The University of Sheffield
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Qualitative Data for PhD thesis on Politics, progress and place of elite black African women in Kenyan Extractive Sector

posted on 2022-07-12, 07:37 authored by Nerea Okong'o

This research contributes to a growing yet understudied area of elite feminism and elite geography through its summation of black women experiences in Kenya’s Oil and Gas sector. Using African Feminism as a backdrop to the application of Feminist Political Ecology, this research problematises concepts of care, time, difference and equality. This is in an attempt to bring coherence to and ‘Africanise’ the experiences of black women in elite, masculine spaces such as extractive industries.  It is based upon empirical study done over 5 months in Kenya’s capital Nairobi where data was collected through  interviews and workshops where elite women got to share their experiences of working in the industry. Some men were also shared their experiences working with elite women.The lines of question involved discussions over how they perceived gender in the industry to infrastructure, race issues as well as sexism and equality. From these responses, inferences were made which pointed towards an existential system and infrastructure that was not only foreign/ western but was also designed to limit the inclusion and growth of black women in highly technical elitist positions and leadership.  By contextualising black women’s experiences, this research therefore challenges the retrogressive discourses that define, shape and influence the way elite black African women are engaged in extractive processes reconciling existing notions of what a woman and a woman’s body should be or a worker in extractives should look like.  

This research presents African feminism as an alternative to/ and moving beyond western feminist ideas to include black African women’s experiences and point of view. This brings about interesting discussions on its intersectionality with feminist ideas such as leaky bodies and glass cliff and how African women’s experiences decent from western feminist ideas and the broader black feminist discussions. I argue that these experiences are intertwined to their environment and black African women’s multi-faceted identity as mothers, leaders, workers and wives makes their lived experiences unique and different from western feminism. However, in this difference, inequalities and exclusionary tendencies thrives and persists (re)creating infrastructures of marginalisation in an environment that is already white, male and patriarchal. It is approved through the University of Sheffield Ethics process- Reference Number 016348. The title of the final PhD thesis has been updated on the consent form to reflect the changes made to the thesis title based on examiners comments. 


Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, UK



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