All Black women have experienced living in a society that devalues them. The scholarship of bell hooks submits that the control of Black women ideologically, economically, socially and politically functions perfectly to form a highly discriminative but effective system that is designed to keep them in a submissive and subordinate place. As a Ph.D. student, in a reflective journey with my research supervisor, I engage in a struggle to define my own feminist perspective in as I prepare to explore the oppression, disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Kenyan women living with vaginal fistulas. I examine how poor and socially disadvantaged Kenyan women are forced to lead lives or engage in practices that predispose them to poor sexual and reproductive health. Such practices include child rape, child marriage and female genital mutilation. While academic theorizing considers socio-cultural practices that contribute to women’s oppression in Kenya, I seek to locate my position as a Black African feminist to enable my contribution to these debates


This is a revised version of the author's original essay, which appeared in Journal of International Women's Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 (January 2016).

Author Biography

Glory Gatwiri is a 3rd year Ph.D. student at Flinders University in South Australia where she teaches critical social work.

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