Rural Women’s Perspectives on Marriage and Related Issues: Analysis of Personal Narratives from Kenyan Women

Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira



This paper is based on personal stories as told by Kenyan women. The stories were compiled by the author in 2001 and 2002when interviewing Kenyans on their views regarding the new constitution. The paper identifies issues raised by women during the women only sessions which focused on the women’s personal lives in the context of marriage, polygamy, motherhood and experiences of domestic violence, among others. The paper is guided by the feminist theoretical perspective which argues that if you want to know about women, you should start with women, for they know. African feminism also argues that though the struggle for women’s liberation is a struggle that all should engage in, including the state, policy makers both men and women must set the pace and lead the struggle. It is they who will define what marriage is for them, whether polygamy is a desired arrangement and say no to domestic violence. It is the women who must clear the path that they, the men, and the African communities must walk on their journey towards more women friendly societies. The paper focuses on: marriage, the place of the first wife in polygamous marriages, motherhood, widowhood and domestic violence. The author concludes that feminist research is bringing new knowledge and perspectives to the traditional African view on the institution of marriage and mapping the paths towards new societies.

Key words: Marriage, Motherhood, Polygamy, Feminist Theory, African Feminism, Constitution, Patriarchy.

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