The Participation of Women in the Political-economy of Kenya: a Case Study of Bukusu Women in Bungoma District, 1902 - 1960.
This is a local case study. Research was conducted in Bungoma District in Western Province of Kenya from November, 1981 to June 1982. The main emphasis of the study is on the participation of women in agricultural production in the district during the colonial period. The study opens with a discussion of women's participation in the pre-colonial economy. At the turn of the century, Bukusu women in Bungoma District played a critical role in the production of food for the community, a role which also called for their considerable contribution to the resources I of the households. Women were, therefore, not economically dependent on men. However, with colonialism, new economic patterns were introduced and they significantly changed I the value of women's economic roles in the community and the household. These changes also meant increased workload for women, given the low level of technology. A pattern of women's dependency on men was created and the colonial government played a major role in initiating and consolidating the dependency, especially through the Swvnnerton Plan of 1954. Land consolidation and registration changed women's land rights because the land was registered in the men's names. Furthermore, considering the dependency framework, resources were heavily channelled to men in the form of education, employment, improved technology and agricultural extension services. The limited educational opportunities for women eant that only few of them were found in professional employment. I a result, women had little access to cash in an agricultural economy controlled by men. Women, therefore, resorted to raising cash from trading activities such as brewing beer, petty marketing of agricultural produce, peui-fc-ry- and poultry products. They formed groups to enhance their status and to increase their incomes. Women's groups are utilized by women as a strategy to avoid extreme individual dependency on men for financial assistance. In the final analysis, we observed that women's workload did not reduce given the assistance they received from the women's groups. However, we recommend that improved and appropriate technology in the agricultural sector be instituted with a view to improving and alleviating women's workload.
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