Women’s Press
Canada’s leading academic feminist publisher
Canada’s leading academic feminist publisher
2017 womens voices from the margins cvr
258 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
May 2017
Print ISBN: 9780889615885
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Drawing on the diary entries of twenty young women living in Kibera, a large slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya, Women’s Voices from the Margins is an in-depth investigation into women’s experiences of gender-based violence in the Global South. Elizabeth Swart employs relevant theory and feminist scholarship to ground her analysis in the broader context of globalization, while also attending to the specific responses and strategies used by these diarists to cope with gender-based violence.

Highlighting the implications of this qualitative study for policy practice and future research, this text considers the critical possibilities of localized interventions and is a valuable resource for students interested in women and violence, international social work, and women in the developing world.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Kenya and Gender
Chapter 2: Kibera in the 21st Century
Chapter 3: Ethnographic Reflections and Decolonization

Chapter 4: Working with Diaries as Texts
Chapter 5: Hoping God Agrees
Chapter 6: Escape
Chapter 7: Betting Against the House
Chapter 8: Gender and Political Violence in Kibera

Chapter 9: Learning from the Diary Data
Chapter 10: Learning from the Survey Data
Chapter 11: Moving Forward


Elizabeth Swart

Elizabeth Swart is an Adjunct Lecturer of Social Work at the University of Southern California.


“In this detailed, self-reflective study of how to engage across difference and listen to the knowledge of women in settings of gender-based violence and poverty, the author offers insights into her and the research participants’ journey of working for more than seven years in the Kenyan slum of Kibera. She reveals the nuanced ways women survive, and the possibilities of feminist methodologies for peeling back Western assumptions and changing how we think about learning in the university classroom.”
—  Erin Baines, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia

“This is a must-read book if you want to understand and contribute to the fight against extreme poverty and gender-based violence in the lives of real women. It allows 20 women to tell their own stories of creative daily agency in their fight for survival—not as passive victims of male and economic and political violence, but as key actors struggling, and succeeding, to survive as best they can…. This is truly a story about how the personal is political and vice-versa.”
—  Natalie J. Sokoloff, Professor Emerita of Sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and editor of Domestic Violence at the Margins

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