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Women’s Rights Around The World: Kenya

Interviewer’s Introductions: This series is meant to bring awareness to people who may not know what life is like in different countries as a woman. None of this is for debate, as it is the interviewee’s opinion and view of their own country and their experiences within it. Thank you!*

1. What is your full name?

Latifa Waithera

2. How old are you? Do you feel like your age has affected your worldview? How so?

I’m 18 years old. I don’t necessarily think my age has affected my worldview. I’ve been ahead in my education all my life. Therefore, the people I’ve been surrounded by have always been older than me. This forced me to grow up faster. I do, however, believe there is still a lot I don’t understand but that’s ok. Nobody knows everything.

3. What is your gender and preferred pronouns

Female, she/her.

4. Do you think sexuality is perceived differently from where you live compared to the rest of the world?

Africa, as a whole, still has a very “traditional” mindset. Being gay is illegal in Kenya. I believe the younger generation is opening their minds to it slowly, but the elders are stuck in their ways.

5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

I would consider myself a feminist. I believe in equality for all. Not just from a gender perspective, but race and even an environmental perspective. This hierarchical view many hold that places white men at the top needs to be dismantled. I’m tired of the marginalization and oppression that many still face today. All our voices matter.

6. In your personal experience how do you think your life differs from a man’s?

There are more things that I have to think about, worry about, in life that I believe a male doesn’t. Such as when going out, you’re always told not to leave your drink unattended. My mum has done everything she can to make sure that I have equal opportunities in life and an understanding of my worth, but there are just some things that are out of her control.

7. What are some things that you think of as a woman but wish you didn’t have to?

Where do I even start? “Is my dress too tight?” “Is my skirt too short?” “Did anyone slip anything in my drink?” “Am I safe walking alone?”

8. What situations do women have to think about or put themselves in that may be dangerous or looked down upon, that men never have to realize?

Walking alone, especially at night.

9. How does history, culture and expectations affect women in your country?

As I said, Kenya still has a very traditional, outdated mindset. Polygamy is legal (male only). Women are still perceived as housewives, even if they have a job. It is their responsibility to look after the kids and cook. Women are there to serve their husbands, and that’s that.

10. What customs and stereotypes did you grow up with in regard to gender? Do you still follow/believe them?

Unlike a typical Kenyan, my mum is very progressive. She lived abroad for some years, and I guess that helped open her mind to many things. It’s always been just the two of us, and she never tried to enforce any gender stereotypes on me, in fact, she did quite the opposite. She made sure I knew my rights and that I understood no matter what anyone says, I’m capable of doing whatever I put my mind to it. Those are the views I hold today.

11. If you could change one part of society in regard to human rights, what would you change? Do you think this is specific to where you’re from or should it be changed throughout the entire world?

I’d want people to stop looking down at African countries as “third world countries” that they can abuse and disregard. I say “Africa” and not just “Kenya” because this is an issue we face across the entire continent. There are countries, like Congo, whose children and families are being abused to obtain resources. These resources are used to manufacture the phone and laptop you use every day. You’ve got people talking about testing the covid-19 vaccine in Africa before distributing as though we’re guinea pigs. Our lives don’t seem to matter, and our cries don’t seem to be heard.

College kid just trying to survive
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