Why do African women immigrate? : the experiences of African women immigrants in St. John's, Newfoundland

Nderitu, Wanjiru (2008) Why do African women immigrate? : the experiences of African women immigrants in St. John's, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the experiences of African women before and after they migrate. It asks the question "why do African women migrate," examines the conditions in Africa particularly those related to gender issues and shows how they contribute to the marginalization of women, limiting their access to resources, thereby creating poverty for women much greater than that suffered by their male counterparts. The thesis asks how the African woman got into this state of poverty and violence and explores colonialism and globalization as the two main forces that have driven the marginalization of African women. It explores the construction of masculinity as an engine of violence and how violence intersects with poverty to marginalize African women. It also examines how racism and sexism in immigration policies of host countries can hinder the full participation of African women when they migrate. -- This study is based on case studies of women in Kenya and a group of Kenyan women in Massachusetts and other parts of the United States of America who told their stories. It also involves African women from various African countries and now living in St. John's who participated in open-ended interviews. A comparison was done on the perceived expectations of migration of the women in Kenya and the actual lived experiences of the women in the United States and those in St. John's. It was found that the two can be very different. Whereas the expectations of those women in Kenya who would consider migration as a survival strategy are colored by television and other images of life in the West and by material things that their relatives and other migrants bring back on their brief visits home, the actual lives of African women immigrants can be difficult, with experiences of double-duty syndrome, isolation and loneliness, long-working hours and deskilling of some professional women and immigrants, racism and sexism. But it can also be a liberating process, particularly for those women who are seeking refuge either from political or personal violence. -- This thesis also explores issues of development from a gendered perspective and argues that for development issues to be effective, women and their relationship with nature have to be taken into account and that when local knowledge is ignored, development projects risk failure because of resentment by women on whose labor and goodwill such projects must ultimately rely. On theoretical framework I argue that feminists should work on what unites them instead of dwelling on differences in order for issues of gender inequalities to be effectively addressed and solutions found. I also examine African feminism and draw out the age-long debate between theory and activism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9415
Item ID: 9415
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 154-175).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Gender Studies
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's; Africa
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Women immigrants--Cultural assimilation--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's; Women, Black--Cultural assimilation--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's; Women, Black--Violence against--Africa; Africa--Emigration and immigration; Newfoundland and Labrador--Emigration and immigration

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