Child and female labour in kiambu district 1902 - 1960
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Child and female labour is an aspect of labour in general which has been ignored by Kenyan historians. The role of women and children in development and maintenance of the colonial economy has only been attempted by the sociologists. However, the sociologists tend to discuss it in over-general terms. Child and female labour is an integral part of labour in general and cannot be discussed in isolation. Thus, the study is carried out within the framework of labour problems and policies in colonial Kenya. In the pre-capitalist Kikuyu society, women and children were important. Exploitation was minimized by the fact that nearly everybody had access to the wealth he or she had helped to create. The knowledge children got through work was more important than the work they did. With the coming of the Europeans, there were new developments in the Kikuyu society. Land alienation, introduction of host of taxes and the creation of powerful colonial chiefs created a class of labourers which included women and children. The invitation of the soldier settlers after World War II resulted in more of the alienated land being brought under cultivation. This led to a severe shortage of labour. With the help of colonial administration and unfavourable colonial legislations, women and children were increasingly brought into the labour force. Child and female Labour was even more extensively used during difficult years such as the emergency period. Women and children from poor families were already used in providing Labour for wage and therefore many of them volunteered to do manual work. Furthermore, the economic difficulties of the 1940s and 50s also posed a challenge for survival and women and children responded to them by aggressively entering into the wage Labour, Therefore, child and female Labour was extensively used by the colonial settlers in Kiambu. This was necessitated by first, the shortage of able-bodied men to work on the settler farms and secondly, the monetary cheapness of women and children.