Accepted paper:

Consequences of Urban Masculinity for Social Health and Livelihood Security in East Africa


Benson Mulemi (The Catholic University of Eastern Africa)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores consequences of the emerging urban masculinity phenomenon for social relationships and sustainable livelihood in East African towns. It explores perspectives on the social value, identity and worth of urban men in quests for social health and society wellbeing.

Paper long abstract:

Urbanism is associated with new perspectives on manhood and womanhood and changing wellbeing experiences in Africa. Increasing violence and tension between urban men and women, where both are victims, embody the transient rural masculinity. This phenomenon both threaten and reinforce social health and livelihood security. Changing traditional African masculinity embedded practices of household control, bread-winning, dominance, and virilocal residence shape contemporary patterns of gender cooperation in socioeconomic production. Contradictions are emerging from rising women's empowerment and gender-based vulnerabilities that influence men's capability to perform their traditional household production roles. However, there is paucity of ethnography on continuities and discontinuities in traditional gender roles and their implications for wellbeing among urban East African societies. This paper draws on media reportage and rapid ethnographic analyses to examine the impact urban life and the changing notions of masculinity and femininity on socio-economic stability in key East African cities. It explores perspectives on transient social value, identity and worth of men in the face of increasing economic, social and political visibility of urban women. The paper argues that urbanism both enhance and threaten values of gender equity that underpin pursuits of societal wellbeing and livelihood resilience. Gender-based violence affecting both men and women in East African cities highlight the need for social and culture policy to mitigate negative consequences of urbanism on socioeconomic security and well-being, which trickle down to rural areas.

panel P017 CANCELLED
Gender transition and urban societal wellbeing in Eastern Africa