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Using both qualitative and quantitative data collected in two Nairobi slums, this paper seeks to discuss gender based causes of migration as well as the use of urban space. The qualitative data used are largely based on narratives derived from interviews with respondents collected in 2008, centering on their recollections of why they had migrated to Nairobi. The descriptive statistics are based on data collected in 2007 under the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS) in the two slums. The quantitative data depends on population based data collected from 619 (32.6%) women and 1278 (67.4%) men aged 50 and above who migrated between 1960 and 2006. The qualitative study was a complementary follow up study to shed light and understand the social context within which migration took place. The use of complimentary methods helped in the analysis and interpretation of data. Although economic reasons may predominate amongst male and female migrants, compared to men, women economic migrants were often supplementary income earners or migrated when the household had suffered a major economic or social shock. Men and women may discuss their migration histories differently. Migration research could benefit from mixed methods. This study will show that in Nairobi slums, men and women may carve out niches in different spaces and that use of space is gendered. The study also corroborates earlier research suggesting that migrant women mostly viewed the urban environment as emancipatory as well as offering chances for personal advancement.

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Conference paper


International Migration Institute

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