The Role of Women Self Help Groups (Chama) in Empowering Rural Women in Kenya


Rural women in developing countries face significant cultural challenges. Notably, women in patriarchal communities are constrained by gendered norms and roles. These norms have contributed to gendered exclusions, high expectations, and inequitable access to resources, leaving most women in these communities disempowered. Kenya is one of the countries whose rural women have been subjected to customs and traditions that impede their empowerment. To overcome these challenges, women have joined self-help groups (Chama). This study investigated the role of Chama in empowering rural women to overcome gendered customs and traditions in Kenya. The study used interviews and participant observation methods to: assess the impact of Chama membership on rural women's socio-economic status and how women empowerment influenced gender-based customs and traditions. The study was carried out in Kakamega County, Kenya. The findings revealed that through Chama, Kakamega women had been economically empowered. Their income has increased; they own property/assets and run their businesses. Their social networks have expanded, and they have acquired skills and knowledge in many aspects of life. This empowerment has inspired men to change their perception of women as generally home keepers but rather strong drivers of economic growth both at household, community, and national levels. The study concluded that Chama is an effective option and avenue for addressing rural women's social and economic empowerment. Relevant recommendations to the government and non-governmental bodies dealing with gender and development were made to enable the formulation of better strategies to support Chamas for sustainable development.

Author Information
Franciscah Anyona Omukiti, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: PCAH2023
Stream: Other Humanities

This paper is part of the PCAH2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Omukiti F. (2023) The Role of Women Self Help Groups (Chama) in Empowering Rural Women in Kenya ISSN: 2758-0970 The Paris Conference on Arts & Humanities 2023 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon