for their empowerment.Resistance to gender and women’s issues is so pervasive in the society that evenpoliticians will make overtly sexists remarks and threats and expect no criticism from otherpoliticians or the head of their political party.2 There is hostility vented out to womenwho challenge the state for formulating gender-insensitive policies. Often these womenare discredited by politicians and have been accused of being misled by Western feministideology. Stamp (1991) posits that:The language of Western feminism is easily dismissed as yet another imperialisttool in the oppression of Third World people and a cause espoused by alienatedand selfish elite African women. In this discourse, anti-imperialist ideology isarticulated with right-wing and sexist political positions in a way that mystifies anddiscredits feminism and that stymies direct action in the name of women’s rights.(p. 827)Such women include professor Wangari Mathai, the first female professor of veterinarymedicine, and founder of the world renowned environmental GreenBelt movement. Shehas consistently been described as a villain for challenging men’s supremacy in the makingof decisions that are gender biased and that also affect the environment. Women’s agencycontinues to be perceived as emanating from their roles as mothers not as economic andpolitical agents as men in the public sphere. Wangari (1991) observes that in Kenya “the2A recent case in mind is the threat uttered by a Mr. Chepkok, a member of parliament to WangariMathai-Founder of the CenBelt Movement in Kenya, in which he threatened that if she visited hisconstituency against his wish, she would be circumcised Kalenjin style--the ethnic group to whichChepkok belongs.229sky is not the limit” for women, rather, gender, marriage and culture are women’s limits.The education system that is supposed to help inculcate attitudes on the equality and rightsof all persons in Kenyan youth is not doing so. For instance, women who comprise 80%of the small scale farmers are not represented as such in agriculture textbooks used inschools. Most girls are not choosing science and mathematics in high school (Eshiwani,1990). Consequently, girls cannot pursue high status careers in science and technology.Orientation of the education of girls/women is for low-status jobs or for the provision ofunpaid labour, which only reinforces the subordination ofwomen.Within the official circles and in society at large, the level of gender sensitivity isexceedingly low. There is resistance, mostly by men, to the genderization of issuesbecause it challenges their expectations and male hegemony. It challenges patriarchy inwhich men assume superiority over women (Kibwana, 1992). Women, as the majority ofvoters, must seek to elect women who are sensitive to gender issues to parliament in largenumbers because it is in the parliament where the laws that influence women’s lives arepassed. Making gender a category of policy analysis means challenging deeply engrainedgendered assumptions that reinforce gender inequities not only in education but in thegeneral society.In addition to employing gender as a category of analysis, the class issue must alsobe taken into consideration. As Mohanty (1991) points out, women are not a monolith.The impact of policies on middle class urban women who are advantaged by education,money, and political power cannot be the same as those of the poor rural women whohave no access to land, shelter and money. Staudt (1987) argues that women with these230advantages do acquire favours in given regimes. Women’s daily experiences are alsoshaped by factors such as ethnicity and the region where they live. For instance, theInternational Labour Organization studies on employment opportunities for rural womengave the impression that most rural women can find work in plantations or in large scalefarms. This might be a reality for a few women who live in the 17% arabIc region ofKenya. Therefore, the impact of policies in relation to class must be examined, eventhough in the Sessional Paper # 10 (1965) Kenyan politicians and policy makers denied theexistence of classism in the society. Addressing gender and class issues in policy making isa great challenge to the status quo.Support For Girls’ Education Starting At The Village LevelThis study has shown that the high school fees charged at the secondary levels area great barrier to girls’ educational opportunities. Some girls who have been admitted togovernment-maintained schools, which are well established and have facilities, equipment,qualified teachers and extra-curricula educational opportunities, have had to go to inferiorquality harambee day schools which are relatively cheaper. Most harambee schools do nothave qualified teachers and do not teach pure science subjects. Students’ performance inthe university entry examinations are poor in harambee schools. It is therefore importantto ensure that girls who are admitted to government secondary schools make it into theseschools. This can be facilitated through the establishment of a special fund for such cases.Information on how to access these funds should be made available to parents at thevillage level. At present, there is supposed to be a fund that helps needy children. Duringmy fieldwork, I found that most rural women do not know of its existence, and those who231know about it and have applied for funds were frustrated and intimidated by the lengthytime and money-consuming and corrupt process, so they eventually gave up.In addition, if a girl does not report to secondary school after she has beenadmitted, it would be important for the head teacher to be aware of the circumstancessurrounding this case. Often, girls will not show up at school because of lack of schoolfees, uniforms, even bus fare or early marriage. Head teachers are swift to give awayvacancies that become available in this manner. It is important that the head teachercontact the parents/guardians through the divisional education office before the girl’s placeis given to somebody else. It could be that this girl’s father has refused to invest in hereducation because he wants to wed her off or to go and work as a house girl. Thereshould be options available to ensure that such a girl goes to school.Re-entry of Adolescent Mothers into the School SystemThe number of adolescent mothers is on the increase (UNICEF/Government ofKenya, 1992). Women who participated in this study pointed out that many girls areleaving school because of pregnancy and this marks the end of formal schooling. Schoolsdo not re-admit a girl who leaves school due to pregnancy because she is considered a badrole model. In addition to this, a girl who leaves school because of pregnancy is a bigdisappointment to her parents, and most fathers, who pay school fees most of the timeand allocate resources in the household, consider it “risky” to reinvest in the education ofsuch a girl. Therefore, it becomes almost impossible for this girl to re-enter the formaleducation system. Consequently, the girl’s educational and economic opportunities arelimited and she often ends up in a subordinated role in a marriage relationship. It is232important that such girls are given a chance to continue with formal schooling withoutbeing discriminated against. It is also important that girls are given the space to talk aboutthe circumstances that led to the pregnancies. Most of the time, there is an adult maleinvolved, often a teacher, who admonishes the girl to remain silent. These men who abusetheir power are often never brought to justice. Girls need to be provided with thechannels and necessary skills to deal with such men. They need to be able to report sexualharassment and abuse without fear ofbeing accused of provoking it. There is need to dealwith the double standard of victimizing girls who get pregnant while letting the menresponsible for the pregnancies continue with their education or careers undisturbed. Theissue of sexual harassment has to be addressed and procedures be put in place to deal withsex offenders at all levels of the society. Tough laws need to be put in place for thoseadults who are responsible. At the moment, it is the responsibility of a rape victim toprove that she did not provoke it. This treatment has only served to silence the majorityof rape victims.Parents need to be made aware of ways to support their daughters who give birthwhile in schools other than consider them as outcasts. The stigma and psychologicalstress associated with teenage pregnancy has caused many teenage deaths as they attemptto procure illegal abortions.Addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy and the treatment of teenage mothersrequires challenging patriarchy and its control of women’s sexuality. Hartman (1993)argues that patriarchy, a set of interrelations among men that allow men to dominatewomen, has a material base. The material base is men’s control over women’s labor233power, and “that control is maintained by excluding women from access to necessaryeconomically productive resources and by restricting women’s sexuality” (p. 196).Introducing Sex Education in Schools and CommunitiesIntroduction of Western formal education and Christianity replaced traditionaleducation in which grandmothers played crucial roles as sex educators. Sincegrandmothers lost their role and credibility as knowledgeable sex educators, they have notbeen replaced. Recent attempts to introduce sex education in schools have been impededby religious groups and parents who felt that their children will be taught to bepromiscuous. There is need for a consensus on how this issue should be approachedbecause teenage girls are getting pregnant and leaving school, and even worse they aredying. Local newspapers are filled with stories like “a 17 year-old high school studentwho was pregnant was murdered by her boyffiend as he tried to procure an abortion” (TheStandard, January 16, 1995). Most cases go unreported. Students, both boys and girls,need to be aware of their sexuality and responsibilities that go with it. There is need forgirls to be made aware that they should not tolerate sexual harassment or abuse. I wouldrecommend that there be an adult who girls can trust to discuss sex related matterswithout being made to feel “immoral”. Grandmothers represented that individual whomgirls could trust in the past. Schools can use individuals from the community, rangingfrom contemporary sex educators to traditional sex educators--grandmothers.234Support for Women as Intervention Agents for their Daughters’ EducationThis study showed how mothers are involved in a multiplicity of activities in aneffort to improve their families’ living conditions and to provide their children witheducational opportunities. The women’s endeavours are impeded by the rising costs ofliving and the implementation of structural adjustment policies that have meant lessgovernment funding on education and health services. Their efforts are also limited by thetraditional sexual division of labour and limited access to resources. The activities that thewomen are engaged in are labour-intensive and brings them minimum profits that canbarely meet their families’ basic needs, not to mention educational needs. The rotatingcredit that the women’s self-help groups operate provides its members with onlytemporary help because it comes once in a long time when the woman has alreadyaccumulated huge debts and expenses such as school fees and doctors’ fees, that cannotbe offset with a one-time credit.The Kenya government, international donor countries, and development agencieshave come to look upon women’s self-help groups as the most viable organizational basefor implementing women’s projects ranging from social welfare to those dealing withincome generation. Consequently, a lot of money has been made available to thegovernment to channel to the women’s projects. Unfortunately, this money does not seemto get to most women because of the politics of aid in the national and local levels.Nzomo (1989) argues that economic programs being promoted under the umbrella ofwomen’s groups have not enabled women to attain economic empowerment. In addition,the women’s groups excludes over 60% of eligible women in Kenya.235There are, however, various benefits that women get from participating inwomen’s groups. For example, women benefit from the social interaction groupmembership gives since the women get a chance to break from their individual isolationand confinement in their respective homes and family-related activities. It is, however,important that these self-help groups be made more inclusive and independent from localand national government control. A few women’s self-help groups in semi-arid areas havereceived credit and organizational skills from organizations such as the African MedicalResearch Foundation (AMREF) that have increased the groups’ income tremendously.There is need to focus on individual women and to find out how individual womenmay be supported to support themselves. Most of the women who participated in thisstudy noted lack of credit as a major barrier to their individual businesses. These womenneed to have access to credit. One method that has been adopted by a non-governmentalorganization working in Kibwezi (an opposition zone) is to provide credit to a women’sself-help group for individual women. The group is the collateral and the individualwoman owes it to the entire group to repay back the loan. This method is the underlyingprinciple behind the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh which is run and owned bypoor rural women. The Grameen Bank was started by economist Mohammed Yunus(Yunus, 1991).The women also identified food shortages due to poor rainfalls as one of the majorproblems they face and one which consumes much of the income they earn from theirmany ventures. They also noted that availability of water would be a major solution tothe problem of food. A borehole would be of great help to these women.236Significance of the StudyThe objective of this research was ambitious when one considers the complexity ofwomen’s education and the factors that shape it since women’s education does not takeplace in a vacuum. I explored women’s experiences of education from which I construedwhat I call “women’s private discourse of education.” I contrasted the women’s discoursewith the public discourse of education articulated in policy documents. Beyond the ruralwomen’s experiences of education, I examined the women’s agency in their multiplesubjectivity as mothers, sisters, daughters, workers, educators and traders to understandhow they perceive themselves and explain their actions. The women’s self.perceptioncounters the facile but popular imagery that reduces the African woman to an anguished,helpless mother holding a famished child (Stamp, 1995).This study, therefore, contributes to the limited studies on African women as socialagents. It is a ground-breaking study that shows how rural women in Kilome areresponding to the social, economic and political changes and how they are creatingeducational and economic possibilities for their children. The study highlights thewomen’s experiences of education and the limitations that they faced as well as those thattheir daughters face. The study shows how women’s agency is limited by policies.The study has attempted to analyze the voices of the women of Kilome about theirexperiences and about factors that limited their educational opportunities and how theirparticipation in the society has been structured. It has sought to show the women’svisions, struggle and courage to provide for their children’s needs. It has also sought toshow women’s compliance with formal discourses. The power of the methodology is that237it provided space for the women’s conditions to become visible from their standpoints.The methodology did not objectilr the women, rather, the women’s agency becameperceivable in the changing cultural, historical, economic and political environment ofKenya society.I recommend further research to examine the impact of the high cost of schoolingon girls’ education. The interplay between the high cost of schooling and the genderedcultural assumptions that limit girls’ education is crucial. There is also need for furtherresearch to examine the problem of adolescent motherhood and recommend ways to helpthese girls to achieve their educational goals. These are issues that women noted ashaving negative impact on the education of girls. At present, the government hasappointed a task force to examine the laws of Kenya with an aim of recommendinggender-sensitive laws. 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