Date of Award





Political Science


Political Science and Public Administration

First Advisor

William L. Chappell

Second Advisor

Cecile Accilien

Third Advisor

Kyle Christensen


The historical relationship between the Kenyan state and women provides lessons and insight as to how women in a colonized state relate to the government and the gains, or lack thereof, that exist. Kenyan women were critical in the nationalist movement that intensified in the 1950s, culminating in independence in 1963. Some women fought in the forests and others were information and food distributors. Many women played a role in furthering the nationalist movement. Independence promised fruits that few women received. Through a historical analysis and an understanding of two women's organizations in Kenya, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization and The Green Belt Movement, this research analyzes the methods in which Kenyan women have related to the state in the 20 11 century. One major lesson is that Kenyan women have often been used as tools in accomplishing their male counterparts" goals and then left behind without reward. Since the 1990s, there has been a shift in women's relation to the state, including opposition to the government in office and uniting with men to fight against the ruling of President Moi. This research illustrates that women cannot rely on their government to keep its promises even when they have been instrumental in achieving monumental goals, such as independence. Kenya is still very much a patriarchal society and women must recognize the existence of this institution and use their agency to fight and/or work with it to accomplish their goals. The women's movement in Kenya must grow in strength and unity. In many ways, Kenyan women have found means of survival, with and most often without the state. But if they are to improve their relationship to the state and gain political power, they must organize and fight united.