Kenyan Families: What are the roles and duties of a modern Kenyan woman?

Modern Kenyan Woman
Modern Kenyan woman who took a male dominated job, boda boda. Photo: Los Angeles Times

The role of modern Kenyan woman has gradually shifted from just babysitting to male dominated roles. For instance, the modern Kenyan lady is willing and is taking roles such a carpentry, matatu conductor, drivers in public service vehicle just to mention a few.

But why is modern Kenyan woman going for the male dominated jobs? This article answers this question.

If you go to church today, you will find more women than men in church. Apart from the elders and the pastors the majority of the congregants are women and their children.

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Traditional roles and duties of a Kenyan woman

The traditional role of a woman in Kenyan society was a home maker:  To attend to her husband, to take care of the kids and provide for her family.

Proverbs 31 outlines the kind of a woman. In fact, this bible verse is used in so many seminars. When a woman gets married even if it’s a “come we stay” kind of marriage, then seeks for advice from church the first thing they tell her is to read proverbs 31.

In a church set up in early 90’s seminars were meant for women. To be taught on how to take care of her husband:  How to cleanup her house, how to make beds, how to behave in front of her husband, how to handle in-laws and the list is endless, of the expectancies of her now that she is a wife.

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Roles and duties of a modern Kenyan woman

Women in Kenya have done it all; apart from the obvious duties and caregiving they are pillars of the society. Women nowadays are in every form of the economy. I went to a garage and Muthoni (not her real name) fixed my side-mirror, most Matatu conductors are women not to mention the upcoming generation of Matatu women drivers. This was a job that in 90’s was reserved for men.

Why have women woken up from the traditional role?

The answer is simple. If your parents did not take you to college, it’s either do or die situation. You either sit at home or wait for your fate. The fate in this case means that you sleep hungry if your “Mzee” as we like to call them meaning your husband doesn’t show up.

Limited jobs

If you are not a teacher, a nurse or a secretary then jobs in Kenya are so limited. This leaves women with little options. Find anything that your hands can do. Going to the market and be a vegetable or fruits vendor is one option. If it’s doing manual jobs like construction as they call it mjengo then be it.

The roles are no longer a walk in the park where you sit at home and wait for Baba Njeri to bring his hard-earned income and pamper you. As they like to say earth is hard.

The rates of unemployment and lack of opportunities have redefined the role of a Kenyan woman. In fact, the girl child has woken up to the task ahead of her. Mothers nowadays prefers gilt to a boy. While the boy child is busy choosing work the girl is busy risking it all to make ends meet.

Kenyan Inheritance culture

In many communities in Kenya, women are not entitled to a family inheritance. Although under 2010 constitution, every child is entitled to inheritance, implementation of this law remains a male domain.

This scenario is seen with the number of women going abroad in search of work while men are comfortable at home waiting for their fathers’ inheritance. Others wait for the new government to create opportunities.

If you go to the village setup, employers prefer women laborers to men laborers. The tea farmers will tell the story better by the fact that on payday women will show up while men will return to work once broke again. The consistency of woman labor is an assurance to such employers unlike their male counterparts.

The roles and duties of women range from Supreme Court judges to house help. But all in the entire girl child is the economy mover of our great nation.

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