Catholic Women's Participation in Empowerment and Liberation Activities: A Study of Small Christian Communities in Kenya
This study is an attempt to investigate the Catholic women's participation in empowerment and liberation activities in the Small Christian Communities of the Catholic Church. It aims at investigating how the SCC are avenues of liberation and empowerment for women at the grassroots level. To articulate this, a comparative study of women in urban and rural communities was conducted. It is the hope of this study that such knowledge will be useful to theology of women liberation and gender development. The research was guided by the following objectives: To investigate Agikuyu traditional concept of women; to assess the Catholic women's participation in liberation and empowerment activities in the SCC; to assess the role of the Beijing Conference (1995) in the liberation and empowerment activities of the Catholic women and finally to analyse the Catholic women's liberation activities in view of Christology and Mariology as taught by the Roman Catholic Church.The study was carried out in the Nairobi Deanery of the Archdiocese of Nairobi and Kieni North Deanery of the Archdiocese of Nyeri. The primary data was used to test the study's hypotheses: the IX Agikuyu tradition demean the status of women as second class; the Catholic women in SCC participate in empowerment and liberation activities; the outcome of the Beijing Conference has had both positive and negative effects on Catholic women's liberation activities and finally, the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on Christology and Mariology conscientize the Catholic women on social praxis. The study has seven chapters. Chapter one forms the introduction and background to this study with the statement of the problem, objectives, the rationale, scope, literature review, theoretical framework, hypotheses and methodology applied to achieve its objectives. Chapter two looks into the African traditional setup surronding the socio-cultural, economic, religious, educational and political circumstances surrounding the lives of women. For the purpose of this study one ethnic group was identified as a representative variable. This chapter forms an axis through which the Small Christian Communities' participation in social praxis is discussed.Chapter three gives a historical overview of the Catholic Church In Kenya to help the reader contextualise the study. Within this perspective the status of women in the Catholic Church is handled. The chapter goes further to discuss various forms of alienation facing particularly the women. The question of women's Reproductive Health issues are handled with special reference to family planning. This forms the basis of Chapter four which looks into Catholic women's liberation and empowerment activities through the Small Christian communities. Chapter five is a detailed analysis of different sources of women's empowerement besides the social teachings of the Church. The Catholic women, faced with cross cutting issues such as the HIV/AIDS scourge, identify themselves with other women to fight such diseases. The chapter looks at ways the Catholic women integrate themselves in different development activities for survival. Chapter six is an appraisal of the Catholic women's liberation and empowerment acivities with reference to liberation Christology and mariology. These are cardinal paradigms in liberation theology. Chapter seven are the conclusions, findings and recommendations.Chapter six is an appraisal of the Catholic women's liberation and empowerment acivities with reference to liberation Christology and mariology. These are cardinal paradigms in liberation theology. Chapter seven are the conclusions, findings and recommendations of this study. This thesis has four main conclusions: The SCC are vital organs of the local church through which the Catholic women participate in empowerment and liberation activities. They are also important in the social, economic and religious development of its people. However, according to the primary data, this study concludes that these communities are not exclusively Catholic communities. People from different faiths such as Protestant churches were also found to be members of the SCC due to their openness to other faiths in their neighbourhood and concern for the less privileged.