More Information
ISBN: 9781783684892
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 18
Publication Date: 31/10/2018
Pages: 334
Series: Studies in Education
Language: English

Gender and Development

A History of Women’s Education in Kenya


For a long time African history has been dominated by western perspectives through predominantly male accounts of colonial governments and missionaries. In contrast, Dr Emily Onyango provides an African history of mission, education development and women’s roles in Kenya. Based on archival research and interviews of primary sources this book explores the relationship of these areas of history with each other, focusing on the Luo culture and the period of 1895 to 2000.

With the pre-colonial African context as the foundation for understanding and writing history, Dr Onyango uses gender to analyze the role of Christian missionaries in the development of women’s education and their position in Kenyan society. The result of this well-researched study is not only a challenge to the traditional understanding of history, but also a counternarrative to the common view that to be liberated African women must disregard Christianity. Rather she looks at the importance Christianity plays in helping women establish themselves economically, politically and socially, in Kenyan society. This research is a vital contribution to women’s history and the history of Christianity in Africa.

Author Bios

Emily Awino Onyango

EMILY AWINO ONYANGO earned her PhD from the University of Wales, UK. She currently works as a senior lecturer at St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya, where her teaching focuses on church history, gender studies and African Christianity. Dr Onyango is also a priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya and a Canon in the Diocese of Bondo.


Dr Onyango has brought to light women’s agency in navigating layers of systems that first affirmed them in the community life and then excluded them from being heard in the area of education. An important book in teaching about women and education in Kenyaduring the period discussed.

Esther Mombo, PhD
Director, International Partnerships and Alumni Relations,
Faculty of Theology, St Paul’s University, Nairobi

Emily Onyango is a pioneer in the history of girls’ education in Kenya. . . she tells an extraordinary story of initial culturalcourage by young Kenyan women, of persevering female missionary dedication, of difficult gendered negotiations in home and employment and, in the end, of the confident, if still embattled, sense of achievement by a growing number of Kenyan women.

John Lonsdale, PhD
Emeritus Professor, Modern African History,
Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge

Table of Contents

  1. List of Abbreviations
  2. Introduction
  3. Chapter 1
    1. The Argument
  4. Chapter 2
    1. Women during the Precolonial Period
      1. Education of Girls
        1. Case-Study of Siwindhe as a Locus for Girls’ Education
      2. Women in Religious Leadership
      3. Leadership in Society
      4. Socio-Economic Empowerment
  5. Chapter 3
    1. Colonial Period as a Watershed for African Women
      1. Leadership during the Colonial Period
      2. Socio-Economic Changes during the Colonial Period
        1. Changes in the Practice of Agriculture
        2. Formation of Class System
  6. Chapter 4
    1. The Establishment of Christianity in Kenya
      1. Precolonial Period at the Coast as the Foundation for Mission Work
      2. The Establishment of Christianity in Central Kenya
        1. The African Inland Mission
        2. The Gospel Missionary Society
        3. Church of Scotland Mission
        4. Church Missionary Society
      3. The Establishment of Christianity in Western Kenya
        1. The Establishment of Mission Work
      4. The Establishment of the Women’s Movement in the Church
        1. Establishment of Buch Mikayi at Ng’iya Mission Station
        2. Establishment of Mothers’ Union in Kenya
  7. Chapter 5
    1. The Interaction between the Missions and African Culture
      1. Female Circumcision
      2. Bride-Wealth
      3. Forced Marriages
      4. Polygamy
      5. Widowhood and Levirate Marriage
      6. Conclusion
  8. Chapter 6
    1. Mission Education for Girls: Case-Study of Ng’iya Girls’ School
      1. Aim of Education for Girls
      2. Case-Study of Ng’iya Girls’ School
        1. Establishment of Ng’iya Girls’ School
        2. Bible, Bath, Broom: The Curriculum at Ng’iya Girls’ School
        3. Teacher Training at Ng’iya
        4. Interaction with the Wider Society
        5. Developments Between 1946–1960
      3. Women’s Negotiation of Mission Education: Gender and Development
        1. Recapturing Dignity through Sewing and Domestic Science Skills
        2. Challenging Negative Cultural Practices Related to
        3. Luo Marriages
        4. Socio-Economic Empowerment
        5. Women in Church Leadership
        6. Women’s Leadership in Society
      4. Women’s Negotiation of Mission Education: Case Study, Lucia Okuthe (1919–1989)
      5. Women’s Negotiation of Mission Education: Case Study, Grace Onyango (1931–Present)
      6. Women’s Negotiation of Mission Education: Case Study, Grace Ogot (1930–2015)
  9. Chapter 7
    1. Mission Education: Case Study of Alliance Girls’ High School
      1. Aim of Education
      2. Alliance Girls’ High School
        1. Background
        2. Establishment of Alliance Girls’ High School
      3. The Women’s Movement
        1. The Establishment of the Women’s Movement
        2. Maendeleo Ya Wanawake
      4. Case Studies
        1. Margaret Kenyatta
        2. Julia Ojiambo
        3. Eddah Gachukia
  10. Conclusion
  11. Glossary
  12. Bibliography