All Black women have experienced living in a society that devalues women of African descent. Control of Black women ideologically, economically and in political life functions perfectly to form a highly discriminative but effective system that is designed to keep Black women in a submissive and subordinate place. As a PhD student, in a reflective journey with my research supervisor, I engage in a struggle to define my own Black feminist perspective in preparation for exploring the oppression, disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Kenyan women who are living with vaginal fistula. I maintain that women’s gender oppression is not incidental to their health, while I embark on exploring how poor and socially disadvantaged women are forced to lead lives or engage in practices known to be associated with vaginal fistula and poor health. Such practices include child rape, child marriage and female genital mutilation, which are oppressive themselves. While academic theorizing considers socio-cultural practices that contribute to women’s oppression in Kenya, I seek to locate my position as a Black feminist to enable my contribution to these debates. I also consider the difficulties arising from assisting individuals to rise from their oppression when alternative action may not be accessible to those women who experience some of the worst forms of oppression in Kenya.


This article was withdrawn in July 2016. A revised version of the article appears in Journal of International Women's Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4 (July 2016).

Author Biography

Glory Joy Gatwiri is a 2nd year PhD student at Flinders University in South Australia where she teaches in the social work and women studies disciplines.

Helen Jaqueline McLaren is Gatwiri’s PhD supervisor. Together the authors have engaged in reflective dialogue and co-authorship in the search for Gatwiri’s Black feminist identity.