Even though over 50 percent of Kenya’s population is women, they are still struggling to get acceptance and the same basic rights as their male counterparts. In Kenya’s constitution they state that discrimination based on sex is not illegal. That means that women can be treated unfairly both in the workplace and home and there is nothing that they can do about it legally.
There are still many stereotypes about women and what they are expected to do in Kenya. Kenyan women are expected to stay home and care for their children. If a woman would have to support herself and/or her children she would be expected to do “woman’s work” such as hairdressing, growing vegetables etc. Due to the poverty level in Kenya, many women do not have the finances or support to go to college or take classes to get better jobs.
Because of the sexual discrimination that is legalized in the workplace, many women are not welcomed into the job field like men. They can be expected to do just as much work as a man, but are still paid much less. In spite of women making up the majority of voters, it can still be a struggle to get leaders into position that are sympathetic to the plight of Kenyan women.
There have been several fights to get sex discrimination illegalized, but there have been too many of the opposition to succeed. Not only would they have to pay women equal wages, but then they would have to deal with all the cases of sexual discrimination.
Many of Kenya’s women have not been able to go beyond the primary school level due to financial hardship, but in spite of that they have expanded their career options. For example, there are a few training programs that are specifically targeted to the women who don’t know where to go or what to do with their skills. Because of these training programs more and more women are advancing into fields that were predominately male.
Women in Kenya have been striving to close the gap between genders for a long time now and it looks like they might be finally getting somewhere. There are not colleges that offer all courses to both genders instead of the traditional men’s and women’s separate classes. Even though the colleges are open to equality, the home still proves a challenge as the men expect their wives to do feminine things.
Kenyan Dating Traditions
A man without a wife is like a vase without flowers. – African proverb
Marriage in Kenya is considered one of the most sacred events life has to offer. Both spiritual and social, these events are the combination not only of two lives, but also two families and communities. It is said that marriage is the only know incubator for bringing up socially functional children. Not only are the parents then responsible for raising the children, but the whole family stays involved in the parenting process.
Kenyan dating traditionally involves courtship that both families approve of. There are not as many arranged marriages today as there used to be, but often the children will still seek their parents approval for their relationships. Dating begins at around 18-19 years of age in the cities, but it is still uncommon in the villages. Men and women usually get married when they are in their mid-twenties.
The groom’s family pays the bride’s family a dowry to thank them for raising the bride and to compensate them for losing her. Traditionally the dowry is paid with livestock but it is not common for them to pay with cash. After the bride is given away she is literally no longer welcomed to come back to live at home. She becomes the property of her husband.
Like many other African communities, Kenyan’s have a lot of diversity among themselves. There are communities that believe that women are the lesser sex and the men can walk all over them and treat them however they please. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who worship their brides and treat them with honor and respect because they are responsible for bringing the next generation into the world.
Kenyan dating is not really a big social ordeal, dating is called courtship and is basically a time set aside before marriage to find out if they really are a good fit for each other before making a lifelong commitment. Marriage is a not only a big affair, but it is considered a sacred commitment to each other for life. If a marriage does not work out the bride is not welcomed back into families home other than as a visitor. She is expected to find her own support if she leaves her husband. The husband is expected to care for his bride and their family for the duration of his life. He is the breadwinner of the family while the wife stays at home and cares for the family.