In dhako moromo? Femininity, gender relations and livelihood vulnerabilities in the fishing villages of southwestern Kenya

Odhiambo, Mary Thamari (2019). In dhako moromo? Femininity, gender relations and livelihood vulnerabilities in the fishing villages of southwestern Kenya. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Redacted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (14MB) | Preview


Southwestern Kenya has faced multiple social and livelihood vulnerabilities ranging from dwindling farm yields, economic marginalisation, decline of fish from Lake Victoria, family fragmentation due to high HIV/AIDS prevalence and high unemployment rate. This thesis explores how women cope with gender relations during such unstable times among inhabitants of fishing villages along the shores of Lake Victoria. As an ethnography investigating gender and livelihoods in a volatile setting, the thesis analyses how women utilize various strategies to access resources and opportunities for means of living. Uncertain livelihoods drive men and women to settlements along the lake where they pursue day-to-day survival as well as long-term aspirations for better lives.
As part of a focused ethnographic study carried out between November 2015 and August 2017, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, a review of archival records and observations were carried out in five fishing villages in Homa Bay County.
Gender practices in conformity with norms of acceptable femininity – in Dholuo, dhako moromo (complete woman) – emerged as a significant cultural context that shape women’s access to resources and other livelihood means. As part of attempts to be a dhako moromo and as a strategy for accessing livelihoods, women build expedient short-term relationships that produce what I call vulnerable navigation. Entry into marriages and marriage-like multiple unions which provide relative privileges, and laying claims to land, provide means and spaces through which livelihoods can be sustained. Yet starkly unequal power relations persist. This dissertation contributes to the scholarship on the nexus between gender practices and unstable places and how it shapes relationships, people’s self-understandings, livelihood strategies and outcomes.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Mustard Seed Foundation - Harveys Fellowship, International Peace Foundation - Senesh Fellowship, Little Stones Trust
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year