Phenomenological, African feminist research: Kenyan women’s stories of living with vaginal fistulas
Gatwiri, G 2017, Phenomenological, African feminist research: Kenyan women’s stories of living with vaginal fistulas, Sage Research Methods Cases: Part 2 , Sage Publications, London. ISBN: 9781473977778
At the heart of this research, in which this case study is founded, are 30 Kenyan women’s accounts of their experiences of living with vaginal fistulas and the ways in which they have survived such a debilitating condition. The purpose of this case study is to show the methodological aspect of a 3-year-long thesis construction. I discuss the qualitative research, most especially phenomenology and critical feminism, and elucidate how these two perspectives are used in understanding lived experiences. Using an African feminist lens alongside phenomenology takes up not only an individual but also a collective, political stance in raising critical questions about why women in the “third world,” with few material resources, little education, and lower social standing, are more susceptible to developing vaginal fistulas. More simply, I investigated how gender, class, and ethnicity intersect and affect the quality of life they (are forced to) live. My aim is to understand how Black Kenyan women interpret their lived experiences of vaginal fistulas, with a view of reflecting on gender, cultural, and systemic oppression and its significance to women’s well-being, and the possible systems and policy changes needed to better redress vaginal fistulas in the future. In an attempt to create a conceptual theorizing of the phenomenon of living with vaginal fistulas, I discuss how data were collected through a phenomenological approach and analyzed through a critical African feminist lens.