Transformation of Gender Power Relations in Igembe Central, Meru County, Kenya Between 1895 and 1963
Nkirote, Maranya Z.
MetadataShow full item record
The gender role theory suggests that socially identified males and females occupy different ascribed roles within divergent expectations of how they should behave. The theory groups men and women separately and assigns them roles based on their biological sex. Historically and across the world, gender roles have undergone considerable transformations. However, few studies have examined such changes in the African context. As an attempt to address this gap, the current research aimed to explore the changes in gender power relations among the people of Igembe Central, Meru County in Kenya, in the colonial era. The findings are based on interviews and guided questions involving a purposive sample of men and women in the region. During the pre-colonial period, Igembe women and men had distinct identities which produced complementary roles and relationships. Following the coming of European colonisers, gender power relations underwent significant changes that emanated from socio-economic and dynamics to fit within the capitalist production system, and which had far-reaching consequences on the community. The study focused on six areas through which the colonizers re-shaped gender-based values and behaviours in the area: colonial rule, Christianity, World Wars, the Mau Mau Uprising, education, and migration. These six and other forces combined to strip men of their traditionally respected status, redefined new roles for both men and women, and redistributed the power relations that existed between the two genders.