Learning to negotiate sexual relationships: a girls’ school in Tanzania as a restrictive and agentic site

Laura Wangsness Willemsen, Joan DeJaeghere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Literature on schooling in Africa often frames sexual relationships as threatening girls’ educational participation, health, and general well-being. Schooling practices aimed at sheltering girls reflect the prevalence of discourses emphasising danger and abstinence. This article presents the case of one all-girls school in Tanzania which provides a protective environment while also teaching young women strategies to negotiate sexual and romantic relationships. Drawing on classroom observations and in-depth interviews, we examine how the school's policies, practices, and lifeskills curriculum offer students a supportive environment in which to learn about relationships. Our analysis reveals that young women find this space simultaneously restrictive and freeing, and that their learning has supported their ability to imagine equitable relationships for themselves. This case contributes to our understanding of how schools can serve as sites that foster young women's agency when curriculum and pedagogy create space for open discussion of sexual relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalGender and Education
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • girls
  • pedagogy
  • qualitative interviews
  • secondary education
  • sexuality
  • single-sex education
  • sub-Saharan Africa

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