News

GS major awarded Tanner Fellowship for Kenya research

What is women's empowerment? For Global Studies major Hannah Markey '19, the question is unanswerable unless we take seriously the question of who is defining the term, and in what context. Markey was recently awarded a Tanner Fellowship to support her research into local definitions of women's empowerment in Nairobi, Kenya.

While studying in Kenya in 2016 as part of St. Lawrence's renowned Kenya Semester Program, Markey had the chance to visit to the Hawker Market Girls Centre with her professor, Dr. Wambui Mwangi. The Centre is a women's empowerment organization that teaches entrepreneurial skills such as beadwork, hairdressing, personal finance, and public speaking. "After meeting the participants and staff, I became inspired to focus my Global Studies research on gender in East Africa," says Markey. "With funding from the Tanner Fellowship, I will return to Nairobi for two weeks in August to conduct semi-structured interviews with the students and staff of this center, seeking to answer the following research question: do the current United Nations global gender policies accurately measure women's empowerment, as defined by young women and scholars in Nairobi?"

Markey has taken full advantage of St. Lawrence's ample off-campus study opportunities, following up her Kenya semester by spending the Spring 2018 semester studying in Amman, Jordan.

Her research in Nairobi will seek to understand how factors such as culture, geographic context, family relations, ethnicity, and individual lived experience shape definitions of women's empowerment.

"I believe this project will support the greater St. Lawrence community," notes Markey, "by emphasizing women's ability to define their own empowerment."