Kenya’s Proverb In Lubukusu And Ekegusii Languages: Empowering Or Disempowering For Women And Girls

Type Working Paper
Title Kenya’s Proverb In Lubukusu And Ekegusii Languages: Empowering Or Disempowering For Women And Girls
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 1-14
Research about the Kenyan women has primarily been conducted from socio-demographic perspectives. Such approaches, while important, are not exhaustive. This paper reports on the findings of a study that focused on the socio-linguistic perspectives that explore the place and role of women and girls in the society. Given that proverbs have the function of legitimizing certain role patterns and preventing those patterns from possibly being questioned, the study also examined how Lubukusu and EkeGusii proverbs can empower or disempower women and girls and its impact on the achievement of Millennium Development (MDG) number three: gender equality. Thus, this paper also set out to investigate how proverbs portray women and girls, and effect on gender identity and the implications of proverb messages to achievement of MDGs. Data of the study comprised thirty eight Bukusu and Gusii proverbs related to (dis)empowerment of women and girls; ethnography was used to select the proverbs, the data analysis focused on the representation of women through the examination of the meanings of the respective proverbs using the language dominance framework by Lakoff Zimmerman and feminist theories of the Radicals and Critical Discourse Analysis by Norman Fairclough. The findings revealed that women are portrayed as inferior, worthless and weak and thus constructed in specific roles as domestic worker, wives and caretaker. Consequently, such specific roles marginalize and discriminate women and girls in issues of decision making, participation, resource distribution and policy formulation due to the prejudice. Such discriminative proverbs slow the achievement of development goals. The paper thus concludes that in order to realize the MDGs, there is need to eliminate or reconceptualize some of the proverbs which reinforces gender parity and also reform the language to suit the needs of the society.

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